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University of London confers highest honours on exceptional individuals


London, 28 November 2019 – Last evening the University of London awarded honorary degrees to April Ashley MBE, Professor David Croisdale-Appleby OBE, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller DCB, honorary fellowships to Maureen Frances Boylan MBE and Edward Theodore Hartill OBE, and the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the University of London’ award to John William Stone. 

Image of the honorary graduates at Foundation Day 2019

(Picture above) In the back row, left to right, are: Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, LG, DCB; Edward Hartill OBE; Professor David Croisdale-Appleby OBE; Mr John Stone; Professor Wendy Thomson CBE. In the front row, pictured left to right, are: Maureen Boylan MBE; Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal; April Ashley MBE.

The honorary degrees were presented by the University’s Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, at the University of London’s Foundation Day. This year’s evening ceremony, which took place in Bloomsbury’s Senate House, marked the 183rd anniversary of the creation of the University of London by Royal Charter on 28 November 1836. 

The six remarkable individuals, who received honours last night, have all made substantial contributions to public life and the University in very different ways.

Honorary graduates

April Ashley MBE was a successful fashion model and actress but her route to these achievements was not straightforward. In 1960, at 25, she had undergone one of the first gender reassignment surgeries in Morocco, leaving her male life behind her to come one of the world’s first visible LGBT icons. Ashley was finally legally recognised as female in 2005 and issued with a new birth certificate. She was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to transgender equality, had an exhibition in Museum of Liverpool about her life which led her to become an honorary citizen of Liverpool. Ashley was awarded a lifetime achievement honour at the European Diversity Awards in 2014. Ms Ashley was awarded a Doctor of Literature honoris causa.

Professor David Croisdale-Appleby OBE is a leading international figure in the development of health and social care policy, who has given a lifetime of service to the vulnerable, disadvantaged and disabled people of the world. He has chaired successive government committees focussed on the support of voluntary carers in our society, and authored the highly acclaimed Independent Review of Social Work Education. A recipient of many national awards and an academic polymath, he holds numerous professorships in more than seven academic disciplines spanning medicine, science, social science and humanities. He currently chairs the Royal College of Physicians and Dementia UK. Professor Croisdale-Appleby was awarded a Doctor of Science honoris causa.

Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, LG, DCB became chair of the Wellcome Trust in 2015, having previously been a Governor. She spent a long career in MI5, heading it from 2002-2007. She joined the House of Lords in 2008 where she sits on the Science and Technology Committee. She chaired Imperial College Council from 2011-2015, and is one of the Presidents of Chatham House. She was a Reith lecturer in 2011. Baroness Manningham-Buller was awarded a Doctor of Laws honoris causa.

Honorary fellows

Maureen Frances Boylan MBE has been a member of the University of London since January 1990, retiring as University Secretary in 2017. Her University career included senior posts in seven of the member institutions and the federal Careers Service. Her work ranged from undergraduate welfare to whole-institution strategic development and major change projects, including “mergers, closures and acquisitions” of federal significance. Most recently, she orchestrated the passing of the new University of London Act, a pivotal measure for the future of the federal University. In 2015 she was awarded an MBE for Services to Higher Education. 

Edward Theodore Hartill OBE is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He was City Surveyor for the City of London for over 20 years and has also held numerous voluntary appointments within the University of London, the RICS, the Property Services National Training Organisation, the subsequent Sector Skills Council, the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children and the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors. He received an OBE for services to the Corporation of London and Surveying in 2004.

Ms Boylan and Mr Hartill have been admitted to the Fellowship of the University of London as individuals who truly fulfil the criteria for selection: “a person of significant achievement and distinction, who has made an outstanding contribution to the University’s reputation, mission or objects over a period of time”.

Outstanding Contribution to the University of London

Mr John William Stone worked at Senate House from 1987 until 2019 following in the footsteps of his father who worked in the building from 1955 until 1983. As a child John would accompany his father to work from where his love of the building grew. Latterly John conducted tours of the building, both above and below ground, recounting the less well-known official (and unofficial) history of Senate House. Mr Stone is the first individual to receive the Outstanding Contribution to the University of London award in its 183-year history. 

“Ms Ashley, Professor Croisdale-Appleby, Baroness Manningham-Buller, Ms Boylan, Mr Hartill, and Mr Stone join a growing list of over 550 individuals who have been honoured by the University of London and I am truly impressed by their respective contributions to public life and the University”, said Professor Wendy Thomson CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. 

Over 400 guests attended this year’s ceremony, including staff and students from the 17 independent member institutions of the University.