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Thursday 8 July 2004


Ernest O. (Max) Maxwell

Public Orator, Jon Walker presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Thursday 8 July 2004 at 10.30am.

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen, Graduands,

Ernest Maxwell – better known to us as ‘Max’ Maxwell – is an engineer, but more than that he is a Loughborough engineer. He was born in Jaipur, India in 1929 where his father co-founded the State Railway, and his passion for engineering is really no surprise – by the age of just 12 he had already begun an informal apprenticeship in the railway workshops.

In 1946, aged 17, he arrived in Loughborough on his first ever day in England. Max studied Mechanical Engineering joining a group of mostly older students, many recently demobbed – his first roommate was 32 and already had a Military Cross!

At that time Mechanical Engineering was taught at Sainsbury’s – or rather in the College buildings where Sainsbury’s now stands. The only buildings on this main campus were the athletics track and pavilion, Hazlerigg and Rutland, the old pool and Victory Hall.

You fans of FND will be pleased to know that dance culture has always been a part of Loughborough life. It was at the Town Hall dance, on the same Saturday Max scored his maiden century for the College cricket team, that he met Beryl who was to become his wife 53 years ago.

On leaving Loughborough Max joined the recently nationalised British Electrical Authority as a graduate trainee. Beginning with conventional coal-fired power stations, during the 1950’s Max became part of the team overseeing the design, tenders and commissioning of the first of Britain’s nuclear power stations. His forty year career in the industry led to overall responsibility for reactor refuelling for the North West.

Shortly after retirement Max began a ‘second career’ making a substantial and valued contribution to the future of the University. He joined the small team running the ‘Guild of Loughborough Students’ and helped it evolve into the Alumni Association.

In 1997 he was elected President of the Alumni Association overseeing many significant advances, including the establishment of the annual golf challenge match, with alumni pitted against a strong University side for the Max Maxwell Challenge Trophy.

As President Max also became a member of University Council, and began to contribute to the governance of the Institution he first attended 50 years before. Co-opted for a further term, Max served for 6 years from 1997 to 2003.

In the later years he chaired the Estates Management Committee, one of the largest Committee roles at the University. During Max’s time an extensive building programme was successfully completed, including many outstanding new sports facilities.

This University thrives because of its students and its staff. But it also depends greatly on lay volunteers who commit time, energy and expertise to serving on its Council and committees.

Increasingly we are seeing alumni who are not just part of Loughborough’s past, or even of its present, but who are committed to playing a full and meaningful role in the future of the University. In this respect, Max Maxwell, class of 1948, through his contributions to the Alumni Association and to the governance of the University is an example to us all.

Therefore Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you, and to the whole University, ‘Max’ Maxwell, for the Degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.


Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2004, July 2004
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