August 14, 2017, by David Greenaway

Final Graduations

Graduations are always special occasions, very meaningful manifestations of why our University exists.

This summer’s ceremonies have been extra meaningful as they were my last at Nottingham.

For me they began at the start of July, at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) with four ceremonies over a weekend. This was the first occasion I had experienced a ceremony in the new DH Lawrence Auditorium, a 1,000 multi-purpose venue, with superb sight lines and state of the art audiovisual equipment. It is an outstanding venue.

1,394 students graduated from UNNC’s three Faculties (Business, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Engineering). In addition, a number of Li Dak Sum Distinguished Professors were inaugurated, Lord Dearing Awards presented, and an Honorary Degree conferred on Oliver Wang of Ping An Good Doctor.

Of those 1,394 graduates, 951 were holding offers for graduate study, and of those 80% were holding offers from QS Top 100 Universities globally. Given that UNNC only recruited its first students in 2004 that is quite remarkable; a testimony to the quality of students we recruit, and the quality of their education at UNNC.

Then it was back to the UK, where we had 22 ceremonies here in Nottingham with almost 9,000 students graduating across our five Faculties.

These were the first summer ceremonies held in the David Ross Sports Village. We know this is an amazing asset for sport and recreation. It is also a great graduation venue, not just because of the scale and layout of the hall we use, but the excellent support facilities adjacent to that hall.

As in Ningbo, we took the opportunity to present Lord Dearing Awards, and confer a number of Honorary Doctorates including to: screen and stage star, Ruth Wilson; local Michelin starred Chef Sat Bains; and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust CEO Peter Homa. They, and others delivered inspiring acceptance speeches.

My final set of graduations were at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). There we had 10 ceremonies, graduating almost 1,000 students from the three Faculties (Arts and Social Sciences, Engineering, Science).

For the first time we held our summer graduations in the Great Hall on Campus, rather than off site. Several Vice-Chancellor’s Medals were presented, and an Honorary Degree awardee to HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah, Permaisuri of Johor.

A new feature this year was that every ceremony had a member of the Class of 2017 make a speech. The thought that had gone in to the preparation and delivery of those addresses spoke volumes for the quality of our students. They were consistently superb.

So, in total we had 36 graduations in three countries, and in the process added 11,000 to our alumni community (taking it beyond 280,000).

Many teams in all three places ensured these were the memorable occasions they must be for our students, their families and their friends. I am extremely grateful to them for (and very proud of) the consistently high quality of these key events. They were marvelous experiences to be part of, and the attention to detail and professionalism in delivery was admirable.

Finally, two personal reflections.

First, there was a ‘final’ ceremony for me at each of the three places and in different ways it was made into a very special experience.

At UNNC Provost Chris Rudd gave a warm address and two students presented me with gifts; at UNUK Professor Sarah O’Hara interrupted my closing address to speak of my teaching in the School of Economics (including reporting recent SET results!) and presented me with a Lord Dearing Award; and at UNMC Provost Graham Kendall had the last word with a speech focused on 30 years at Nottingham.

Those were very special moments. It was enormously thoughtful and generous on the part of all three.

Second, I estimate that I have been involved in at least 350 graduation ceremonies across our three Campuses in my time at Nottingham. And I think I have shaken the hands of around 75,000 graduates, or more than a quarter of the total alumni community!

It has been a privilege.

Professor Sir David Greenaway


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