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Professor Michael Thorne CBE

Prof Michael Thorne

Areas of Interest

Music, Education

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Music


Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for Professor Michael Thorne CBE for the award of Honorary Doctor of Music.

Mike Thorne is an academic, musician and conductor, passionate Wagnerian, and former Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University.

Some people may say that mathematics is pure logic, and music pure emotion – yet the possibility of connections between the two has fuelled endless academic debate. Mike Thorne’s achievements in both fields provide compelling evidence that this theoretical connection is real.

With a first-class degree in Mathematics from the University of London, and a PhD in Computational Group Theory from the University of Birmingham, Mike’s mathematical abilities are unquestioned. And his musical gifts are equally impressive – he is a talented bassoonist and a highly respected conductor.

Mike began his career in academia at University College London in 1978. In 1979 he was recruited by Cardiff University, where he was to spend the next decade. And in 1989 he made his move into management at Sunderland University, where he served as Pro Vice Chancellor. In 1998 he was appointed Vice Principal of Napier University in Edinburgh. And in 2001 Mike was appointed Vice Chancellor at the University of East London, where he furthered his reputation as an inspiring leader.

Mike came to Anglia Ruskin as Vice Chancellor in 2007, and his impact was both immediate and long-lasting. Demonstrating remarkable drive and energy, he led our University into a period of unprecedented growth in student numbers – across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and also in the number of research students.

Research was at the very top of his agenda – Mike felt passionately that if our University was to be recognised internationally, then progress must be built on a foundation of world-leading research. Anglia Ruskin subsequently grew the number of doctorates on the staff, and doubled the number of world-leading REF entries.

Mike was equally passionate about promoting teamwork and institutional pride at Anglia Ruskin, and he was instrumental in creating a positive, upbeat approach to achieving goals and overcoming challenges. For concrete evidence of his achievements, we only have to look to Anglia Ruskin’s Innovation Centre for Medical and Advanced Engineering, and the Postgraduate Medical Institute, which laid the foundations for our new School of Medicine.

In parallel with his academic career, Mike has been an active musician and conductor.

In the 1980s he conducted the Cardiff Chamber Orchestra and the City of Cardiff Symphony Orchestra. In the 1990s he conducted the New Tyneside Orchestra and the Tynedale Symphony Orchestra. Each year from 2001 to 2013, he conducted a Wagner opera with the Edinburgh Players Opera Group, including two complete Ring Cycles.

During his academic career, Mike served with distinction on the boards and advisory panels of many educational organisations. He was a member of the Scottish Education Funding Council, non-executive director of Scottish Universities for Industry programme, and Chair of the Open Learning Foundation.

He has also written, co-authored and edited a great many books and academic papers, and been a shrewd contributor on numerous TV and radio programmes.

In 2016, in recognition of his services to education, Mike was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Mike Thorne is a celebrated mathematician, musician, and a visionary academic leader with long-standing links to our University. He will be an inspirational role model for our students.

We are delighted to welcome back Mike Thorne to our Anglia Ruskin community.

Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Professor Michael Thorne CBE for the award of Doctor of Music, honoris causa.