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Winter Graduations 2023: Celebrating success and preparing for the future

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Published on 27 November 2023

Winter graduations
Winter graduations

The University of Sunderland will host its largest ever round of winter graduation ceremonies this year with more than 2,000 students stepping on to the stage to collect their degrees.

Twelve ceremonies will be held across three days at the Stadium of Light – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – to celebrate all the hard work and effort students have committed to their studies over the past few years.

The students will be joined throughout the week by inspirational figures who will be receiving honorary degrees from the University.

This year’s round of ceremonies will also be extra special as the University will be installing a new Chancellor, Leanne Cahill. Leanne, CEO of retail company Bravissimo and a Sunderland graduate, has been appointed to the role, taking over from Emeli Sandé MBE, who steps down as Chancellor after four years.

Emeli will perform the official handover on Thursday, and both she and Leanne will also receive honorary awards during the ceremony in recognition of their inspirational work in different fields of endeavour.

Emeli receives an Honorary Doctorate of Music, while Leanne is awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in recognition of her outstanding business career and work in promoting social mobility and inspiring confidence in others.

Other leading lights to receive honorary degrees this week include; Sunderland AFC footballer and club legend, Kevin Ball; renowned musician Don Airy, keyboardist in the rock band Deep Purple; and Professor

Mohamed Loutfi, who has more than 30 years’ experience globally in higher education.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “This is, by far, the largest round of winter graduation ceremonies we have ever held as a university. Across 12 ceremonies, we will be welcoming over 2,000 students and 5,000 guests from around the world, all of whom are here in Sunderland to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2023.

"This will also be a very special occasion for the University as we see the installation of a new Chancellor, Leanne Cahill, who will be an excellent role model to our students.

“We will also be saying a fond farewell to Emeli Sandé and thanking her for being our Chancellor since 2019. She has been a great advocate for our work and, through her music and her social media presence, has allowed us to reach audiences that previously did not know about the University of Sunderland.

“I am delighted therefore that we will recognise Emeli’s contribution through the award of an honorary degree as she steps down.”

As thousands of guests travel from across the world to attend bi-annual graduation ceremonies at the Stadium of Light, they provide an economic boost to business in Sunderland and the wider region, generating millions of pounds for the hospitality industry.

The ceremonies will be streamed live from the Stadium of Light on the University’s main website