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Royal Holloway presents Honorary Fellowships for 2024

Royal Holloway presents Honorary Fellowships for 2024

  • Date06 June 2024

Royal Holloway, University of London, has awarded four new Honorary Fellowships.


L-R, Cllr Elaine Gill (Mayor of Runnymede), Professor Wendy Thomson CBE (VC of University of London, Professor Julie Sanders, Dr Nigel Rata, Dame Margaret Hodge, Lady Arden of Heswall (University Visitor), Shahid Azeem (High Sheriff of Surrey) Professor Matthew Humphreys, Dr Will Shüler, Phil Simcock, Professor Sarah Ansari Professor Paul Layzell CBE, Kyriaki Spanou, Prakriti Malhotra, Professor Francis Robinson CBE

Honorary Fellowships are awarded to those who have achieved eminence and those who have made an outstanding contribution to the life and work of the University.

Professor Paul Layzell CBE, Prakriti Malhotra, Professor Francis Robinson CBE and Kyriaki Spanou were all recognised as new Honorary Fellows at this year’s ceremony, which was held at the University on Wednesday 5 June 2024.

The ceremony was led by Professor Julie Sanders, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and the Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge, Chair of Council. Guests included staff and students of the University, as well as Honorary Fellows, the High Sheriff of Surrey and Mayor of Runnymede.

Speaking on the night, Professor Paul Layzell CBE said: “The University has served the needs of students, local stakeholders and wider society for over 150 years and whilst I am sure today’s university will continue to fulfil this mission for many years to come, we should not take that for granted. It is an opportunity for us all to think about our own contribution to ensuring that the life-changing opportunities this university affords to students, continues successfully into the future.

Also speaking at the event, Prakriti Malhotra added: “Our admiration for Royal Holloway's pursuit of academic excellence and community engagement runs deep. Being recognized by such an institution is a personal and professional honour that we will always cherish.”

Professor Paul Layzell CBE was Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London between 2010 and 2022 and has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his extensive service to the University and our students during his time as Principal.

He also served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of London from 2019 to 2023. Prior to his appointment at Royal Holloway, Professor Layzell was an information technology and education leader for several decades, specialising in adaptable software systems and cloud computing.

Between 2001 and 2004, he managed the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and the Victoria University of Manchester – forming the current University of Manchester

Paul was also a chair of AQA, the UK’s largest GCSE and A-level awarding body, for seven years and has held other chair and non-executive roles in IT and education businesses, including HFL Education and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.

Prakriti Malhotra has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship for her outstanding charitable work as a co-founder of the FutureSense Group, a charity that supports communities in some of the poorest regions of the world, and for working with Royal Holloway to provide volunteering opportunities for hundreds of students.

Malhotra co-founded Futuresense Group with her husband Arvind in 2005 and  leads the Challenges Abroad UK team. As a founding trustee, she has been involved with the strategic developments of the FutureSense Foundation from its start, helping it take shape across the global hubs and establish key partnerships.

Malhotra has been involved in development work at the grassroots level for over 30 years and is passionate about tackling women’s issues and the challenges facing the girl-child in developing countries. She strongly believes that through education and community action we can enable change and bring about equality.

Professor Francis Robinson CBE has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his contributions to education and research during his time as Head of the Department of History and Vice-Principal (Research and Enterprise) at the University.

Professor Robinson joined the University in 1973, having read History at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a Prize Fellow from 1969. His academic research has focussed on Islam, particularly in the context of South Asia.

He was appointed CBE for his contributions to Higher Education and the History of Islam in 2006, and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey in 2011. Professor Robinson also spent two three-year periods as President of the Royal Asiatic Society and has served as both a Senior Golding Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, and a Mellon Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago.

Kyriaki Spanou has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship for an extensive career in theatre direction and playwrighting. Spanou studied Philosophy at the University of Athens and Acting at Veaki Drama School, with the grand landscape of theatre capturing her imagination and taking her postgraduate studies to Royal Holloway.

Upon returning to her native Greece, she directed extensively for the theatre and taught dramaturgy and directing at the Drama Department of Aristotle University - in Salonica - for 17 years. As the Artistic Director of Thessaly Theatre – one of the most important subsidised theatres in Greece - she established a network of international synergies, most notably with Royal Holloway. One of these being the International Network of Greek Drama - a favourite project of hers.

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