Judge Dredd artist and Tate director among 2018 Honorary Graduates

John Higgins and Maria Balshaw

Liverpool-born comic book writer and artist John Higgins and Tate director Maria Balshaw are among eight esteemed figures to receive honorary degrees from the University of Liverpool next month.

They will be honoured alongside president of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Dame Jane Dacre; founder of the Rushworth Foundation, Jonathan Rushworth; zoologist and curator, Dr Clemency Fisher; Unilever executive, Dr Peter Gallagher; neurosurgeon Paul May; and Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, David McDonnell.

John Higgins is a Liverpool-born artist who found global success as a comic book artist and writer for 2000AD, DC and Marvel, working on such diverse characters as Judge Dredd, Batman and Jonah Hex. In 2017 John worked with the University’s Victoria Gallery & Museum on a retrospective exhibition of his work and wrote and designed an accompanying autobiographical art book, Beyond Watchmen and Judge Dredd, which was published by Liverpool University Press.

Dr Maria Balshaw is the first female Director of Tate art museums and galleries, a role she has held since June 2017. Maria is an alumna of the University and graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Communication Studies in 1991. As previous Director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries she helped to secure Manchester’s place as an internationally significant home for the arts. She also held the post of Director of Culture for Manchester City Council and in 2015 was awarded a CBE for services to the arts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Professor Dame Jane Dacre is president of the Royal College of Physicians, Director of UCL Medical School and an honorary consultant physician and rheumatologist. She was the clinical lead for the development of the first Clinical Skills Centre in the UK and has been instrumental in the development, implementation and evaluation of assessment systems in medicine. In 2018 she was awarded a damehood for services to Medicine and Medical Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Jonathan Rushworth is the great-great-grandson of the founder of Liverpool’s famous Rushworths music store. An alumnus of the University, Jonathan graduated with a law degree in 1970 and remained in Liverpool to complete his training as a solicitor. He then continued his career at Slaughter and May in London, where he was a partner with a wide-ranging company and finance law practice. Now retired from legal practice, Jonathan’s charitable interests include supporting and promoting music, the arts and education, including establishing music scholarships at the University of Liverpool.

Dr Clemency Fisher is Emeritus Senior Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at National Museums Liverpool (NML) and Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum, London. For more than 40 years she was responsible for NML’s internationally important vertebrate zoology collections. Dr Fisher has also researched the history of Liverpool – such as the stories of Toxteth Deer Park, the Liver Bird and the Neolithic footprints of Formby – for exhibitions in the waterfront Museum of Liverpool.

Dr Peter Gallagher is Executive Vice President for Strategic Sciences at Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, and Visiting Professor at the University. An alumnus of the University, Peter joined Unilever after completing his PhD in Organic Chemistry at Liverpool and over the past 32 years has held a diverse range of roles across the globe. His current role includes creating new technologies across the company and developing new models of working with partners.

Paul May is the Senior Neurosurgeon at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust. He was appointed as Merseyside’s first Paediatric Neurosurgeon in 1991 and was responsible for the founding and development of the paediatric neurosurgical service based at Alder Hey, which is now the largest service in the country. He is currently the President of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons, the first from Liverpool in the society’s 92 year–old history.

David McDonnell was President of the University of Liverpool Council from 2007 to 2014 and Pro-Chancellor until 2017. He spent much of his working life with global audit and consulting firm Grant Thornton, and was appointed CEO of the UK firm in 1989 – the youngest appointee in the firm’s history. In 2009 David was installed as High Sheriff of Merseyside and has been Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside since 2010. In 2005 he received the CBE in recognition of his services to the cultural life of the region and of the country.

The honorary degrees will be conferred during a week of ceremonies at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall from Monday, 16 July, in which more than 6,000 students will graduate.