Ceremonies bring back memories 50 years on for University’s first graduates

The original graduation line-up of 1964

Eight of the University of Sussex’s first graduates from 1964. Back left: Rachel Semlyen, Nicholas Mason , Christopher Bristow, David Holman, Roger Daw. Front left: Naomi Stadlen, Ann Donnelly, Carol Kedward.

Eight of the University of Sussex’s first graduates from 1964 will be joining in with this year’s graduation celebrations.

Nearly 3,000 new graduates, together with their friends and families, will be attending seven separate ceremonies at the Brighton’s Dome this week (8-11 July 2014).

And at Thursday’s (10 July) ceremony, they’ll be on stage with some of the original 38 students who collected their degrees 50 years ago.

Roger Daw, a retired head teacher who read History at Sussex, remembers the excitement of being right at the start of the University’s history and the impact it had on his future. He says: “Sussex helped me to enter teaching with a firm belief in opening young people’s minds in the broadest way possible.”

Rachel Semlyen, one of the first secretaries of the Students’ Union in 1961–62, was also present at the first ceremony. Her most distinctive memory is of “the gown with the synthetic fur hood, which my parents insisted on buying for me but which I have never worn since”.

Graduation is now a global event, with families and friends travelling from all over the world to take part. The most recent set of ceremonies, in January 2014, was watched live online by viewers in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Among those graduates celebrating their achievements this summer are:  

  • Alexandra Loske, whose  PhD in Art History involved exploring the rich décor of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion

  • Talitha Bromwich, who won a national award for producing the best undergraduate research project in Physics in the UK

  • Corey Pellatt, whose BA in Media has led to a major job in magazine publishing

  • Peter Bailey, who, despite suffering a severe degenerative neurological disorder, has achieved a PhD in Creative Writing  

  • Simon Bell, who used the skills that he had acquired during his  BSc in Computer Science to create an antidote to malicious software

  • Stevie Greenleaf, whose in BA in International Development has led to an appointment as a youth ambassador for U2 singer Bono’s anti-poverty campaign ONE

  • Tim Johnson, whose MEng in Automotive Engineering has helped land him a job with a top engineering consultancy for Formula 1

  • Jack Horlock and Henry Perrins, both graduating in Law, who were runners-up in a national mooting competition

To celebrate outstanding contributions in a variety of areas of endeavour, the University will also award seven honorary degrees to:

  • George Fenton, the composer best known for his film scores and music for television such as the BBC nature documentary series ‘The Blue Planet’ and ‘Planet Earth’

  • Dr Chryssa Kouveliotou, who joined the University of Sussex in 1975 to study for a Masters in Astrophysics and is now a senior scientist working at NASA

  • Olivia Lichtenstein, a documentary filmmaker who took her degree in Russian at Sussex in 1975

  • Dame Jil Matheson, the UK’s former National Statistician and a Sussex graduate in Sociology in 1975

  • Mark Pieth, Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who chaired an independent governance committee that in April 2014 “strongly advised” the world football’s governing body, FIFA, to carry out fundamental reform in order to regain its credibility after a series of scandals

  • Professor Sir Michael Rutter, the UK’s first Professor of Child Psychiatry in 1973, who gave the keynote address at the official opening of the University’s Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice in March 2014

  • Michael Semple, who graduated from the University’s School of African and Asian Studies in 1982 and is now one of the West’s most respected experts on Afghanistan.


Notes for editors 







By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Friday, 11 July 2014