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Over 800 students graduating next week at Senate House

Former Universities Minister, Jo Johnson will be formally recognised as a Fellow of Birkbeck, receiving the university’s highest award.

Graduates throwing their Graduation caps in the air at the 2022 Spring Graduation in May
Graduates celebrating at the 2022 Spring Graduation in May

Next week, 820 students will graduate, with seven ceremonies taking place across three days, from Tuesday 8 to Thursday 10 November.

Students, their friends and families and Birkbeck staff will gather for the graduation ceremonies in the University of London’s iconic art deco headquarters, Senate House, which is located in Bloomsbury next to the university’s campus.

The ceremonies will also be live-streamed on the university’s website for people not able to attend in-person.

Professor David Latchman, Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck, commented: “I would like to convey my warmest congratulations to all students graduating this week.

“Their achievements are particularly significant because they studied with us through the Covid pandemic restrictions.

“I am immensely proud of you and wish you all the best in the future as you become part of our community of alumni.

“It is fitting that we are formally recognising four new Fellows at the ceremonies for their outstanding contribution to Birkbeck or the wider world. Next year marks Birkbeck’s 200th anniversary and we will be commemorating the impact Birkbeck’s students and staff have had across the globe since its foundation. Throughout its history Birkbeck has remained true to its original mission to transform lives through education that is accessible to all who can benefit from it.”

The 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 Fellows of the College. 

Professor Joanna Bourke, College Orator, will recognise the contribution of four Fellows, by delivering an 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 Fellows being formally recognised at this November’s ceremonies are: 

Professor Nicholas Keep

Nicholas Keep is Emeritus Professor of Biomolecular Crystallography and former Executive Dean of Birkbeck’s School of Science. He did his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge and stayed on to do a PhD. After researching at University College London and the University of Leicester, he returned to the Medical Research Council Laboratory, from which he joined Birkbeck in 1998 as a Lecturer before becoming Professor in 2009. In 2009,Nicholas became one of the five inaugural Executive Deans and was the last one to stand down. His academic publications and research into protein structure have been unusually broad, including proteins involved in tuberculosis, insect sense of smell, muscular dystrophy, and synthesis of alkaloids. Having retired in 2021, Nicholas is commended for his many contributions to the College, including advocacy for the work of Birkbeck’s School of Science. 

Sue Betts

Sue Betts is an educationalist with a career in further and higher education spanning almost fifty years. After working in further education and as education adviser for Edexcel, Sue became a Vice Principal in 1993. In 1999, she joined University for Industry, a government e-learning organisation designed to bring learning to venues such as clubs, pubs, and community sites. In 2004, she was appointed Head of Quality for University for the NHS, another government initiative designed to bring national coherence to NHS training and learning.  In 2006, Sue was appointed Director of Linking London, hosted by Birkbeck. Linking London is a partnership of over fifty educational institutions collaborating to widen participation, student engagement, success, and social mobility in pursuit of improvements in social justice through education. Sue retired in September 2022, after sixteen years of service. 

Lord Johnson of Marylebone

Jo Johnson is a politician who was a Member of Parliament for Orpington from 2010 to 2019. As Head of the No.10 Downing Street Policy Unit from 2013-2015 and as a Minister of State attending Cabinet, Jo has been a prominent figure in government policy-making in recent Conservative administrations. He served in a number of ministerial roles, including as Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation in the Governments of three different prime ministers. He has since become non-executive chairman at Access Creative College, the largest independent provider of specialist further education and training for the creative industries. Jo is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, President's Professorial Fellow at King's College London and writes for a range of publications, including the Financial Times, where he worked in his early career, mostly as a foreign correspondent based in France and India. He is a Member of the House of Lords, a Member of the Privy Council, a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a Director of the Dyson Institute for Engineering & Technology. 

Hugh Ferrand

Hugh Ferrand is a supporter of Birkbeck and served as a Governor of the College from 2011 to 2020. He also served as Chair of the Investment Committee and Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committees in that time. Educated at University of Oxford’s Christ Church, Hugh started his career in the City in 1981, before moving to work in Australia and Hong Kong in the mid 1980s. He then moved to New York before returning to London. After stints in Edinburgh and again in the US, he ran the Institutional division at Invesco in the UK for almost 20 years, before joining an old colleague at Australian firm, Challenger. Hugh now spends much of his time in the northeast of England, where he is also involved in agriculture, tourism and has recently been helping Ukrainian refugees integrate into Northumbrian life. A firm believer in the power of adult and higher education, he is keen to integrate his Birkbeck experience into his involvement with the national Levelling-Up agenda, and to contribute to upcoming 200th anniversary celebrations.  

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