Yesterday the leather degrees were awarded by the University of Northampton. Despite all the changes in Higher Education in the UK as government tries to work out how to manage costs and the future of skills and employment leather appears to be retaining its importance.
Leather, and to it we must add the University skills in fashion, design, waste management etc., has a number of key advantages for these difficult times:
- we have good contacts with industry in the UK and overseas
- leather graduates are highly employable
- our links extend to the entire supply chain through brands and retail and into many exciting sectors – luxury, auto, footwear and fashion.
- there are some really valuable research opportunities.
So seeing graduates coming forward who have shown outstanding skills in study such as Leela Pamidimukkala coming forward to receive their degrees is an important aspect in our fast changing world.
Apart from Leela and his other colleagues receiving degrees and diplomas we had two other graduates of note yesterday. First was Roy Thomson who received his doctorate based on his studies on the conservation of leather. Roy for many of us is remembered from his days at Strong and Fisher, and it is quite fantastic that he has been able to follow that with a long and fulfilling period as Director of the Leather Conservation Centre which although not formally part of the University is based on Campus just behind the Leathersellers Centre. As a great leather man having retired from the LCC he was motivated to continue his interest in leather by working on a well deserved PhD. Roy deserves all our congratulations.
Our other graduate is Mauro Magnaguagno on whom was conferred an Honorary Doctorate. These days Universities appear to seek out minor celebrities for their degree ceremonies so they can catch quick headlines in the press. But this demeans the value of Honorary Degrees. On the other hand Mauro Magnaguagno is perhaps a perfect example of why and how Honorary Degrees are such a wonderful tool with which to recognise contributions to industry and society.
Mauro is the Director of the TFL Academy in Arzignano in Italy. He instigated and has maintained a relationship with us at Northampton since 2002. A trip to Arzignano with study time with Mauro associated with tannery and machinery company visits in the local leather cluster has become an established part of our teaching. In addition through all this we have started to have a steady stream of students from northern Italy coming onto Northampton full time courses. So while Mauro has through his career made a major contribution to the development of the leather industry in general he has made a huge difference to the quality and experience of leather teaching in Northampton. Rarely has an honorary degree been better deserved.
So all at Northampton we’re delighted that Mauro and his family were with us this week. We are proud of our international links, proud of our industry involvement and no one exemplifies this better than Mauro.
20th July 2012