Professor Chris Whitty joins hundreds of students at Graduation 2021

England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University during its 2021 Graduation celebrations.

Professor Whitty, Chief Medical Adviser to the UK government and head of the public health profession, joined graduating students on the Hoe on Thursday to receive his Honorary Doctorate of Medicine in recognition of his support for the University's medical science research community.

He was presented with the doctorate by the University's Chancellor, The Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum, in the ceremony for the School of Biomedical Sciences and the Peninsula Medical School.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Petts CBE, reading the citation for Professor Whitty, paid tribute to his commitment to clinical work, including the treatment of patients alongside the demands of his strategic and advisory roles. She thanked him for his support of the research community, including his contributions to the Clinical Research Network South West conference and to the Faculty of Health.  Professor Petts also referred to the work of several senior academics who contributed to the CMO's annual report on the health of coastal communities.

“It was an honour to recognise Professor Chris Whitty in our Graduation Ceremonies and to be able to thank him on behalf of the University and the region for his invaluable support to the research community,” 

Professor Petts added. 

“As with our other selected honorary doctorates, it is an opportunity to not only pay tribute to their outstanding achievements, but to create opportunities for future engagement that will benefit our students, our civic mission and our communities.”

Speaking after the award, Professor Whitty said:

“It was an honour to receive a degree with University of Plymouth students graduating in medicine and health sciences, many of whom have been working to combat Covid-19 as well as completing their studies. This generation of students have had a particularly hard last two years and have responded remarkably. It was also an opportunity to celebrate the great medical research the university conducts which will improve health in the future.”

Among the other leading public figures to be recognised was multiple Emmy-nominated oceanographer Philippe Pierre Cousteau, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science for his work with the University's Marine Institute. Also awarded a Doctorate of Science was eminent Scottish zoologist Professor Sir Ian Lamont Boyd FRSB FRSE.

Lord Terence Etherton, formerly one of the most senior lawyers in the country, having held the positions of Master of the Rolls, Head of Civil Justice and Chancellor of the High Court, was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Two senior figures in the Royal Navy were also honoured: Vice Admiral Keith Blount, Commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business; while Rear Admiral Nigel Guild FREng, who held the position of Controller of the Navy, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering.

Professor Richard Ibbetson, one of the most respected dental education experts in the country, was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Dentistry for his longstanding support of the Peninsula Dental School. And The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, the Bishop of London and former Chief Nursing Officer for England, was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Health.

Rounding off the week, the University conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Arts upon Charles Courtenay, the 19th Earl of Devon, for his contribution to culture in the region and his support of the University’s history and heritage research community.

Images from Graduation 2021

A selection of shots from this year's Graduation Week

  • Phillippe Cousteau receives his Honorary Doctorate of Science

  • Students celebrating on a sun-bathed Hoe

  • Students graduating in Plymouth Business School

  • Professor Judith Petts CBE with Vice Admiral Keith Blount after presenting him with an Honorary Doctorate of Business

  • Graduation 2021 made a welcome return to the Hoe after the pandemic forced the 2020 ceremonies online

  • Rear Admiral Nigel Guild addresses the audience after receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering

  • Celebrations for the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science

  • The iconic University of Plymouth Graduation picture

  • Business School students overjoyed at receiving their degrees

  • Professor Chris Whitty is presented with his Honorary Doctorate of Medicine by Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum

  • Professor Chris Whitty receives the applause of the graduation ceremony

  • Professor Whitty addresses the graduating medical and biomedical science students