Sir Eric Thomas was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science in recognition of his contribution to Higher Education in the UK, and medical research.
"When I was being interviewed for the Vice-Chancellorship of the University of Bristol in 2000, my opening statement was that universities are places of transformation: “they transform people, they transform knowledge and they transform places.”
Sixteen years later, I believe that to be even truer. The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne transformed me. It was where I learnt my profession, where I came up against new and different values and norms, and where I made friends who are still some of my closest, including my wife. It gave me five of the most interesting and enjoyable years of my life.
My biggest intellectual transformation was not as an undergraduate, although that was still a powerful experience.
It was researching for and writing my doctorate. It was then that I learnt the huge importance of enquiry and challenge to orthodoxy and that I had to become strongly intellectually independent.
Perhaps the most important observation I can provide to you is that I still use the intellectual skills I gained at university, today.One of the great quiet pleasures of life is the recognition, years from now, that you are drawing on your learning and experiences at the University of South Wales.
"That is one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive and your duty, articulated on this special day, is to utilise it well for the benefit of people and broader society. Well done to each and every one of you."