13 July 2000
Doctor of Letters
Chancellor, a week ago, the University had the opportunity to entertain the Chief
Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council - the body that funds higher
education in this country. It was his first visit to the University, and to the City, and,
not surprisingly, we were anxious that he departed with the best possible impression –
indeed, we had a financial incentive to ensure that he did so. We wanted to convey
the message that Bradford was exciting, pioneering, imaginative and collaborative.
Despite a very tight schedule we were keen to include a brief visit to the National
Museum of Photography, Film and Television, located here in Bradford, as part of the
Like every other visitor to the Museum, he was captivated by what he saw or, rather,
what he experienced - for seeing is perhaps too passive a concept for what greets the
visitor to the most visited museum outside London. Even the most senior and hard-
nosed public officials can fall prey, almost childlike, to its spell. Our guest‟s verdict
was unambiguous – it was, he said, quite simply the „best museum‟ he had ever
visited. Few would quarrel with the assessment.
Our honorary graduand this morning has the credit - she would say the privilege - of
being head of the Museum, part of the National Museum of Science and Industry.
But even the epithet „national‟ fails to do justice to something that is, by any
standards, truly world class.
Amanda Nevill has good Yorkshire credentials. Born in Leeds, schooled in York, we
might forgive that it took her a little time to reach Bradford. One of five children born
to John and Jill King, her family background provides little clue about her future
destiny. Amanda‟s father ran the family firm established by her great grandfather.
On the face of it, Chancellor, intimacy with the manufacture of metal chains and
conveyors appears of little direct relevance to someone whose main interests in life
were to be cultural and visual. However, it is perhaps fortunate that Amanda inherited
at least some family genes, notably an aptitude for initiative, a capacity for hard work,
and sound commercial acumen.
Leaving Bar Convent School in York, Amanda moved to Wennington School at
Wetherby and, subsequently, to Gateways School at Harewood, near Leeds. Though
offered a place at university, she chose instead to follow her interests in French
language and literature at the British Institute in Paris, emerging with impressive
results in phonetics, grammar, translation and 19
th century French literature.
Returning to England in 1976, she attended the French Institute in London for a year
adding a pretty nimble speed in French shorthand to her portfolio of qualifications.
But by this stage, a clear career path had begun to emerge and, like many things in life,
it was part serendipity. When asked to list the crucial influences in their life, few
people would include the local bus schedule. But, in this case, Amanda has some
cause to be grateful to the irregularity of Leeds City Transport. Returning from
shopping trips to town with her grandmother, and faced with a long wait at the
Headrow bus stop, she would pop into the adjacent Leeds City Art Gallery whilst
waiting for the next No. 21 bus to Roundhay. Unusual among municipal galleries at
that time, Leeds had a policy of buying good contemporary art, and it was there that thshe saw her first work by Bridget Riley. She was fascinated by what she saw. century Dutch still life. It is difficult to imagine too many eleven-year
olds preferring this to the more usual trip to the seaside or to the theme park, but
Around the same time, the end of term „treat‟ at Bar Convent School in York was a Amanda can still recall being „mesmerised by the lecture from start to finish‟. Indeed,
lecture on 17as a teenager, her first trip to London was to see a Turner exhibition at the Royal
The time spent in Paris gave her opportunity to experience first hand the art and the
culture that had, hitherto, been limited to the printed page or pictoral reproductions.
On leaving the French Institute in 1977, Amanda applied successfully for a job at the
Rowan Gallery. It would be a major achievement for any art lover to land such a job,
but especially so for a twenty–year old just starting out. The Rowan Gallery was
seriously into contemporary art, acting as agents for the likes of Andy Warhol,
Bridget Riley and sculptor Philip King.
On her 21st birthday, Amanda decided to treat herself to a painting. It is not clear whether she actually emerged with a painting under her arm but what she did come
away with was a new job in her pocket. She met Francis Kyle who was about to
establish a new Gallery and was quickly snapped up to help with the enterprise.
Between them, the two jobs were perfect grounding – Rowan allowed unparalleled
access to leading contemporary art and working with Francis Kyle exposed her to a
fiercely entrepreneurial spirit.
A year later, Amanda moved to Bath and soon, like many women, career interests had
to be juggled with family responsibilities. Even so, it did not prevent her from
launching the first contemporary art fair as part of Bath Annual Festival. Despite
some resistance, and the fact that the market for such work was, at that time, relatively
small, tickets were sold out on the first day. Amanda was to run the fair for five years.
But, by far, the „productions‟ of that period in which she takes greatest pride are her
daughters, Abigail and Cordelia, both of whom, along with Amanda‟s mother, we are
pleased to welcome today.
Fate was soon again to step in when Amanda discovered that, in partnership with the
BBC, Kodak was organising an exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society entitled
the Living Body. Feeling bold, she wrote to the President of the Society offering her
services. She was slightly surprised to be summoned for interview by an intimidating
array of grey-suited chief executives but they were clearly impressed since, by the
time she had driven home to her parents in Leeds, a representative of Kodak had
tracked her down and was ringing to offer the job. He asked two questions – would
she do it and how much did she want to be paid? The first was simple to answer; she
had no idea how to respond to the second. It was fortunate that her father was on
hand to suggest a figure – a rather large sum that Amanda feared would cause them to
withdraw the offer - but, wisely, they agreed to pay.
The Royal Photographic Society was to be Amanda‟s workplace for the next nine years, first as administrator (in effect, the public face of the Society) and then, following the retirement of the Society‟s Secretary in 1990, as Chief Executive and Secretary. Not bad for a 33 year-old.
The Society‟s loss was to be Bradford‟s gain when, in 1994, Amanda was persuaded
to come to Bradford to head up the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. Already established as one of the country‟s most successful and innovative museums under its first director, Colin Ford, it has gone from strength to strength under Amanda‟s energetic and visionary stewardship.
For many here today, early recollections of museums may conjure up the picture of an enforced school tour around a dark and dingy building with dusty and glass-encased exhibits, guarded by a crusty curator whose prime aim in life appeared to be to keep visitor and exhibit as far apart as possible. Nothing could be further away from what the four million visitors who have come to the National Museum have experienced.
Boasting more visitors than the V & A, and even occasionally outperforming the Dome, the Museum is home to the nation‟s collection of photographs with over three million items. Though often known simply as the „National Photographic Museum‟, as its proper title suggests, its remit and displays cover the whole range of cinematography and television. Its exhibits range from the earliest film footage and John Logie-Baird‟s prototype televisions through to the most up-to-date visualising
and imaging equipment. Notably, it installed the first IMAX screen in Europe, and this remained the only such facility in Britain until two years ago.
In common with museums, it celebrates the past but, unlike many, it also has its eyes set firmly on the future. Although devoted to the visual, it exploits all of the senses. Above all, it epitomises the growing convergence of science, culture, entertainment and education. The University is certainly very proud of its association – one that is
manifested in this hall by the array of Electronic Imaging students who are graduating today.
And what then of Amanda‟s particular contribution to this success story? Quite simply she is the driving force. Through energy and a continuing dedication to enhancing the visitor experience, the museum goes from strength to strength. It is illustrated by the way that she negotiated the funding, and steered the Museum through its recent ?17 million refit. In reality, it was much more than a refurbishment, with its new Imaging Frontiers, it was a total transformation.
But when pressed about her personal accomplishments, she is quick to deflect and to pay tribute to others, both her colleagues at the Museum and those whose work and views have shaped her own. Prominent amongst these are the Director of the National Science Museum, Sir Neil Cossons, who has been such a staunch supporter and mentor, and David Putnam, Chair of the Museum‟s Advisory Committee, whose own energy, imagination and simple thirst for knowledge are so well mirrored in our honorary graduand.
Amanda is universally described by colleagues as energetic, focused, committed – she
demands the highest standards, both of herself and of others. She is a person of boundless energy who is, in every sense, an inspirational leader.
I might give two examples – not many bosses would be able to persuade colleagues to
join them on teambuilding exercises on the sands at Sunderland. (I would certainly not advise our Vice Chancellor to test the loyalty of his senior colleagues by
suggesting something similar!) Even fewer would attempt, as she did when meeting the Queen a couple of weeks ago, to try to flog a family ticket to see
IMAX…..although, to be fair, I think she did offer a small discount as the Queen
Mum‟s birthday present.
Amanda says that, when she leaves the house each day, she feels as if she is starting afresh. Those who consider themselves „all knowing‟ are the people who have
stopped learning. She is passionate about what she does and absolutely committed to conveying that passion to her visitors.
Chancellor, Amanda Nevill thinks she‟s lucky to have the job she enjoys. We know that we are the lucky ones to have her, and the Museum, in the heart of our City. The University values many collaborations with institutions, both here and overseas, but I can think of none that have given us so much enrichment, and enjoyment, as that with the National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television.
Chancellor, for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, I present Amanda Elizabeth Nevill.
Oration given by Professor Colin Mellors
Doctor of Letters
My Lady and Chancellor, happy are those who actually enjoy their remunerative
employment. Not only do they experience a deep sense of personal fulfilment in their
work, but in general their performance is enhanced by the pleasure derived from what
they do. Such happy people appear to be in a minority these days. Far too many of us
are occupied in boring and dead-end jobs, undertaking repetitive, routine tasks,
communicating only via the screens of personal computers, studying endless spread-
sheets, being slaves to drudgery and bureaucracy, all in the cause of making money.
But George Layton, our present nominee for an honorary doctorate, is most certainly
one of the happy minority, and throughout the forty years of his career to date his
strong sense of „joie de vivre‟ has been matched by an equally ample sense of „joie de
travailler‟. He was born on 2 March 1942 here in Bradford at St Luke‟s Hospital,
about half a mile from the spot where he is now, and he‟s come a long way since then!
He was the son of Austrian parents who had settled in Bradford. He attended
Lilycroft Primary School in Manningham, where one of his teachers, Mrs Hartney, set
George on the way to a career on the stage. It was at that time when George was
rehearsing for, and appearing in, a school play that his mother, Edith, recognised that
he had become much easier to control. One wonders whether the same applies still
But George‟s next school, Belle Vue Grammar School, needed some persuasion that
he was made for an acting career. While he was a pupil there during the 1950s, he
was involved in his own extramural activities at the Civic Playhouse in Bradford,
where the secretary received a written request from George‟s headmaster at Belle Vue,
asking that he be discouraged from participation in the theatre; happily the secretary
had recognised George‟s Thespian talent and potential, and she went personally to the
school to persuade the headmaster to withdraw his request. Subsequent events have
shown what a lesson that is for all of us who are professionally involved in education.
It was from the Civic Playhouse in the late 1950s that George went on his first
theatrical tour, to the Torre Abbey Theatre in Torquay to perform in “Seagulls over
Sorrento”, an experience marred by difficult relationships between the all-male cast
and a formidable female stage-manager.
From school in Bradford, George won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Art in London, where he won the Emile Littler award for Most Promising
Actor. So his professional stage career was launched, enabling him to do what he
always wanted and loved. He starred at the New Theatre, Bromley, with Helen
Shapiro in the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, which
sounds like a course which we ought to run at the University Management Centre!
And when Miss Shapiro moved to play the part of Nancy in a production of “Oliver”
at the Albery Theatre, George went with her as Fagin, the first of his two spells in that
role, first at the Albery and later at the Palladium. He recalls with relish how once,
while Fagin was counting his ill-gotten cash on stage, a five-pound note was blown
off stage into the orchestra pit, only to be grasped back from the conductor by the
avaricious Fagin. Or again, at the same point in the show, how the siren of a police-
car was heard passing the theatre, much to Fagin‟s spontaneous consternation. Or
again, when Fagin was teaching his gang of boys “How to pick a pocket or two”, how
he found that young Oliver had actually gone to sleep. All actors should beware of
the dangers of appearing with children or animals!!
George Layton‟s face has become known to millions through his many television
appearances. In the first “Dr Who” series, with Patrick Troughton in the lead, George played the part of Navigator Penn. In “It Ain‟t Half Hot, Mum” on BBC Television
he took the part of Bombardier Solomons, and he created the role of Paul Collier in
the London Weekend Television programmes “Doctor in the House”, “Doctor at Large”, “Doctor in Charge”, and the BBC programme “Doctor at the Top”. And, for
all these Doctor programmes, George was the scriptwriter, so we can now speculate
on whether there will soon be a new series entitled “Doctor of Letters”. His
scriptwriting activities also created six series of “Don‟t wait up” on BBC TV with
Nigel Havers and Tony Britton, which was awarded Best Comedy Series of 1990 by
the Television and Radio Industries Club. And to show his versatility further, George
provided the voice-over for the gormless Sydney in the commercial TV advertisement
for Tetley‟s tea bags.
His skill as a writer has already produced two best-selling books, first “The Fib”
published by Longman in 1975 and secondly, “The Swap” by Macmillan in 1998,
both of which are collections of short stories about a schoolboy growing up in a
northern industrial town. While these books are fiction, the reader may easily detect the scene set in Bradford about 1950. And George is now at work on a novel set in North West London, wherever that may be!
We extend a warm welcome today to this son of Bradford, to his wife, Moya and members of the family, and we wish him continued success in all the work that he enjoys so much, especially in the role of Mr Selophane in the musical show “Chicago”, which he is due to begin at the Adelphi Theatre next month. I know that he is “right chuffed” to be here today, and we are “right chuffed” to see him here.
Chancellor, I present to you, for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, George Michael William Rafael Layton, for his contribution as an actor and a writer.
Oration given by Dr Edmund Marshall
Doctor of the University
Emeritus Professor David Howson
Chancellor, this oration is a Tale of Two Cities – Bradford and Florence. You may
say – what a strange conjunction is this! Bradford is where I work and Florence is
where I go on holiday. What relevance does this have to today‟s address? Let me elaborate: Bradford represents Technology and Florence represents Art. It is a Tale
of Two Cultures. C.P. Snow wrote about the problems and challenges in his book of the same title. More of this in a moment.
David Howson was appointed a Professor of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in the University of Bradford in 1967, following a Senior Lectureship at the University of Birmingham. He was Head of the Deptartment of Electronic and Electrical Engineering here for many years and Dean of Engineering for 3 terms (8 years in all). He was also founder of the Dept of Electronic Imaging and Media Communications (EIMC for short) in 1991. He was awarded a DSc by the University of Birmingham in 1968. His move to Bradford was to start a brain drain of distinguished telecommunications researchers from Birmingham to Bradford, including Professor John Gardiner and Dr Peter Bowron. His was also a Director of Aerial Facilities plc from 1974-1997, a company which grew to over 200 employees during this period.
It was the golden age of telecommunications research. Money, staff, and space were plentiful. An international reputation for the research and the Department was soon established.
My colleagues often speak of David Howson‟s enterpreneurial approach. On one occasion the necessary equipment was not to hand so he drafted in some empty beer barrels from the car park to act as electronic resonators in a particular experiment. It was a cause of much merriment at the time, and also several papers! He developed innovative taught courses including 3 joint MSc courses, 2 with UMIST and 1 with
Loughborough, and several MEng courses jointly with industry. He also served as
EIMC Admissions Tutor for many years as well as being Head of the Department.
In 1990/91 he saw the first signs of a drop in undergraduate applications to EEE and
also a decline in industrial opportunities. Hence the move to develop something new
– EIMC was born.
What is it – this EIMC that David Howson has produced?
Technology, Media, Art & Design. How can I best describe this? May I use some
Technology is like the serve of Pete Sampras – 135 mph – very fast, cutting edge, and
the platform on which the rest of the game is built. However, unlike the Sampras‟
serve, technology doubles in speed every 1.5 years. Imagine coming back to next
year‟s Wimbledon as a potential competitor and finding the Sampras‟ serve had gone
up to 270 mph. Wow! This is what technology does for you! When humans reach the limit of their capability, technology can assist us to do so much more.
Media is like Jeremy Paxman. In your face. Getting your attention. Polling the
international community. Putting you on the spot. There is no escape. For good or
ill – this is it. Wow!
Art & Design
Art is like Sir Ernst Gombrich. Author of the best-selling text – “The History of Art”.
We had lunch with Dr Gombrich some years ago. He was then 91. He had to leave at
1.30 pm to give a seminar at Imperial College. Age doesn‟t matter where art is
Three “Wow Factors” behind EIMC. How can you remember them? You are already
ahead of me. WWW. World Wide Web. It encapsulates all three aspects.
So, what is EIMC?
1. A new degree course. Like all good engineers, David was more concerned with
developing products than using them. In this case, the product was the integration
of technology and media. It became very popular with a new generation of
students wanting an interdisciplinary approach – attracting an average A level st Year entry of 24.9. points on 1
2. It was a capitalisation on local partnerships. More beer barrels, if you like! But
this time filled with vintage wine! One was the long history of Art and Design in
Bradford College, and the other was the stunning National Museum of
Photography, Film & Television. Special thanks are due to Mary Wilson and Tim
Appelbee in Bradford College and Amanda Nevill (and her predecessor, Colin
Ford) and Tony Sweeney at the Museum – for supporting this vision and
continuing to support it.
3. EIMC Graduates. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex said in a
recent Funding Council Conference on 28 June: “Graduates are the main source
of knowledge transmission into industry”. This year‟s 90 EIMC graduates are a
continuation of an excellent tradition.
The spirit in EIMC is due in no small measure to its founder!
Since 1994, the EIMC Dept has generated 450 graduates. This represents
approximately ?7 million in Funding Council income to the University. If we
were to operate a royalty system to the author, of say, 5% - he would be doing
very nicely. However, the real royalty value for the country and our future is
the graduates, and how they go out and change the world.
4. EIMC is an opportunity for growth in the University. Our world is changing –
whether we like it or not, or whether we agree with it or not.
5. EIMC is a real challenge for University Administrators! When any new initiative
comes along it is inevitably a challenge – by definition - to the status quo. On
behalf of the Department, I would like to thank the University for all the help and
support we have received.
6. Above all, EIMC is FUN! This provides the BUZZ!
So if David Howson is an entrepreneur, what is an entrepreneur?
1. Someone who can use resources at hand and create something innovative and new.
The early days of EIMC were characterised by “beg, steal and borrow”. A
makeshift Departmental office with packing cases for a counter. Staff were
borrowed from other areas of the University in order to get things going. And
virtually no equipment.
2. Someone who never takes no for an answer. Many people today tell me that
something is impossible. All they are saying is that they can‟t do it.
3. Someone who gets ahead of the game. But you only realise this in retrospect.
In 1995 I was asked to prepare a report for a Committee of the Higher Education
Funding Council on this area of “new media”. I was surprised to learn that EIMC
had already been going for 3 years, delivering its first set of graduates in 1994.
He had stolen a march on the Funding Council and traditional lines of approach –
they were just getting around to considering it. The University got a lead which
has been a great advantage with the subsequent rise of the competition in this area
in other Universities. It is fair to say EIMC is the brand leader in the UK, which is
why the short form of EIMC is so well known.
4. Someone who overcomes the opposition, or goes round it. He used his own
ingenuity to provide solutions. You have to be a visionary, or an innovator – to
make it work and to carry it forward with a team of likeminded people. David
Howson put that team together. Particular credit is due to the team – members of
whom are here today. In addition to those I have already mentioned, Roger Green
was an early convert and loyal supporter, and Paula Dale has provided front line
support from the inception of the Department and has been David Howson‟s
shadow in converting principles into practice.
So – what about Bradford and Florence? Does EIMC integrate technology and
art? Yes, indeed!
Does the University accept this? Most certainly. Our applications for student places in EIMC are up substantially this year. It is an unprecedented increase.
What is the killer argument for the remaining doubters? Benchmarking what is
done here with international initiatives and standards. Rosabeth Kantor‟s book:
“World Class – Thriving Locally in a Global Economy” sets out the challenge. We
can only survive in the longer term if what we do locally stands up to international
scrutiny and meets international standards and requirements. The Internet and media
communications has created the global village. Our Departments in UK Universities
can no longer be the corner store in the local village and sell our courses to a local UK
community. If it doesn‟t meet the need, our local customers will buy global from
somewhere better – over the Internet.
What is the closest analogue in the USA? Let‟s do a Jeremy Paxman and poll someone across the water. MIT Media Lab. This came out of the Architecture
Deptartment, not Engineering, because its founder happened to be an architect. The
trials and tribulations of MIT Media Lab in a very conservative engineering
University have been well documented in the press. It was a rocky road. However, it
is now very successful – particularly in generating overseas sponsorship. It has 300
people, 170 sponsors, 100 projects.
The world is moving on. You are either on board or left behind. Other major US
Universities have followed MIT. Stanford has a large computer graphics programme.
Carnegie Mellon has set up new initiatives this year in entertainment technology.
Cornell University has one of the largest computer graphics programme in the whole
country. Brown University does leading work in graphics and interaction. When it‟s
validated by the Ivy League, we have most definitely ar rived.
I was very pleased recently to give a former EIMC graduate (and prizewinner) the
highest recommendation to enter the postgraduate programme at MIT Media Lab. I
am sure he will be very successful and hold his own with the best of them. This is
what it‟s all about.
In conclusion, David Howson has created brand leaders and winners in both
telecommunications, and in digital media - that can be benchmarked against
international standards and trends. He has made the difference – an example to all
who follow –
- don‟t take „no‟ for an answer
- listen to what the market and employers have to say
- give the students – the customers – what they want
- motivate and inspire the staff
- train a successor to carry forward the banner
Above all create a vision. Pass the baton to the next generation. With this it will
continue to grow and develop. The challenges he faced have been a tremendous
learning experience for all the staff and students. This is something we can all build
on in the future.
William Blake over 200 years ago penned these words –
“He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged like destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise”
Chancellor, for his contributions to the field of radio telecommunications and for his
pioneering work in developing and promoting interdisciplinary courses involving
collaboration with the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television and
with Bradford College, I present Emeritus Professor David Howson for the degree of
honorary Doctor of the University.
Oration given by Rae Earnshaw
Doctor of the University
Professor Emerita Sheila Allen
Success can come to an academic in many ways. Research, scholarship, teaching,
administration, management, leadership, contribution to wider society and community.
Most colleagues would claim distinction in one of these areas, a number in two or
more. Few, a very few, can claim excellence in all. Sheila Allen is one of those
Sheila is a sociologist. Like all good scientists, her work is driven by an
overwhelming curiosity. Like all good scientists, Sheila has been driven to make her
academic mark, a significant and lasting contribution to her discipline. It is a dream
few colleagues achieve - and a mark of Sheila‟s distinction that she has made not one,
but two such contributions. She was first drawn to work in the area then known as
„race relations‟. Her work helped transform it into the now widely accepted, and
more widely relevant, field of racism and ethnic relations, work eloquently
summarised in her seminal book New Minorities, Old Conflicts. Sheila was also one
of the few brave academics who introduced the study of gender into British
universities in the late sixties and early seventies. Brave because, at the time, they
met with hostility, especially from some senior members of the profession who felt
this new field to be unworthy of serious study. Sheila persevered. Thank goodness.
Her work helped ensure a situation in which gender relations are now seen as central
and indispensable to a proper understanding of society.
Many of you will already have noticed a common theme. Sheila‟s interests are in the
distribution of power, the position of the disadvantaged and deprived, the
development of equal opportunities and equal treatment for all. It is an interest born
from her background. Female and working class, she went to university in the 1950s
when entry was mainly restricted to a very small, middle-class elite. But at that time
it was even more difficult. Many places were reserved for personnel returning from
the war. Sheila first wanted to study Languages, but couldn‟t afford the year abroad.
She next thought of History, but all places were taken. She turned her thoughts to