‘It’s a wonderful success story.’ Graduates celebrate academic success, friendships and growth of Northeastern’s London campus

Graduates pose for a picture.
Photo by Carmen Valino for Northeastern University

LONDON — Rain pelted the windows of Milton Court, a modern glass-fronted concert hall, as graduates gathered for Northeastern University London’s undergraduate graduation ceremony. 

But the gray skies didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of a cohort who had already experienced unpredictable weather of a different sort and emerged triumphant.

Student speaker Liberty Collard, a graduate from Oldham, Greater Manchester, remarked on the “unconventional journey” this particular group had taken to reach graduation.

A large crowd poses for a picture at Northeastern London's commencement ceremony.
Photo by Carmen Valino for Northeastern University

“Our cohort has had a particularly challenging three years, making me even prouder of everyone here graduating today,” she said. “The sacrifices so many here made during the pandemic to be able to graduate today cannot be underestimated and should be recognized amongst our celebrations.”

Opening the ceremony, British philosopher and Northeastern professor A.C. Grayling said the 90 graduates have seen the university’s London campus grow around them.

“You have a degree from a world-class institution,” he said. “That really is something.”

Grayling noted that New College of the Humanities opened 11 years ago with 50 students. In 2019, NCH merged with Northeastern. And last July, Northeastern became the first U.S.-based institution of higher learning to be granted “university title” in England.

“Next week, more than 1,000 undergraduates will be coming through our doors,” Grayling told the graduates. “It’s a wonderful success story. And you have lived through that. You’ve lived through the growth that has led to it.”

Scott Wildman, dean of Northeastern’s London campus, echoed Grayling’s remarks, describing the graduating cohort as “extremely resilient.” He read each graduate’s name aloud as they received their degree scrolls to multiple rounds of applause.

Also receiving degrees were the first 10 Northeastern Multiverse apprenticeship students. Multiverse is a tech startup offering an Advanced Data Fellowship with a curriculum approved by Northeastern.

Glyn Webster, who graduated with degrees in English and art history, said he thoroughly enjoyed his Northeastern London experience.

It’s a wonderful success story. And you have lived through that. You’ve lived through the growth that has led to it.

A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and a professor at Northeastern

“The pandemic was tricky obviously, but our lectures started up again in person relatively quickly,” he said. “The best thing has been the relationships with my faculty. The one-to-one tutorials and getting to know the lecturers.”

Hannah Maier-Peveling, a graduate from Germany, earned degrees in economics, politics and international relations. Like her fellow classmates, she moved with the university from its former location in Bloomsbury to St. Katherine’s Dock.

“The new campus is good and has good study spaces,” she said. “ But I’ve enjoyed the relationship with the faculty most of all.”

It should be no surprise, then, that the biggest applause and shouts were reserved for the faculty members who had been awarded Faculty Recognition Prizes for their “outstanding contributions and demonstrated teaching excellence.”  

Faculty prize winners were David Mitchell, associate professor of philosophy; Kate Grandjouan, associate professor of art history; Balgiisa Ahmed, assistant professor of law; Lauren Adams, assistant professor of bioscience; Callum Barrell, associate professor of politics and international relations; and Rebecca Maccabe, associate professor of business and education.

Wildman was also cheered loudly when he mentioned that Northeastern London is set to appear on prime-time television as a team on the BBC’s academic quiz show, University Challenge, set to air in October.

Resilience and community were the consistent themes throughout the ceremony. 

“I feel extremely lucky to have found a university with not only academic excellence, but with community at its core,” Collard said in her address. 

As the graduates streamed out of the concert hall, clutching their scrolls, the sun came out to warm the rainwashed streets.

“This cohort was not going to let the pandemic ruin their university experience,” Collard said. “We certainly made up for lost time.”