University news

Meet our previous honourees

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Each year, The University of Manchester recognises the achievements and contributions of individuals from a variety of fields through honorary degrees, Medal of Honour, and national honours. Want to find out more? Check out our recent article explaining what these awards are and how you can nominate.

Last year’s winners

You can check out the full list of past winners on our website, but we wanted to highlight a couple to give you an idea of what it’s all about.

(L-R: Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Edward Astle and Julie Hesmondhalgh)

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid is the twice-elected African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation. For more than 35 years, she has served in international organisations, leading and implementing national, regional and cross-continental infrastructure projects in Africa, such as the Single African Air Transport Market, Africa’s Single Electricity Market, and the Digital Transformation Strategy. Her academic qualifications include a PhD in Socio-Economic Development from The University of Manchester – from which she has also received an Outstanding Alumni Award.

Edward Astle is Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee of Openreach, Chair of the charity upReach – which helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds to get top graduate jobs – and a trustee of the Lakeland Arts Trust. He spent most of his career in the telecoms and utilities sectors, where he served on the boards of Cable and Wireless, BICC and National Grid. He was also Pro-Rector Enterprise at Imperial College London. Edward was Chair of the Board of Governors at The University of Manchester from September 2016 to August 2022.

Finally, Julie Hesmondhalgh is a Manchester-based actor, writer, theatre-maker, and activist. She set up Arts Threshold Theatre in the early 1990s and co-runs Take Back, a political theatre collective, as well as fundraising group 500 Acts of Kindness. Julie is a patron and supporter of many organisations, including the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Reuben’s Retreat, and Arts Emergency. Her theatre work includes The Greatest Play in the History of the World, Mother Courage and Her Children, and The Almighty Sometimes; and her TV credits include Coronation Street, Dr Who, Catastrophe, and Broadchurch.

We are truly inspired by the achievements and contributions of these individuals and believe that they are great role models for all students. Their stories inspire us all and remind us of the positive impact one person can make in the community and beyond. In 2019, we also honoured Sherry Coutu, Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Vincent Kompany, and Lord Jim O’Neill for their outstanding contributions in their respective fields. We are proud to have recognised the achievements of these individuals and look forward to recognising more in the future.

Get involved

If you know someone you think would be a worthy candidate for our next honorary degree, we would love to hear from you! Please do not hesitate to reach out and join the nomination process for this year.

Nominations can be made online here by Friday, 27 January 2023. We welcome applications from all students.

If you would prefer to submit your nomination by email, please download a Word version of the nomination form and send it to the contact address given on the form.

Together, let’s recognise and celebrate the achievements of those who have made a positive impact on our community.