Degree Speeches
Winter 2003

Professor Ray Wetton

Public Orator, Professor Jim Miller, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 15 December 2003

Chancellor –

For a dynamic and expanding University such as this one, it is clearly important that, in addition to producing high quality graduates such as those receiving their degrees today, the institution takes every opportunity to develop links with industry and business in the local and regional community. Today we honour a former member of the University staff who contributed much to the education of many of our graduates, and has more recently taken a leading and highly successful role in forging these links.

Ray Wetton went to school in Southampton, and took a 1st class honours degree in Chemistry at Bristol University. He went on to do a PhD in polymer chemistry at Manchester University under the supervision of Geoffrey Allen, one of the leading figures in the history of polymer science. He joined the Chemistry staff at Loughborough College of Advanced Technology, as it then was, in 1962, and soon made many significant contributions to the growth of the Department towards full University status. His own research group flourished and in 1975 he took the then very unusual step of forming a new company, Polymer Laboratories. Initially the company made novel instruments for the thermal characterisation of polymers and other materials, but over the years it has expanded to employ over 200 staff world-wide, with products in many areas, including the crucial frontier sciences of biotechnology and high throughput screening. Ray left the University to run the company full-time in 1982, but retained full contact with us as an Industrial Professor. He finally retired from the company in 1996, though Polymer Laboratories is still run by two of Ray’s former students.

Since that time Ray has devoted much effort to developing business links involving the University and the local community. He became the Chairman of the Loughborough Advanced Technology Initiative, a group of high-tech companies large and small, sponsored by major and established firms but providing help and guidance for many smaller and newer ones. Another fine and recent success has been the establishment under his leadership of the Loughborough Innovation Centre. With the aid of very significant – and on-going - funding from the East Midlands Development Association and elsewhere a redundant academic building on the campus has been converted into premises for a variety of enterprises. The initially available space was filled within 9 months, and a further expansion is now under way. Professor Wetton also helps to guide two University committees that provide funding for academic – industrial links, and numerous successful spin-out companies have rapidly resulted.

As is only to be expected at Loughborough, Ray Wetton has been an active sportsman all his life. I can personally vouch for the fact that on the hockey field (he also excelled at rugby and athletics) you would certainly want him on your side and not on the opposition’s side. He still plays a mean game of tennis, but says that, in sport as in business, he really prefers team games. He and his wife Anne still live locally, as do many members of his family who are here to share his great day.

Therefore, Chancellor, it is my delight and honour to present to you and to the whole University today Professor Raymond Eugene Wetton, distinguished scientist, innovative entrepreneur, and a major contributor to the development of the University and the whole community of Loughborough, for the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.

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