Thu 21 Jul 22
Education journalist Judith Judd has received a honorary degree for her tireless work to support the University of Essex.
The former editor-at-large of the Times Education Supplement joined the University of Essex’s governing board Council in 2010, became a Pro-Chancellor and eventually took on the role of Chair in 2018.
During her time on Council, Judith was the presiding officer at numerous graduation ceremonies.
She told graduating students: “I am amazed and honoured to be standing here today. Part of my job as a pro-chancellor of the University was to present honorary degrees. And what remarkable people the University’s honorary graduates are: the nurse who caught Ebola because he wouldn’t desert his patients in an epidemic, the founder of a charity that supports black and minority ethnic teenagers, and lifelong campaigners for human rights to name just a few.
“It’s been one of the great delights of my life to congratulate hundreds of smiling, proud graduates, sometimes wearing impossible shoes, sometimes giving me such a big hug that my hat fell off and always stamping and cheering to support their fellow students. So thank you Essex and thank you, particularly to all of you.”
Orator Bryn Morris, Registrar and University Secretary, paid tribute to Judith. He said: “Since Judith’s first involvement with the University, over a decade ago, she has demonstrated her Essex Spirit in both words and actions. She has contributed to bold decisions that have seen us become a top 30 University and University of the Year 2018; achieve a 50 percent growth in student numbers and deliver multi-million-pound improvements across our three campuses – while expanding our reach and reputation globally.
“In her capacity as Chair of Council, Judith proved invaluable in her thoughtful leadership and support, and she wasn’t afraid to challenge at times: specifically throughout the development of the University’s strategic plan that is taking us through to 2025.
“Judith has been a hugely generous mentor to other governors and trustees of the University, including the staff and student members who, together with the external members, make up our Council. She has been a delight to work with and is a tremendous friend of and asset to the University.
“Perhaps more than anything she demonstrates our values every day in her work: Taking the very latest and best research findings not only to build understanding but also to inform the education of future generations of pioneers, change-makers, and global citizens.”
Judith joined the University’s Council in 2010 as an external member. In 2012, Judith became one of our three Pro-Chancellors and in 2018 she was selected to become the Chair of the Council, leading its work during a period of considerable success for the University.
A history graduate of St Anne's College, Oxford, Judith has had a long, successful and respected career as an education journalist.
She started out as a reporter and education correspondent for the Birmingham Post and Mail in 1974, and in 1976 she became news editor for the Times Higher Education Supplement. A move to the Observer came in 1979, where she covered religious affairs and in 1989 she began an 11-year spell on The Independent, where she covered politics and education.
She remained at The Independent as education editor until 2000, when she moved to the Times Educational Supplement as Associate Editor, with particular responsibility for the news and analysis sections. Promotion to editor followed in 2005 and then editor-at-large, a role she remained in until 2009.
Throughout her career, Judith has been a passionate advocate for education. She was a board member of Whole Education, a schools partnership which promotes innovation and which believes all young people should have a fully-rounded education; and she was also a governor at Anglia Ruskin University until February 2006.
She continues to be a patron of the Education Media Centre, an independent charity set up to improve the public and media understanding of education research and evidence, by helping the media to use academic and research expertise in the education stories they are covering in newspapers, on radio and TV and online.
In 2019 she published a book, co-written with fellow journalist Wendy Berliner, called ‘How to Succeed at School: Separating Fact from Fiction – what every parent should know’. It is described by the publishers as: “Using the most important research, studies and data which, until now, have largely been hidden away in academic journals, distinguished education journalists Wendy Berliner and Judith Judd are putting this vital information into the hands of parents and teachers for the first time, helping to answer the everyday questions they are often asked.
“This highly accessible and user-friendly book shines much-needed light on the facts, myths and burning questions that too often leave us confused and in the dark about key issues."
Following her retirement from journalism in 2009, in her role as an external member of our Council, Judith joined a number of important subcommittees, including chairing our Equality and Diversity Committee. And, multitudes of Essex graduands were congratulated by Judith as she served as presiding officer at many of our graduation ceremonies, celebrating the hard work and success of our students.