Sport, art and business figures honoured

News image - Maria and Amir

A PROFESSIONAL boxer, a digital entrepreneur and a Lord-Lieutenant are among the names honoured by Manchester Metropolitan University this year.

Fighting for others
Amir Khan will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters during this year’s graduation ceremonies.
The British professional boxer and two-time former world champion was the youngest British Olympic boxing medalist, winning silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, at the age of 17. He is also one of the youngest ever British world champions, winning the WBA light welterweight title at the age of 22.

Amir’s philanthropic achievements with Oxfam and as NSPCC ambassador are no less impressive than his sporting accolades. Having set up the Amir Khan Foundation, he has raised money to support education and housing projects in countries around the world, building schools and orphanages to provide homes and education for children who would otherwise have no support.

The champion boxer has worked with the University, supporting the national Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition which encourages children to write poetry in different languages. He said: “Some people might feel shy about [their mother tongue] but they shouldn’t – they should have confidence and be able to talk about what other languages they speak.”

Leading the University
Professor John Brooks, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University from 2005 until May 2015, will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters in recognition of his inspirational leadership and outstanding contribution to the development and transformation of the University.

During John’s time as Vice-Chancellor, his visionary and inspirational leadership allowed the University to transform, growing in strength and reputation to become one of the largest undergraduate universities in the country.

John successfully led a major transformation programme to ensure the continued success of the University in a more competitive, expanded and diversified higher education market and has positioned the University as a very strong key contributor to and provider for the region.

A leader in tech
Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO of UKFast, will receive the Doctor of Business Administration for his outstanding contribution to the digital economy in the North West region.

Lawrence built the cloud computing and web hosting firm, alongside his wife Gail, from a two-person bedroom business. Today, UKFast is a £250 million-valued company employing over 260 people.

Lawrence and UKFast also do a great amount of charity work. In 2014, Lawrence Jones committed £100,000 to a ‘Year of Giving’ at UKFast – helping charities like the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation and setting up an internet café in a community centre in South Africa. Every year, the company have dedicated fundraising days for Wear it Pink, Children in Need, Comic Relief, and many other charities.

He said: “It’s really inspiring for me to be honoured by a great institution like Manchester Met. I’ve been working towards getting more involved with the university so I can help inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and young professionals.”

Artistic direction and inspiration
Dr Maria Balshaw CBE will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts in recognition of her outstanding contribution to arts and culture in the region.

Maria has been Director of the Whitworth since 2006 in 2011 she also took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries. Maria has coordinated a challenging programme of historic, modern and contemporary exhibitions across both galleries. She led a successful campaign to expand the Whitworth, which resulted in it winning ‘Museum of the Year 2015’.

The Whitworth under Maria’s directorship has collaborated with Manchester School of Art, for many years. The most notable collaborations are the Tuesday talks which the University help run. They invite leading artists, thinkers and curators to explore the driving forces, influences and sources of inspiration within contemporary art and are considered important events on the city’s cultural calendar.

Maria provides inspiration, opportunities and benefits for arts students, staff and graduates in Manchester.

Helping sports stars
Dr Stephen McGregor, Sport scientist and fitness expert, will be presented with a Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to professional sport.

Stephen provides his expertise to elite sport players, helping top athletes in golf and football improve their performance. Recently, Stephen has been working with Manchester City Football Club teams and has worked with Nike, Adidas and Lucozade Sport in the past.

As Director at the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance and Company Director of his own company, Sport Science Solutions Ltd, Stephen is a key figure in making Manchester a great sporting city.

Governing and guiding strategy
Peter Budd will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Engineering for his distinguished achievements in the field of global aviation and his generous support and commitment to the University.

Peter recently stepped down as a member of the Board of Governors at Manchester Met. During ten years as Governor, he made a major contribution to the development of the University, in particular its estates development strategy.

At an academic level, he supported the growth of the Centre for Aviation, Transport and the Environment enabling University staff to participate on UK Government committees, establishing partnerships with China’s HE institutions and providing access to industry. This has increased the influence and standing of the University, facilitated access to research funding opportunities and supported the development of knowledge exchange activities and student recruitment. His political links, locally, nationally and internationally, have also benefitted the University.
Since retiring, Peter remains committed to the University.

Committed to Manchester
Warren J Smith KStJ JP will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters for his outstanding contribution to the North West region.

Warren was appointed as Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester in June 2007 and has always had roles dedicated to helping the city improve. Warren has been a member of Manchester Council for Community Relations and founded the Progress Trust which was funded by the Government to develop education, employment and training initiatives throughout the black and minority ethnic communities. Warren has also chaired charities and trusts to improve the city and the lives of its citizens.

As a supporter of the arts, Warren has also helped Manchester become a cultural hub. Warren was a member of the Architectural Advisory Committee for the extension at Manchester City Art Gallery and a member of the Steering Group that put forward the proposal for The Lowry of which he is an Honorary Member. He is also Chairman of Manchester Concert Hall Trust and a member of the Advisory Panel currently raising £6M to refurbish Ordsall Hall.

Growing the city’s economy
Michael Blackburn OBE will be receiving an honorary Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his distinguished achievements in the field of business and enterprise and the significant contribution he has made to the North West region.

Michael is currently the chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, which was designed to support business and local authorities to grow the local economy, tackle major barriers to growth and develop shared strategies for the local economy to increase job creation. The board comprises of Manchester business and local authority leaders.

Michael was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2015 in recognition of his services to the North West’s economy.