Honorary graduates lead out the class of 2023 at the University of Chichester
An eminent KC, Professor Vaughan Lowe; the former Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex Dame Susan Pyper DVCO and the Further Education Commissioner, Mrs Shelagh Legrave CBE DL were amongst those awarded with Honorary degrees by the University of Chichester during graduation ceremonies at Chichester Cathedral last week (16-20 October). Also honoured to join the class of 2023 were two-time Olympian, Ms Lindsey Fraser OLY, who has been involved in the sport of diving for over 40 years as a competitor, coach and judge and Mr Michael O’Dell, better known as ODEE in the esports world.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cathedral’s current Peace Doves art installation, which sees 15,000 white peace doves soaring high in the rafters, each with a message of peace and hope, the five honorary graduates joined over 1,500 students to celebrate their success.
Professor Vaughan Lowe KC was the first person in his family to remain in education past compulsory school age and attended what was then the smallest law school in the country at the University of Cardiff. Specialising in international law, Professor Lowe went on to teach at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester. He was called to the Bar in 1993 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2008. Currently an Emeritus Chichele Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oxford, he also sat as an ad hoc judge on the European Court of Human Rights and served as Special Adviser on International Law to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
Professor Lowe has a special connection with the University of Chichester where he has given a number of talks sharing his expertise with law students. When asked what it means to receive the award of Honorary Master of Law, he said: “It means a lot. The things that you really value are honours that are given by your peers. It’s a real delight to have this from Chichester because I really enjoy helping out there. The law department are terrific, I’ve never come across such a group of committed and enthusiastic people.”
Dame Susan Pyper DVCO retired as Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex at the end of July 2022 after a distinguished period of nearly 14 years holding the office as the Queen’s personal representative in the county. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the same year.
She has a long history of public service, beginning her career as a forensic scientist for the Metropolitan Police before serving for 11 years in the Royal Air Force. In 1992 she began a career in the National Health Service serving as Chairman of a number of NHS Trusts including the Western Sussex NHS Primary Care Trust and the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust.
Dame Susan expressed her delight at being conferred the degree of Honorary Doctor of Science: “This is an honour and totally unexpected. My commitment to and love for science has been the thread that has followed me throughout my career. My advice to today’s graduates would be if a door opens, don’t be afraid to walk through it. Be bold!”
Lindsey Fraser OLY was previously made an honorary Master of Science of the University of Chichester in 2005. Since then she has continued to dominate the sport of diving, and has now attended an impressive seven Olympic Games, in every role possible from competitor to manager and judge – believed to be the only person to do so in diving. Lindsey competed in the Olympics as a diver in 1980 and 1984, and at the Commonwealth Games in 1982. She was the GB team manager and coach at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, before coaching in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. In 2020 she was selected for the first time as a referee and travelled to Tokyo for the summer Olympics.
Lindsey said: “I first worked with Dr Mike Lauder and Dr Neal Smith nearly 20 years ago, prior to the 2004 Olympics where Team GB won its first Olympic diving medal in over 60 years. I was honoured to receive a Master of Science from the University of Chichester in 2005, and I am very humbled and proud to be recognised again in this way with a Doctorate of Sport. It’s wonderful to be able to share this occasion with family and friends.”
Esports legend Michael O’Dell was recognised as an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration. Michael is known as ‘ODEE’ in the esports world and has been part of the scene for 20 years, playing at the highest level in games such as Quake 3 and Battlefield 1942, representing his country on many occasions. Following a successful career as an esports player, he has gone on to manage some of the best esports teams including Team Dignitas, RektGlobal and the Call of Duty franchise London Royal Ravens, a career which has taken him around the world. It’s a far cry from his first tournament in 1999, where he won the small but significant sum of £20.
Michael said: “It’s amazing to me to receive this award. I left school at 15 after I completed my GCSEs and went straight to work, so this is a great honour.”
Former Principal and CEO of Chichester College Group, Mrs Shelagh Legrave CBE DL, was made an Honorary Doctor of Education. Mrs Legrave, who is currently the government’s Further Education Commissioner, was awarded a CBE in 2021 and is currently Senior Trustee at local homelessness charity Stonepillow. A qualified accountant, in her earlier career Mrs Legrave held several senior finance roles in Financial Services at Nat West where she was the Deputy CFO for Global Financial Markets. She began her career in Army where she completed six years as an officer.
Shelagh said: “I feel both privileged and humbled to receive this honorary degree. I’ve really enjoyed my career in education – it changes lives and to be recognised for the work I do is extraordinary.”