Derby Graduation – July 2019 – Honorand Chris Hughes

Derby Graduation – July 2019 – Honorand Chris Hughes

November 10, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


PRO CHANCELLOR AND CHAIRMAN: I now have great
pleasure in inviting June Hughes, University Secretary and Registrar, to give the commendation
for the conferment of the Honorary degree of Doctor of the University to Chris Hughes. JUNE HUGHES: Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, honoured guests and graduands, it gives me
great pleasure to be presenting today Chris Hughes, for the award of Honorary Doctor of
the University. Chris has been associated with the University and Higher Education since
2001 when he became a trustee. His tenure of some 17 years’ service, seven of which
were as Chair of the Governing Council, has been critical in steering the University to
its position today. Chris graduated in Chemistry from Sheffield University in 1971 and went
to the BBC as a studio manager in the overseas services. From there he worked in local and
network radio as a presenter and producer specialising in politics, finance and agriculture.
He moved to Nottingham in 1980 to take up the role of Programme Controller at Radio
Trent, subsequently becoming its Managing Director. Under his tenure the company grew
to cover first Leicester, then Derby and he became a Business Development Director for
GCap Media which, at the time, was the country’s largest commercial radio company owning Classic
FM and dozens of local radio services nationwide. Whilst working with GCap Media Chris was always
looking for new challenges and applied to become a governor of the University, joining
our board in 2001. He later became Chair of the Finance, Employment and General Purposes
Committee, and on his retirement had the time to take on the role of Chair of Governing
Council in 2011. On the Governing Council, Chris always ensured the student voice was
heard and acted upon. In 2016 he was a driving force behind the inclusion of student representation
on the Nominations and Remuneration Committee. Over the last few years of Chris’s service
the University developed into a high performing and well-respected institution. It is a top
30 UK university in the Guardian League Table; ranked in the top 1000 World Universities
by the Times Higher Education; rated Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)
for our teaching quality; and winner of the Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year
in the 2018 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards. Chris understands the
importance of leadership through challenge, the need to be innovative and, particularly,
the duty to place students at the heart of everything we do. His passion for enabling
Derby to be the best university it can be and ensuring that our students have a life-changing
experience is at the heart of his commitment. In 2018, Chris became a trustee of Derby’s
Union of Students, which has enabled him to continue to positively impact the lives of
our students. Chris was also Chair of Derby Theatre for three years where students work
side by side in a professional theatre. Its wider work enables thousands of children and
young people each year to access arts provision. Chris’s leadership enabled the theatre to
build on its community engagement, working with some of the most vulnerable in our community.
Chris was a founding trustee of Age UK, formed in 2009, and he subsequently chaired their
Nominations and Remuneration Committees. He was an Age UK envoy to Northern Ireland and
his quiet, persuasive common sense secured the future of Age NI and its vital services
in the country. As well as his commitment to the importance of education he has a strong
sense of value of the voluntary sector – and has been closely involved with projects in
areas such as welfare rights, drug addiction and sexual health. Within his local community
he has been a voluntary driver for the Soar Valley Community Bus Service since 2014. His
dedication and commitment have helped the organisation improve the quality of life of
many elderly members of the community. He has also found time to devote to a personal
passion for natural history and conservation particularly in the field of ornithology,
for which Chris has travelled the world extensively and is a trustee and treasurer of both Nottinghamshire
Birdwatchers and the Ornithological Society of the Middle East. Chris has always received
immense support and encouragement from his wife Nikki, son Daniel and stepdaughter Hannah
who he’s delighted is now studying for a degree at the University. It means he now
sees at first hand the life changing impact studying at Derby can make.
Chris seizes the opportunity to make a positive difference in whatever he does through his
clear thinking and straightforward common sense approach. His service and commitment
to such a wide range of organisations and individuals makes his impact all the more
effective. Chancellor, in recognition of his contribution
to and impact on the University, its students and its staff during his tenure as a governor
and Chair of the Governing Council, we are delighted to award Chris Hughes the honorary
degree of Doctor of the University. [APPLAUSE] CHRIS HUGHES: Listening to that I just wondered
‘is that really me?’ It brings back a lot of memories. Let’s just do the formal
bit. Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, Lord Leftenant, Mayor of Derby, Honoured guests, ladies and
gentlemen, but most importantly of all the graduands of 2019. I’m now one of you and
delighted to be so on this special day. As has been said this is such an important day
in your personal history which will stay with you for your lifetime. I can vividly remember
my own student graduation back in 1971 with a sense of real pride, not just for me but
especially for my parents, sadly no longer with me to enjoy today. I also remember it
for our Chancellor falling asleep. To be recognised with this honour means so much to me having
played just a very very small part in seeing this wonderful University grow and prosper.
Its reputation and its achievements are now so clear for all to see. It has been achieved
by staying true to its fundamental values of offering a brilliant education to anyone,
irrespective of whom they are, where they come from, or how much money they possess.
Widening the opportunity to develop and hone the skills of our young people is at the heart
of this University and long may it be so. As Kath said earlier we live in a remarkable
time with so much uncertainty but seeing you all graduate this afternoon does give me much
confidence in the future. It’s now your world to shape and develop for the benefit of us
all. I’m also very fortunate to know many of the people on this stage, each and every
one of them believes in what a university education can mean and how it can bring out
the best in people, discovering the hidden talents that lie within us all. I’ve never
had the chance to do so before so I’d like you all to join me in thanking all the staff
of the University. Whomsoever they may be, each of them has been so important in enabling
all of us to be here today. I will treasure this honour and I’ll never lose touch with
this brilliant University – brilliant because of its values, its staff, but most importantly
because of its students, so wonderfully represented by you here today. I hope you’ve enjoyed today
as much as I have. It’s very very nearly time to party like never before.
Thank you. [APPLAUSE]