David J Drewry

David Drewry

Areas of Interest

Science and Technology, Education

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science, 1998


Born in Grimsby in 1947, David Drewry is a renowned scientist, writer, and Vice-President of the European University Association and was Vice-Chancellor of Hull University between 1999 and 2009. He was educated at University of London (Queen Mary College), and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he completed his Doctorate in Glaciology and Geophysics (he was made an Honorary Fellow in 2007). He continued his research at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, went on to serve as Director of the Institute from 1984 -1987, and later as Director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1987-1994.

David was Director of Science and Technology and Deputy Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council between 1994 and 1998. In 1998 he was appointed General Director of the British Council. Throughout his career he has been a prolific researcher, publishing three books and more than 100 papers on polar geophysics and ice-sheet-climate interactions. He served as President of the International Arctic Science Committee, Founding Chairman of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs, was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has published widely on science policy and environmental issues. He is Chairman of the South Georgia Association and Visiting Professor at the Universities of London, Xiamen in China and Krakow Academy in Poland. He holds the Polar Medal, US Antarctic Service Medal, the Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Gold Medal, and in 1994 the Prix de la Belgica Gold Medal of the Royal Academy in Belgium. In 2008 he was appointed by the Prime Minister to serve as Trustee of the Natural History Museum. He has a mountain and a glacier named after him in Antarctica.

In 1998 David Drewry was made Honorary Doctor of Science.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctorate of Science to Dr David Drewry. This award is made in recognition of Dr Drewry's outstanding reputation as an eminent scientist of international repute, and his extensive contributions to the promotion of cultural, scientific, educational and technical co-operation between Britain and other countries.

Born in 1947, Dr Drewry obtained his first degree in Geosciences at Queen Mary College of the University of London in 1969, and his PhD in Glaciology and Geophysics from the University of Cambridge (Emmanuel College) in 1973. His contribution to science has been prolific in the fields of glaciology and geophysics, ice-sheet climate interactions, and glacial-geological processes, where he has produced 3 major books and upwards of 85 research papers.

Dr Drewry holds the Polar Medal and United States Antarctic Service Medal. He is an Honorary Fellow of Queen Mary and Westfield College, London University, a Patron of the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen (also awarded an Hon DSc degree) and in 1994 was the recipient of the Prix de la Belgica Gold Medal of the Royal Academy in Belgium. Dr Drewry is a Fellow and former council member and Vice-President of the Royal Geographical Society and a former Vice President of the International Glaciological Society. Between 1987 and 1994 Dr Drewry was the Director of the British Antarctic Survey and from 1984-87 Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in the University of Cambridge. This is of particular resonance as far as Anglia is concerned, since in the School of Applied Sciences we have extensive collaboration through Dr Don Keiller with the British Antarctic Survey, including PhD students.

Dr Drewry has significant involvement in international science activities through European Science Foundation (member of Executive Council to 1997) and the European Union, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (1986-97) and the International Arctic Science Committee (elected President in 1997). He was founder Chairman of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes from 1989-92. Dr Drewry is a Trustee of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (Patron HRH the Princess Royal).

Prior to his present position, Dr Drewry was Director of Science and Technology and Deputy Chief Executive at the Natural Environment Research Council from 1994-97 and as such has been very prominent in national and international circles on policy issues generally.

Since 1998 Dr Drewry has been Director General of the British Council, assuming this position at a difficult period. The Council had undergone enormous upheaval as a result of the Thatcherite years, with massive financial reductions. Its changed role had brought it into some conflict with British higher education, as it sought to establish its own financial independence. International problems such as the economic slump in South East Asia have created consequent issues for universities' student recruitment and completions. The world in which British higher education operates overseas is highly competitive and we all rely heavily on the wisdom and support of organisations like the Council in meeting these challenges and brokering co-operation with our own national ministries. In these domains we see a welcome re-assertion of the Council's stature as a result of Dr Drewry's ministrations.

Anglia and its antecedents have a long and honourable history of co-operation with the Council, especially in the fields of education management and higher education development, including large projects in the Indian sub-continent and Far East, and world leadership programmes for university vice chancellors and presidents. We look forward to a further long period of co-operation with the Council under Dr Drewry's leadership.

It is therefore evident, Chancellor, that the combination of Dr Drewry's scientific endeavours, his stewardship of one of our co-operating organisations and his Cambridge connections make it very appropriate that you should confer an Honorary Doctorate of Science on Dr David Drewry."