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Get set for graduation

Over 3,300 students from 43 different countries have been invited to take part in the virtual celebrations, being held from 2 to 5 November.

Next week marks the College’s first virtual graduation in its near 200-year history, reflecting the current pandemic and the need to ensure the safety of those attending. 

A total of 3,365 students will be graduating across 18 ceremonies which will take place online from Monday 2 November to Thursday 5 November. 

Professor David Latchman, Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck, commented:

“I am delighted to congratulate all of the students who are graduating next week. Many will have worked or balanced other commitments during the day with their evening studies, as well had to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during their last term with us – a remarkable achievement. I wish all of the students the very best for the future and invite you to stay in touch with us by becoming an active member of our alumni community. I would also like to thank all of their friends and families for supporting them through their studies.”

Jessica Jeske, Birkbeck’s Events Manager, said:

“The virtual Autumn Graduation has been designed to reflect the spirit and format of usual in-person ceremonies and will provide a wonderful and memorable opportunity for students, their families and friends, and Birkbeck staff to celebrate the achievements of graduates and reflect on the culmination of their studies. Every graduate will have their time to shine, with the opportunity to be shown on screen when their name is being read out by the Executive Dean of their school. A number of students have also opted to hire gowns for the occasion.

“Usually, we hold two graduations per year at Senate House in Bloomsbury in Spring and Autumn. As the Spring Graduation earlier this year was postponed due to the pandemic, 97 PhD students, 1,128 undergraduate students and 2,090 postgraduate students have been invited to graduate next week. When it is safe to do so, we are also planning to host a reunion reception to give graduates the opportunity to celebrate their achievements with their peers, families, friends and staff in-person too.”

The 2020 graduates will be addressed by Professor David Latchman CBE, Vice-Chancellor; Baroness Joan Bakewell, President; Professor Joanna Bourke, College Orator; academic staff; alumni; and four new Fellows of the College.

The new Fellows will be awarded their Fellowships virtually, with Professor Joanna Bourke, the College Orator, delivering a formal oration for each individual. Elected annually by the College Governors, the award of a Birkbeck Fellowship recognises individuals who have either given outstanding service to the College or who have attained distinction in their fields or in connection with Birkbeck.

The new Fellows this year are:

John Kelly

John was a Professor of Industrial Relations at Birkbeck from 2003 until 2020 and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, the national academy of academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences. His main research interests are the labour movement and industrial conflict. 

Marai Larasi

Marai is a Black, African-Caribbean-British feminist advocate, community organiser and consultant who has worked in social justice for over 25 years, with a specific focus on ending violence against Black/Global Majority women and girls. Marai holds an MA with Distinction in ‘Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity’ from Birkbeck. 

Elizabeth Whitehead

Elizabeth worked at Birkbeck for 20 years from 1998 to 2018 within the Facilities Department, for many years as the Facilities Manager but laterally as the Director of Facilities. Elizabeth is now retired and has returned to Manchester, where she was born and raised.

Peter Zinkin

Peter is the elected conservative councillor for the Childs Hill ward in Barnet, London. Peter worked for Balfour Beatty Plc for 35 years, latterly as the Director responsible for a range of financial, strategic, pension and property functions. 

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