Yesterday, I was at Regent’s University London to be installed as an Honorary Senior Fellow, the university’s equivalent of bestowing an honorary degree. (I already have an honorary degree, from Lincoln University, so it is nice to have a separate award.) Regent’s has a notably international student body. The award was in recognition of my work in the field of higher education.
The ceremony took place in the splendid St Marylebone Church, a short walk from the university’s equally magnificent campus in Regent’s Park. The picture shows me after the ceremony with one of the University’s trustees, Ken Batty, who is also a former student of mine. He was the presenting officer, so part of the speech encompassed what it was like studying under me.
In my speech, I focused on the students, rather than me. Ken Batty did more than a splendid job in covering my career and there was also a nice summary in the graduation brochure. My concern was to draw out that a degree is the result of drawing on others (family, friends and tutors), is not the end of a process, but rather the beginning of one – it is one’s passport to the future – and it imbues, or should, more than knowledge – one grows as a person and acquires a greater sensitivity to the world around you. It should make you not only a knowledgeable graduate, but also a good citizen. One is fortunate to have a university education. Not everyone has that opportunity. As a result of what you have achieved, you can help others and not just yourself.
I ended by noting that another way of seeing a degree was not as a passport, but as a springboard. Success is not guaranteed. How high you reach depends on how much you put into your career.