Knighthoods go to Bristol and UCL V-cs

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List includes a knighthood for Eric Thomas, the University of Bristol vice-chancellor and Universities UK president

June 14, 2013

Malcolm Grant, the University College London provost, also receives a knighthood in the list, published on 14 June.

Judith Rees, former interim director of the London School of Economics, currently director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment, is made a dame for services to higher education.

Sir Eric, knighted for services to higher education, graduated in medicine from Newcastle University, trained as an obstetrician and gynaecologist and worked at Newcastle and the University of Sheffield.

He has led Bristol since 2001. Bristol said in a statement that his “chairing of the government taskforce into Increasing Voluntary Giving in Higher Education, and subsequent report in 2004, played a major role in shaping voluntary giving across the sector”.

Sir Eric said he was “personally delighted and honoured, but also I’m very pleased for how it reflects on my own university and the sector in general, and of course those people I work with in clinical medicine”.

Given that that all UUK presidents have received knighthoods in recent years, did he expect it?

“I come from the North East of England. I never count a goal until the ball has crossed the line,” said Sir Eric.

“I was obviously aware of the precedent in the past. I still realised I had to earn it rather than being given that honour. I don’t think you get anything on the nod any longer.”

Sir Malcolm, an environmental lawyer knighted for services to higher education, has been provost of UCL since 2003 and has also served as chair of the Russell Group. He is currently chair of NHS England, the body charged with investing the budget of the health service under the coalition’s new system.

“This great honour simply reflects the excellence of UCL and our great advances over the past decade, as a global university of talented staff and students,” Sir Malcolm said.

There are several other higher education knights and dames.

Others made dames in addition to Judith Rees include Nicola Cullum, professor of nursing at the University of Manchester; Anne Johnson, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at UCL and Hermione Lee, president of Wolfson College, Oxford and professor of English literature.

Meanwhile, knighthoods go to Andrew Dilnot, warden of Nuffield College, Oxford; John Hills, professor of social policy at the LSE; Peng Tee Khaw, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and professor at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL; Stephen O’Rahilly, professor of clinical biochemistry and medicine at the University of Cambridge; Christopher Pissarides, school professor of economics and political science at the LSE; Nigel Shadbolt, professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Southampton and Michael Stratton, director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

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