GCU celebrates South African collaboration during winter graduations

26 November 2014

Over 1500 students from the University’s School of Health and Life Sciences, School of Engineering and Built Environment and Glasgow School for Business and Society have graduated in winter ceremonies taking place this week (November 25 and 26).

GCU Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE conferred the degrees during three ceremonies, held in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

The University also recognised the achievements of three leading figures from the worlds of international sports management, world health and global politics.

Honorary Consul for South Africa in Scotland Brian Filling was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his contribution to the University’s work with South Africa over many years, together with the recognition by the South African Government for his lifetime commitment of support and solidarity.

He was the founding Chairperson of the Scottish Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in 1976 and remained in that role until its dissolution in 1994 with the ending of apartheid. He is Chair of the successor organisation, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) Scotland. He is also Vice-President of the UK charity, Community H.E.A.R.T (Health, Education and Reconstruction Training), which supports projects in Southern Africa, including a book appeal which has sent 3 million books to South African libraries and schools.

GCU Vice Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor Mike Mannion, praised Mr Filling for his significant contribution to social justice through his commitment to the anti-apartheid cause and the freeing of Nelson Mandela.  

Mr Filling thanked GCU and, in his address to students, said: “I was asked to approach Nelson Mandela to find out if he would accept an Honorary Degree from GCU. He accepted on condition that GCU contributed to the rebuilding of South Africa. I am pleased that, 20 years on, GCU continues to work with South Africa through its work with Transnet Freight Rail and support for the Mandela Tambo Lecture Series.

“This year, the 20th year of democracy in South Africa, a group of GCU vision sciences students joined the Phelophepa train as it traversed South Africa. One student noted in her diary that she was grateful for the opportunity to change people’s lives.”

David Grevemberg, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cultural and sporting fabric of Scotland, through his leadership role with the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Dr Manuel Carballo, an epidemiologist and Executive Director of the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (ICMHD) in Geneva, was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to academic research, public health and international development throughout the world.