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UCA honorary graduates announced for 2016

Our honorary graduates for 2016 have just been announced - Serpentine Galleries director Dame Julia Peyton-Jones OBE, Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley OBE, and leading design historian Professor Penny Sparke will be awarded their honours at our graduation ceremonies, which will be held this month at London’s Royal Festival Hall. 

First to receive her award will be Dame Julia, who will be recognised at UCA Farnham’s graduation ceremony on 21 June for her outstanding contribution to fine art curation.

Dame Julia Peyton Jones 2016 honorary graduate

Dame Julia Peyton-Jones OBE

In her role at the Serpentine Galleries, Dame Julia has been responsible for commissioning and showcasing groundbreaking exhibitions, together with important education and public programmes.

Dame Julia worked as a practising artist in London after graduating whilst also lecturing in fine art, before moving to the Hayward Gallery as curator, and becoming Director of the Serpentine Galleries a few years later. After 25 enormously successful years in the role, she'll leave the institution in July 2016. 

Since Dame Julia became Director, the Serpentine has completed a £4million renovation, increasing visitor numbers three-fold to some 1.2 million. In 2000, she introduced the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission, which sees an architect who has not yet worked in the UK invited to design a temporary construction at the Galleries; these have included designs by the late Zaha Hadid, Ai Weiwei and Oscar Niemeyer. In 2016 she was appointed a Dame of the British Empire for services to art.

Darren Henley will receive his honours at the UCA Canterbury and UCA Rochester graduation ceremony on 22 June, where he will be recognised for his exceptional contribution to creative and cultural education. For 25 years Darren worked in radio, leading Classic FM as Managing Editor and then Managing Director for the last 15 of these.

Darren Henley 2016 honorary graduate

Darren Henley OBE

His two independent government reviews into music and cultural education resulted in the creation of England’s first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the Museums and Schools Programme, the BFI Film Academy, and the National Youth Dance Company. Darren has chaired or sat on a range of government advisory boards in respect of cultural education, and has been a Patron of the Mayor of London’s Fund for Young Musicians, a Vice-President of the Canterbury Festival, and a Commissioner for the University of Warwick’s Commission on the Future of Cultural Value.

In 2013 Darren was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to music. He was announced as the new Chief Executive of Arts Council England the following year. Darren is the author or co-author of 30 books, including The Virtuous Circle: Why Creativity and Cultural Education Count, and the forthcoming The Arts Dividend: Why Investment in Culture Pays.

The final ceremony, for UCA Epsom and Open College of the Arts graduates, will see Professor Sparke honoured for her remarkable contribution to the study of design history.

Penny Sparke 2016 honorary graduate

Professor Penny Sparke

Penny has taught the history of design for more than 30 years. She's written numerous books on twentieth-century design and has curated a series of exhibitions, including The Plastics Age at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Her career has also seen her lecture and broadcast across the world, and she has undertaken leadership roles in Higher Education, as Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design & Music, and subsequently Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), at Kingston University.

A particular research interest of Penny’s has been the meaning of design within the context of consumption and its relationship with gender and identity. From the mid-1990s she has focused her attention on the subject of ‘the interior’, resulting in books such as The Modern Interior (2008).  In 2010, Penny wrote The Genius of Design to accompany the successful BBC2 series of the same name. 

Our graduation ceremonies come at the end of a successful year for UCA, in which it was recognised as one of the UK’s top 40 universities by The Guardian