Writtle University College graduates celebrated their success at two ceremonies at Chelmsford Cathedral.
Alongside them, Jonathan Jukes, the Curator of Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum in Coggeshall, Essex, and Chris Newenham, the Joint Managing Director of the Tiptree jams company Wilkin & Sons Ltd, were given Honorary Awards.
The ceremonies, on 8 September, were the first for new Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Middleton, who joined the University College in August.
He said: “The last year has seen Writtle College become Writtle University College - the culmination of an immense amount of work to achieve University College status and Taught Degree Awarding Powers. There is a genuine excitement about our future as we grow and develop to become, in time, a new kind of university-level institution, with a clear focus on student success across our course portfolio in land-based and allied sectors. Our new name has already strengthened our reputation, vision and ambition.
“I am very proud to be Vice-Chancellor at an institution with over 120 years of distinguished alumni. The success of our alumni over those years will be a major part of the celebrations of our 125th anniversary next year, and we look forward to hearing about what our graduates today go on to achieve as the newest members of the worldwide family of Writtle alumni.”
Jonathan Jukes was given an Honorary Doctorate Degree and Chris Newenham was conferred an Honorary Fellowship.
Jonathan, who has worked at Marks Hall for over 30 years after studying at Writtle, was nominated for the creation, implementation and ongoing care of the estate, and the educational and economic benefits this work has brought to the county and region.
He said: “Standing here with the benefit of hindsight I can tell you how much I owe to Writtle. It gave me an excellent grounding and first class education in a variety of disciplines, and I have drawn on them throughout my life.”
Chris has worked at Wilkin & Sons Ltd, famous for its Tiptree jams, for 16 years. He is an alumnus of Writtle and was nominated for his passionate support of the University College, including as a Governor over eight years.
Addressing the graduates, he said: “When I was looking for a Commercial Horticulture course in 1985 I found, like you did, an institution that was head and shoulders above the rest. Thanks in no small part to the tutelage, advice and commitment of the staff I gained a HND in Commercial Horticulture and, later, a Degree in Agriculture and a Masters in Business Administration. I had no idea what direction life would take me after Writtle but I had a solid grounding, excellent contacts and a burning desire to work hard and achieve.”
The Mayor and Mayoress of Chelmsford attended the ceremonies to see graduates who had studied courses in Agriculture, Animal Science, Conservation, Design, Equine, Floristry, Horticulture and Sport receive their awards.
Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, Founding Chancellor, gave an address, in which she drew on her extensive parliamentary experience and knowledge of global issues to inspire graduates.
Student-led Teaching Awards and Duchess of Kent awards - which honour support and academic staff for their exceptional contribution to the College - were also awarded.
Representatives from the Students' Union RAG (Raise and Give) charities, Homestart Essex and Marie Curie's Chelmsford Fundraising Group, were given cheques for over £1,460 each.
• For the first time, Writtle University College has bestowed the title of Emeritus Professor. Dr Steve Waite, who retired in July, has been given the honorary award in recognition of his role as Founding Vice-Chancellor and his contribution to the land-based sector. Dr Waite, who was previously Vice-Principal (HE) at Hartpury College and Deputy Head of School and Head of Teaching and Learning at the University of Brighton, intends to continue his research in field biology and plant ecology, undertake teaching as a visiting Professor at WUC and produce a number of publications.