UWE awards honorary degree to Professor Eric Thomas

Issue date: 10 November 2010


The University of the West of England will award the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science to Professor Eric Thomas in recognition of his considerable leadership in higher education, and, more specifically, his role in leading Bristol's Science City and in developing sustainable partnerships between the University of Bristol and UWE.

The Honorary Degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the School of Health and Social Care on Friday 12 November 2010 at 14.00 at Bristol Cathedral.

Born in Hartlepool in 1953, Eric Thomas graduated in Medicine from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1976. He held junior medical training posts in Newcastle, Leicester and Sheffield between 1976 and 1987, and proceeded to obtain his MD (Doctor of Medicine) in 1987, conducting research into endometriosis.

Eric Thomas was a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from 1987 to 2001, for Newcastle General Hospital and Southampton University Hospitals Trust. He served as non-Executive Director for the Southampton University Hospitals Trust between 1997 and 2000, and then as non-Executive Director of the Southampton and South West Hampshire Health Authority between 2000 and 2001. He was also a Member of Council for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists between 1995 and 2001, and served as Chairman on their Scientific Advisory Committee between 1998 and 2000. In addition, he held the position of Medicines Commissioner from 2002 to 2003.

Eric Thomas worked as a Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Sheffield between 1985 and 1987, and then as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne between 1987 and 1990. In 1991 he was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Southampton, going on to become Head of the School of Medicine there in 1995, and then Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences in 1998. Professor Thomas has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol since September 2001.

During his career Eric Thomas has held a number of prominent national and regional positions. He has served in a number of advisory roles, for example, as Diversity Champion at The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, as a member of Universities UK's Health Committee, as Trustee and Chair for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (Europe), and is also a Board Member of CASE. He chaired the government Taskforce into Increasing Voluntary Giving in Higher Education, which reported in 2004, and was Chair of the Worldwide Universities Network. Professor Thomas has also been a member of the Board of the South-West Regional Development Agency (2002-2008), a member of the Bristol Partnership Executive Board (2008-2009), and a trustee of the Greater Bristol Foundation (2003-2006).

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said, “I am very pleased to have received this honour. We are fortunate in Bristol to have a city that has two high-quality and complementary universities and that is also such a power house of science and innovation.”

Professor Thomas is the current Vice-President of Universities UK, Chair of its England and Northern Ireland Council and Chair of the Research Policy Committee, and a member of the Universities UK Board. He has recently been appointed to serve as a Commissioner of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.

He is a Deputy Lieutenant of the City and County of Bristol, President of the Bristol Commonwealth Society and a member of the At-Bristol Advisory Group.

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