Inspirational honorary graduates announced for Summer Graduation 2023

  • Date

    Wed 28 Jun 23

Honorary graduands 2023

The University of Essex’s summer graduation ceremonies will see honorary degrees awarded to seven outstanding individuals.

This year’s inspiring honorary graduates include numerous Essex alumni who are having a significant impact in their chosen fields. Essex graduates receiving honorary degrees are human rights advocate Laya Vasudevan, award-winning journalist Simon Cox, business leader Dr Jalal Bagherli, executive director of INQUEST Deborah Coles and disability rights activist Dr Jon Hastie.

Others being recognised include Chief Fire Office of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton and leading plant scientist Professor Steve Long, who started his career at the University of Essex.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “Our graduation ceremonies are the highlight of our year and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to share our celebrations with inspirational honorary graduates who are making a difference around the world.

“We are awarding honorary degrees to outstanding individuals who share our commitment to making a positive difference in our communities and display the Essex Spirit through their work.

“I am delighted that many of those receiving honorary degrees are Essex alumni who have gone on to have a significant impact across the fields of business, law, the life science, the media, public service and social activism.

“We look forward to welcoming our honorary graduates to the Essex family in July.”

Our honorary graduates

Laya Vasudevan

An advocate for providing legal protection to vulnerable communities, as Director of Delhi-based Centre for Legal Aid and Rights, Laya played a major role in a landmark case which advanced and protected the rights of the transgender community in India. She now works with New Zealand's Ministry of Women.

Graduation ceremony: Monday 17 July, 10am

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

Chief Fire Office of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Dr Cohen-Hatton has also completed a PhD in behavioural psychology and is an expert on human behaviour and organisational culture. She has won awards for her research work on incident command structure in the emergency services, receiving recognition and influencing policy internationally.

Graduation ceremony: Monday 17 July, 1pm

Simon Cox

An award-winning investigative journalist, writer and broadcaster, Simon has reported from more than 40 countries for BBC Radio4, World Service and TV. An Essex graduate, Simon now runs an investigations team focusing on the Middle East and North Africa region. His first book is being developed into a TV drama.

Graduation ceremony: Tuesday 18 July, 10am

Dr Jalal Bagherli

Dr Bagherli spent 16 years as chief executive of Dialog Semiconductor, a specialist chip company in mixed signal connectivity and power management products for mobile and IOT devices. An Essex graduate, his company has won multiple industry awards. He currently serves as the Chair for Williams Advanced Engineering.

Graduation ceremony: Wednesday 19 July, 1pm

Deborah Coles

Deborah is the respected leader of the influential human rights charity INQUEST, which works on state related deaths, An Essex graduate, she has established a long track record of championing social justice and equality issues and holding the state to account. She has been involved in many landmark inquests and inquiries in the UK.

Graduation ceremony: Wednesday 19 July, 4pm

Dr Jon Hastie

Dr Hastie is a disability rights activist, patient advocate and influencer who founded a user-led organisation supporting adults living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His work has attracted significant funding to create a lasting legacy for the Duchenne patient community. Dr Hastie completed his BA, Masters and PhD at Essex.

Graduation ceremony: Thursday 20 July, 4pm

Professor Steve Long

Professor Long holds the Ikenberry Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at the University of Illinois and directs a multinational Gates Foundation Project that is increasing photosynthetic efficiency in crops to increases yields. He was the founding plant scientist at Essex and has maintained close links with the University.

Graduation ceremony: Friday 21 July, 1pm