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Royal recognition for York academics

Posted on 16 June 2014

Two senior University of York academics have received royal recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014.

Professor Hilary Graham & Dr Jane Grenville

Professor Hilary Graham, Head of York’s Department of Health Sciences, has received a CBE for services to social science, while Dr Jane Grenville, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students, was awarded an OBE for services to higher education.

A public health researcher with a background in sociology and social policy, Professor Graham’s research has focused on the impact of social inequalities on health, looking in particular at cigarette smoking.

She has led major programmes of research on health inequalities and public health funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department of Health, and has been a member of the Social Policy and Social Work Panel in the UK Research Assessment Exercises in 1989, 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2014.

Professor Graham said: “I regard this award as an honour for York where I started out on my career as a BA student of Sociology in 1968, going on to study for an MA and PhD. I returned to York in 2005 as a Professor of Health Science after working at Bradford, Coventry, Lancaster and Warwick universities.”

Dr Grenville began her career as an archaeologist at the age of twelve when, inspired by the I-Spy Archaeology book, she volunteered for an excavation on a Romano-British cemetery site. Digging took her to many parts of the UK and as far afield as Syria and Libya before she turned to the study of standing buildings as archaeological evidence in her early twenties.  This led in turn to an interest in the conservation of historic buildings and her research has been in two main areas: medieval buildings and an exploration of the reasons why historic places are so significant in the contemporary world.

After an early career in the heritage sector, she joined the Department of Archaeology at York in 1991 and was immediately struck by the University’s positive attitude towards students.  After a spell as Head of Department between 2001 and 2006, when she was also a Commissioner (Board Member) of English Heritage, she was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students in 2007 and succeeded Professor Trevor Sheldon as Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2012.  She was proud to be York’s first female Vice-Chancellor, if only as interim for one term, in the Autumn of 2013.

Dr Grenville said: "I’m honoured, if somewhat baffled, to have my small contribution to student life recognised. York is exceptional in the nature of the partnership between the student body and the institution at departmental, college and University level and it has been a huge privilege to contribute to the strengthening of that bond through a period of intense political change in higher education.

“University is nothing if it is not the opportunity for students to leave their social and cultural comfort zones behind them and cultivate understandings of difference through wide friendships and challenging teaching.  Politicians of all parties are thinking about their 2015 manifestos and I hope they are considering how their policies on the funding of higher education and on immigration can support, rather than undermine, universities’ critical position as test-beds for tolerance.

“Poor decisions about funding regimes and the reluctance of governments to remove student numbers from the net immigration statistics will lead to less socially diverse campuses. This is to the detriment of us all."

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