Chris Hughes's Commendation video transcript

Chris Hughes

STEPHEN SMITH: 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.

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 Lieutenant, 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.

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