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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber Honours Outgoing Vice-Chancellors

Kamal Ahmed, Liz Fothergill CBE, Toby Perkins MP and George CowcherThe outgoing Vice-Chancellors of three of the region’s leading universities have been presented with awards to mark their contributions to local business.

Each year, the East Midlands Chamber’s Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Business pays tribute to a local business leader.

This year, there were three recipients of the award – Professor Sir Bob Burgess, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Neil Gorman, the former Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University and Professor John Coyne, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby.

All received their awards at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner last night (Thu 26/3).

Prof Sir Bob Burgess was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester for 15 years, prior to his retirement in September.

He was also Chair of the NatCen Social Research think tank and the Greenwich School of Management, London; President of the Society for Research in Higher Education and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences. He now chairs the Higher Education Achievement Report Advisory Committee and the Grade Point Average Advisory Committee.

In 2010, he was awarded a Knighthood for services to Higher Education.

Prof Gorman became Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University in 2003 and retired at the end of the 2013/14 academic year. During his tenure, he led the design and implementation of a radical new strategy for the university.

He has received numerous awards for his contribution to veterinary science and has also been elected an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge.

And Prof Coyne, who retires at the end of the current academic year after 11 years as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, is a well-known figure across East Midlands academia.

He began his career at Nottingham University, from which he graduated in 1973 with a first class honours degree in Industrial Economics and has held a variety of roles with East Midlands Universities, including Director of the Centre for Management Buyout Research at Nottingham, Dean of Leicester Business School and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University. He also serves as a Commissioner on the UK Council for Employment and Skills.

Previous recipients of the Chamber’s Special Award include former Emda Chairman Dr Bryan Jackson, ex-Bombardier and D2N2 LEP Chairman Colin Walton, former Nottingham City Council Chief Executive Jane Todd and Experian founder and Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Sir John Peace.

Chamber President Liz Fothergill CBE presented the vice-chancellors with their awards.

She said: “Here in the East Midlands and in our three cities and counties in particular, we are blessed with a number of world class universities and it was from the world of academia that the recipients of the Chamber’s special award were drawn.

“By strange coincidence, the Vice-Chancellors at the Universities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham Trent all announced their retirement within months of each other which is why, in a departure from the norm, we decided to give the Chamber’s Special Award to not one, but three recipients this year.

“All have made a significant contribution not just to higher education, but to local business, by overseeing outstanding organisations which equip tomorrow’s business leaders with the specialist skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

The Chamber’s Annual Dinner took place at the East Midlands Conference Centre last night. Around 450 local business leaders attended. Television business editor Kamal Ahmed and Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, the Shadow Small Business Minister, were the guest speakers.

At the event, Liz spoke passionately about the need for business to take responsibility for helping to ensure that all our young school-leavers to share in the region’s ambition and success.

She also described the East Midlands as the UK's manufacturing heartland and said that much of the economic growth secured by the UK in the past 18 months was driven by businesses in the region.

You can read her speech here.