Sir Nick Scheele
Public Orator, Professor Harry Thomason, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Congregation held on the afternoon of Monday 16 December 2002.
Chancellor, Mayor of Charnwood, Distinguished
guests, Ladies and gentlemen, New graduates of engineering
Today our Honorary Graduand in a very
real sense belongs to us. His presence is a signal that the formal ceremonial
of Graduation has given way to something very like a family gathering.
In honouring Sir Nicholas Scheele we are also celebrating ourselves, and
drawing attention to one of the most distinctive characteristics of our
From its earliest days, Loughborough
has developed an exceptional network of partnerships with industry, the
professions, government agencies, associations and commercial enterprises.
Nowadays these partnerships flourish in every Department in every Faculty.
They are the envy of other universities, who cannot match their range
and depth. They give special meaning to all our core activities. They
have a massive impact on the community at large and make up what I can
safely call the Loughborough Trademark.
The strategic partnerships we have
developed are of special importance. These are not off-the-shelf affairs,
but tailor-made collaborations whereby the University and a specific Company
work together in a sustained way, enabling us both to achieve our business
goals to mutual benefit.
In this respect, a jewel in Loughboroughs
crown is the multi-faceted relationship we enjoy with Ford Motor. It is
a relationship that Chancellor Gordon Brown described as a partnership
between one of our great universities and one of our great companies.
Loughborough provides research and teaching on courses that have been
specially designed for Fords engineers and these are organised by
the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering. We also provide
training for Fords retail managers through our Business School.
In all cases, the University is responsible for the academic excellence
of the work while Ford makes sure of its practical relevance to the companys
The clearest demonstration of our mutual
commitment so far is Ford College at Loughborough, which represents one
of the companys largest investments in training outside the USA.
The newly emerging relationship in the Centre of Engineering & Manufacturing
Excellence at Dagenham is also set to become of national importance and
not just local to East London. In all these ventures we are equal partners
as in the best relationships.
And this is why I say that our Honorary
Graduand today is one of the family. Sir Nick Scheele is Ford Motor,
though he would demur and say he is nothing of the kind.
His loyalty and commitment to Ford
over more than three decades cannot be questioned. He has resisted all
the head-hunters and we know there are many who have tried
to chop him off from his roots there.
His career at Ford began in 1966 where
he held senior purchasing appointments in their British and European Operations
before moving to the USA in 1978. He became senior executive of Ford of
Mexico in 1988, where he directed manufacturing and marketing operations
and developed a strong and lasting relationship with the President of
the country. From 1992 to 1999 he was chairman and Chief Executive Officer
of Jaguar Cars Ltd. Under his leadership, sales doubled and Jaguar regained
its place as one of the worlds top marques in brand image, product
quality and customer satisfaction. In January 2000 he was elected Chairman,
Ford of Europe, where he is credited with directing the successful transformation
of the business. In August 2001 he became group vice-president, Ford North
America. Three months later he was appointed president and Chief Operating
Officer of Ford Motor itself and is now responsible for the companys
global automotive business.
Not surprisingly, in 2001 he was awarded
a knighthood along with the Order of St Michael and St George for services
to British exports.
They say Ford people have blue blood
in keeping with their blue badge. In this case it is also touched with
green and gold after Jaguar.
We were delighted when Sir Nick agreed
to accept an honorary doctorate. But we are not welcoming a man who has
focused on business issues and is marked out for that alone. If ever there
was a well-rounded man, he is standing before you today. Sir Nick is deeply
involved in charity and community support projects of every kind and was
voted a lifetime member of the NSPCC after successfully chairing an appeal
to raise money for Boole House, a child care centre in Coventry. He is
an active supporter of the Save the Children Fund, the St Basils
Appeal for Homeless Children, and is a past president of the British Motor
Industry Benevolent Fund. He serves on the Advisory Boards of Coventry
and Durham Universities, the British American Chamber of Commerce, the
Fullbright Commission and many, many more. He became Chancellor of Warwick
University earlier this year, is widely known for his interest in the
education of young people, and has been involved in a number of initiatives
to raise the profile of training and education.
No wonder we are so comfortable with
him. A relaxed, friendly and generous man, he is totally at one with the
Loughborough ethic that places such emphasis on research prestige, teaching
excellence, and the value of successful business enterprise and innovation
that directly contributes to the community we live in.
Sir Nick fully appreciates this larger
role of the modern university. As he said in his speech of a few months
ago when he was installed as Chancellor of Warwick University:
President of Ford Motor Sir Nick may
be; yet here, in a place where everyone works to provide education programmes
that directly meet the professional and social needs of the community
especially its life-blood need for employable skills he
finds himself, I hope, simply at home.
In Ford Europes 2000 Corporate
Citizenship Report, he wrote:
Loughborough is proud to be a significant
part of that ambition by providing the means to help achieve Ford Motors
social goals, as spelled out by this most humane of men. I am truly delighted
to have the honour of saying:
Chancellor, I present to you and the University, Sir Nick Scheele, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.
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