Posted Wednesday 19 July 2023
Around 3,000 Kingston University students will cross the stage to celebrate their achievements at this year's graduations with proud family, friends, academic staff and special guests.
A total of 20 ceremonies will take place between 20 and 28 July at the Rose Theatre in the centre of Kingston, where undergraduate and postgraduate students from Kingston School of Art, the Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education, the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and the Environment and the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences collect their awards.
In addition to the thousands of students graduating, the ceremonies will also see seven individuals recognised by the University for the outstanding contributions they have made in their respective fields with an honorary doctorate.
Among those being celebrated are Grafton Architects co-founders Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, who designed the University's flagship Town House building. Opening its doors in 2020, Town House won the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize and the highest accolade in European architecture, the EU Mies van der Rohe award, in 2022. The leading Irish architects are Fellows of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and International Honorary Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In 2020, they received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for architecture and the Pritzker Prize, which honours architects whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision and commitment.
Grafton is continuing its association with the University, having been commissioned to develop initial design concepts for a proposed academic building and other improvements at the University's Middle Mill site. Shelley and Yvonne are being recognised at this year's graduation ceremonies for their contribution to the discipline of architecture through their built works and through their education and mentorship of architects.
Award-winning author Kit de Waal, whose debut novel My Name Is Leon was an international bestseller that went on to be adapted for television by the BBC, is being recognised for her contribution to literature and reading pleasure. The novel was selected as the 2017 title for the University's Big Read initiative, which sees all new students sent a special edition copy of the same book, providing a common talking point during the first term at University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recently founded her own TV production company Portopia Productions and free digital literary festival Big Book Weekend.
Alumnus Jonathan Lewis, who graduated with a BSc in geology at Kingston in 1984, has been Chief Executive Officer of international business process outsourcing company Capita since 2017 following more than two decades working in the energy sector, including roles at Halliburton and Amex Foster Wheeler. He chairs the Business in the Community Education and Skills Committee and is being recognised for his contribution to business and philanthropy.
Graduating from Kingston with a BA(Hons) in accounting and finance in 1988 and an MBA in 1994, Vince Tallent has been working in the financial technology and technology, media, and telecom (TMT) sector during the last 30 years. He is currently working to build a cashless ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa as Group Chief Executive Officer of Tiqmo, a financial super app. He has been on the judging panel for the University's annual Bright Ideas competition and is being honoured for his contribution to business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Award-winning journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed's contribution to journalism and gender equality will also be recognised during this year's ceremonies. Previously a news anchor for Channel 4 News and BBC News, she currently presents BBC One's Newswatch and BBC Radio Four's Front Row programme, as well as doing documentaries about popular culture, science, politics and social change. She was named British Broadcasting Press Guild audio presenter of the year in 2020 and in the same year won a landmark tribunal against the BBC in a dispute over equal pay.
The final honorary doctorate recipient is former Chair of Kingston University's Board of Governors, David Edmonds CBE, who will be celebrated for his contribution to higher education and public administration governance.
After spending the first 20 years of his working career in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and leading the government's social housing agency, he then had a four-year spell as Chair of homelessness charity CRISIS before being named Director General of Telecommunications at BT, where he helped secure unmetered access to the internet. He also set up NHS Direct, the precursor to the present 111 service and was a founding Board member of the London Legacy Development Corporation, leading the post-Games development of the Olympic Park.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said graduation was a chance for students from across the University to reflect on their achievements with the staff who had supported them throughout their degrees. "Our students have worked incredibly hard during their time at Kingston University to get to this moment, so these ceremonies are a great opportunity for our whole community to come together in celebration of their accomplishments," he said. "I always feel a huge sense of pride at seeing our students walk across the stage at graduation and look forward to seeing the great things they will go on to achieve in their future careers," he added.