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10 July 2009 | PR 09/89

Role reversal for Loughborough lecturer

Next weekend’s Honorary Degree Ceremonies at Loughborough University will be a special occasion for one father and son team with strong connections to Loughborough University.

Francis Zanker, 81, will receive an honorary Bachelor’s degree on Saturday 18 July, after graduating with a Diploma of Loughborough College in the late 1940s. He will be applauded from the platform party by son Nigel Zanker, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Design and Technology at the University.

A former student of Fine Art, Francis excelled in furniture design and produced some pieces which are still in use across the University, including bespoke items for Dr Herbert Schofield, the first Principal of Loughborough Technical Institute. He went on to forge a successful career in teacher training and became Head of Design and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, before retiring in 1988.

Son Nigel joined Loughborough University in 1989 and has followed in his father’s footsteps, not only teaching design and technology, but also leading teacher training for this subject at the University.

“It’s a proud moment for our family and it will be a real role reversal for me to see my father come onto the stage and collect an honorary degree,” said Nigel.

“We probably have 50 years of teacher training between us and it’s gratifying that it has now come back full circle to where it all began for my dad at Loughborough University.”

Francis added that he was looking forward to coming back to Loughborough University, where he hoped to see a few old friends.

“I have very fond memories of my time at Loughborough, which really set me on my way to a successful career. I think I was a bit of a radical student for my time and I can still remember Dr Schofield’s booming voice shouting my name when he considered me to step out of line!”

“I was offered the position of a student apprentice at Loughborough after attending the Junior School of Art, which was a fantastic opportunity. I wanted to study how to produce stained glass, but because of the war, there was a lack of lead.”

“So I studied furniture design and textiles, which I won a national award for, and I consider myself very lucky to be given the chance to do this.”

“We didn’t have a ceremony back then to receive my diploma – I just received it in the post – so I’m really excited about coming back and having a proper graduation.”

In an event unique to higher education in the UK, Loughborough University will be holding two honorary degree ceremonies on 18 July, with over 1000 alumni returning to campus.

The ceremonies, which have seen unprecedented demand, were open to all those who studied at the University or one of its constituent colleges before degree-awarding powers were bestowed. Those attending will be presented with an honorary BA or BSc.


For all media enquiries contact:

Jo Lumani
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T:01509 228697
E: J.P.Lumani@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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