Honorary Doctorate awarded to Dame Heather Rabbatts

Dame Heather Rabbatts was the first ever female FA board member, and has been celebrated by the University of Westminster

The University of Westminster is proud to honour Dame Heather Rabbatts, whose stellar career covers law, politics, media and sport. Her wealth of experience across different sectors and disciplines is the embodiment of the university’s interdisciplinary culture.

Rabbatts, born in Kingston, Jamaica, was educated at the London School of Economics and at Westminster’s predecessor institution, the Polytechnic of Central London. In 1987 she moved into local government work at Hammersmith and Fulham, becoming the youngest local authority Chief Executive. Rabbatts went on to run the London Borough of Lambeth introducing a dynamic culture with new efforts in housing, education, and council tax collection, and was widely credited for establishing a fundamental and positive change in the organisation.

Rabbatts moved out of local government in 2000, joining Channel 4 as Head of Education in 2001, where she commissioned programmes and projects and introduced a range of talent development initiatives. One of Rabbatt’s most prominent roles was as Chair of Millwall F.C, a role she began in 2006 to oversee the restructure of the club, then going on to support regeneration in the area and seeing the club promoted to the Championship.

In 2011 she became Director of The Football Association, becoming the first woman to be appointed to the board, a position she held until this year. She served on The FA’s Remuneration Committee as an independent director, and chaired The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board.

Given the breadth and depth of her career contributions, and particularly her championing of women in business and sport, she is an important role model for our students.

Rabbatts has also held a number of non-executive roles, including a trustee at the Royal Opera House and the boards of Crossrail and the UK Film Council. She is now Managing Director of Cove Pictures, a TV production company. In 2016 she was awarded a DBE in the New Year Honours list for her services to football and equality. Westminster is proud to honour its alumna with an Honorary Doctorate to celebrate her distinguished career and advancement of women in sport.

Accepting her award, Dame Heather said: “It’s so great to see so many young people, and especially young women, who are benefitting from a fantastic education which enables them to enter the work arena and the next stage of adulthood with confidence, depth of knowledge, and creative thinking.”

Professor Malcolm Kirkup, Dean of the Westminster Business School at the University of Westminster, said: “We are delighted to honour Dame Rabbatts with this award, as she is an advocate of so much that we believe in. Given the breadth and depth of her career contributions, and particularly her championing of women in business and sport, she is an important role model for our students.’

Alongside Dame Heather Rabbatts, the University of Westminster also praised the achievements of other Honorary Doctorates who received their title at the summer graduation ceremonies. Honorary Graduates included:

  • Dame Liz Forgan, Journalist and Arts Fund Trustee, who was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters for her services to journalism and the arts.
  • Sir Richard Arnold QC, Lawyer, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law for his services to the legal profession and advancement of legal education.
  • Dr Mayer Hillman, Architect, who was made an Honorary Doctor of Science for his consistent work developing environmental considerations into public policy.   
  • Mr William Templeton, National Apprentice Development Manager at Network Rail, who has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship for his services to developing work-based education. 

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