University of Exeter: England’s Chief Scientific Officer Professor Dame Sue Hill and esteemed astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell to be awarded honorary degrees

Professor Hill played a major role in the national COVID-19 programme leading the development and deployment of testing technologies and co-directing a globally recognised programme for whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2.

Professor Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics.

Isabel Hardman is Assistant Editor of the Spectator and presenter of Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster.

This year more than 14,000 people are graduating during 58 ceremonies in June and July in Exeter and Cornwall. They are the first full-scale summer graduation ceremonies to be held since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The University of Exeter’s new Chancellor, Sir Michael Barber, is presiding over the events for the first time.

Ms Hardman, a University of Exeter graduate, presents regularly on Times Radio and writes a monthly health and politics column for the i paper. Her books include Why We Get The Wrong Politicians; The Natural Health Service: How Nature Can Mend Your Mind; and Fighting for Life: The Twelve Battles that Made Our NHS, and the Struggle for Its Future.

As Chief Scientific Officer Professor Hill, who is respiratory scientist, has been a champion of education and training, leading the UK wide Modernising Scientific Careers initiative and now the NHS diagnostics workforce programme. Professor Hill leads and directs Genomics in the NHS, driving the world-leading programme to introduce a nationwide Genomic Medicine Service.

Professor Bell Burnell has worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Academic in Oxford, and the Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Scotland. She has been President of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, the first female President of the Institute of Physics for the UK and Ireland, and the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was one of the small group of women scientists that set up the Athena SWAN scheme.

Dame Jocelyn said: “I am delighted to be awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Exeter. I have had several opportunities to work with physicists and astronomers at Exeter and look forward to more in the future. Thank you Exeter!”

Also honoured will be André and Rosalie Hoffmann, Henry Staunton and Nicholas Bull.

André Hoffmann is Vice Chairman of Roche Holding AG, the family business and has a distinguished career in nature conservation and sustainability. Mr and Mrs Hoffmann co-chair the Hoffmann family foundation. Together they have actively championed women’s leadership issues and supported education initiatives from primary to post grad levels. The foundation also supports cultural, health and environmental projects around the world.

Henry Staunton is a graduate of the University of Exeter. He was a partner at Price Waterhouse before joining Granada as Group Finance Director and later Granada Media as Group Finance Director. The company brought together most of the Channel 3 companies and formed ITV. Henry was Group Finance Director of ITV until his retirement in 2006. He is currently Chairman of WH Smith and Capital and Counties. He, his wife and son are all University of Exeter graduates.

Mr Staunton said: “I am an Alumnus of the University of Exeter Business School and through my time on its Advisory Board have been delighted to see how its reputation has grown hugely over the last decade. I feel tremendously honoured to have been awarded a Doctorate from this prestigious University.”

After a career in banking Nicholas Bull became a non-executive director and charity trustee. When the University of Exeter formed its Alumni Network Group in the early 2000’s he was an active member and led Exeter’s first major fundraising, which funded the building of the Forum and Building One. His own gift was to enable the building of a new boathouse for the rowers and he continues to support the university’s rowing programme.

From 2009 to 2018 he was a member of Council of the University and had oversight of Alumni Affairs & Fundraising; Sport; and Arts & Culture. He also chaired the Audit Committee. He continues to be a Trustee of the Camborne School of Mines Trust.

Mr Bull said: “Participating in the University’s journey over the last twenty years to reach its current leadership position has been a huge pleasure for me; and I am deeply honoured to receive an honorary degree, 50 years after my undergraduate one.”