Professor Catrin Thomas has been awarded the Connop Thirlwell Fellowship for her outstanding and distinguished leadership at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Professor Thomas is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for the University’s academic development, who has served the University and its predecessor institution, Trinity College Carmarthen, for over 30 years.
Educated at Gwendraeth Grammar School and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Carmarthen, Professor Thomas completed her undergraduate degree in Mathematics at Exeter University. She then studied for a doctorate in Fluid Dynamics at Swansea University followed by a year’s post-doctoral research contract sponsored by Rolls Royce. She started her teaching career as a teacher of Mathematics in Olchfa School, Swansea. She was appointed to a Mathematics lectureship post at West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education in 1986 and joined Trinity College in 1989. She has held senior academic positions as Head of Mathematics, Registrar, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
In presenting the award Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The Fellowship is established as a life fellowship, and only one individual will ever hold that fellowship. It is established in the traditions of Trinity College in the name of Connop Thirwell, the Bishop of St Davids who created this college in 1848. It is offered to worthy men and women that have, over the years, made a distinctive contribution either to the life of university or to Wales in general.
“This year, after more than 30 years of service, Professor Catrin Thomas will retire. She is an individual who has, over the years, clearly demonstrated her outstanding and distinguished leadership across the institution.
“Universities are made by people; they are made by the collective power and by the collective leadership of individuals coming together with a common cause and a common purpose. I have been extremely fortunate as Vice-Chancellor in having Professor Catrin Thomas as one of my senior deputies and, indeed I have previously stated on the public record, what has been achieved in the context of the transformation of this University is owed to the partnership work of so many individuals. I acknowledge with great gratitude the work that she has undertaken as a leader. She is an individual who has, over 30 years, articulated a very clear strategy to secure the future of the institution.
“As we now celebrate her contribution and her work, it is therefore my great pleasure and honour on behalf of University to acknowledge her contribution and to bestow upon her the fellowship of the college, a life fellowship in the name of Connop Thirwell”.
In her response to the degree convocation, Professor Thomas urged students to stand up for their beliefs and their rights. She encouraged them not to take life for granted and spoke of her own experience of having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) some years ago.
She said: “My advice to you is to challenge and fight for your beliefs and to stand up for your rights and for those of others. There really has never been a time when that has been more important. Never take anything for granted as life can change completely and unexpectedly in an instant, as it did for me when I discovered that I had MS. It’s really important to make the most of every day and to look at life as a cup half full rather than a cup half empty. Good luck to every one of you that is graduating here today. Make the most of every opportunity that you get. Many congratulations to you all”.