Presentation address by Professor Simone Buitendijk:
“Good governance is integral to a well-run University. No institution can deliver excellence in education and research, or fully support its students and staff, or implement its strategy and act according to its values, without an effective system of appropriate checks and balances.
At the University of Leeds, we are fortunate that our governance in recent years has been in good hands, in particular those of David Gray, our Pro-Chancellor since 2013. In that capacity, David has chaired the University Council, our governing body – overseeing its stewardship of the University’s assets and reputation, and leading its work to ensure our sustainability and promote our collective wellbeing. He embodies commitment to achieving the highest standards in corporate governance.
Although an ardent supporter of Liverpool Football Club, albeit by marriage, David is a ‘Leeds lad’. After studying Law at Cambridge, he qualified as a solicitor, and became a Partner of the Leeds firm Hepworth and Chadwick, later Eversheds, specialising in corporate law.
In 2000, he took on a full-time executive role as Managing Partner of Eversheds North, and in 2003 moved to London, first as Managing Partner and Chief Executive, and then as Chairman of Eversheds International, steering the development of the firm into one of the Top 50 global law-firms.
As Pro-Chancellor, David has always been more than generous with his time – remember that roles such as his are unpaid – and has been assiduous in doing his homework, reading every word of sometimes obscure and verbose official papers. I think he enjoyed finding the typos!
I myself have benefitted from the support he gave me as a new Vice-Chancellor, and quickly came to understand that his restless ambition for the University is rooted in his humanity – in his concern for the wellbeing of the staff, students and graduates who make up this special community.
David has made a real difference to the University. His commercial acumen and his legal eye for detail have helped us to hone and refine the development of strategy, policies and operational decisions; his determination to engage the student voice in the governance of the University has been transformational; and his wisdom and values have helped us always to do the right thing.
David John Gray: by virtue of the authority vested in me, I admit you to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.”