The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, has been awarded an honorary degree by Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST).
Sir Jim was made an Honorary Doctor of Engineering honoris causa in recognition of his significant contributions to society at a special online ceremony.
A three-time graduate of Strathclyde, having taken his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in the area of electrical engineering, power systems and energy economics, Sir Jim worked in the electrical utility sector for seven years before returning to Strathclyde in 1984 as a University Grants Commission New Blood Lecturer in Electrical Engineering.
He was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993 and became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Strathclyde in March 2009.
In the citation read during the ceremony, HKUST President, Professor Nancy Ip, said: “An accomplished engineer and visionary educational leader, Sir Jim’s tremendous contributions towards building a better and sustainable future have earned him numerous distinguished recognitions and awards.
“As academic-industry collaboration was still quite rare in the 1990s, Sir Jim was uniquely placed to develop and lead Strathclyde’s research and commercialisation portfolio by demonstrating how curiosity-based and user-focused research could provide a catalyst for positive change. Sir Jim was also pivotal in commercialising university research across multiple fields such as energy, renewable energy and AI.
“Sir Jim’s specialist expertise in synergising academia and industry also made him an ideal collaborator for HKUST.”
Sir Jim said: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to HKUST for bestowing this honorary degree on me. This is both a great personal and professional privilege for me and one that I hope will strengthen the relationship between HKUST and the University of Strathclyde.
“I have enormous admiration for HKUST, its ambitious leadership, its academic excellence and the quality and impact of the institution on society and the economy at large, both locally and internationally.
In just over 30 years since its establishment HKUST has grown to become one of the world’s finest universities of science and technology. This is a great achievement indeed, and our two institutions share similar strategic DNA, because Strathclyde is an international technological university that is also socially progressive.
Strathclyde has had a strong association with HKUST for the last 30 years since former Deputy Principal David Tedford became one of its founding University Council Members in 1991.
The relationship has grown and strengthened over the years under the leadership of Sir Jim with a recently-signed Collaborative Research Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding, in addition to a number of joint initiatives including joint Master’s Degree programmes and PhD studentships.
In October 2019, Sir Jim was elected President of RAEng, becoming the first Scottish holder of the office. In The Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List in 2012, he was awarded a Knighthood for services to education, engineering and the economy.
Sir Jim is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology; he co-chairs, with the First Minister, the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board; and he is chair of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics, the Energy Institute, an Honorary Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering and a Foreign Fellow of the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering. Most recently, he was inducted as an International Member of the US National Academy of Engineering.
Sir Jim currently holds several senior non-executive business appointments on the Boards of ScottishPower, the Weir Group and the UK National Physical Laboratory. He also chairs two of the pan-Scotland university research pools in Energy and Engineering.