Episode 8: Celebrity honorary graduates, chancellors and graduation garb

Apr 08, 2020, 08:04 AM

Another in the series of University Registrars Talking About Stuff features intensive discussions about honorary graduates, both anonymous and famous, university chancellors and, of course, the controversial issue of graduation dress.

Episode 8  in the series of podcasts featuring two university Registrars talking about higher ed stuff. In this instalment Dave Hall of the Open University and Dr Paul Greatrix of the University of Nottingham talk about some more highly pertinent higher education matters, this time it is largely about matters ceremonial. First off we look at the thorny issue of the award of honorary degrees and the move from awarding them to eminent and worthy but largely unheard of academic high achievers to the more recent trend of focusing on those with more star quality and celebrity status. Terry Wogan, Brian Clough and John Cooper Clarke all get a mention as does Dave’s failed attempt to engage Archbishop Desmond Tutu in profound theological debate. High profile honorary degree revocations are covered too together with the risks of recognising serving politicians. From honorary degrees we move naturally to the ceremonial position of university chancellors where again there are some striking examples of both celebrity and more mainstream appointments to what still seem to be valuable roles for institutions. Finally we consider the controversial issue of graduation dress where the centuries old gown market is being disrupted thanks to a Dragons’ Den supported company. It’s a mortar board jungle out there.