Former Operations Director for RNLI receives BU Honorary Doctorate

The former Operations Director for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has received an Honorary Doctorate from Bournemouth University.

Michael Vlasto OBE received the Doctor of Technology award during the graduation ceremony for students from the School of Design, Engineering and Computing.

Michael retired from the RNLI earlier this year, after 39 years’ service, and he is currently chairman of the International Maritime Rescue Federation, which unites the world’s maritime rescue organisations.

In 2005, he was appointed OBE for services to maritime search and rescue.

Michael said it was a “very pleasant surprise” to be awarded the Honorary Doctorate from BU.

“It feels a little bit spooky for a practical seafarer, because I went to sea with 9 O levels, got no A levels, no degree and I’ve not really spent much time at university so this is a very pleasant surprise.”

He added that he felt it was important that there is a good relationship between Bournemouth University and the RNLI, which has its headquarters in Poole.

Previous projects they have worked together on include BU academics giving RNLI staff lectures on marketing and fundraising, and researchers from the School of Design, Engineering and Computing helping improve the safety and efficiency of the RNLI’s slipway launch system.

Michael said: “The RNLI is part of the infrastructure of the local community and a lot of the young people coming here to study will obviously move on to other parts of the coast and hopefully show an interest in the RNLI wherever they may be.

“I’ve come from a practical world but the academic world certainly has its place and it’s getting the balance between the practical applications of things you learn in fine universities like this that brings it all together.”

More than 5,000 graduates from across Bournemouth University were handed their degree certificates in six different ceremonies at the Bournemouth International Centre.

Professor John Vinney, vice-chancellor of Bournemouth University, said: “Bournemouth University takes great pride in our Honorary Graduates.

“We recognise people who have excelled in their chosen field who will act as inspirational role models, both for our graduates and their families at the awards ceremonies and for our whole student body in the coming years.”

BU celebrates success during graduation week


Over 5,000 BU graduates celebrated this week as they were handed their degree certificates during six graduation ceremonies.

The ceremonies, which all took place at the Bournemouth International Centre, saw students collect their awards alongside eight honorary doctorates before celebrating with fellow graduates at a champagne reception.

Former students from all six Schools were reunited with former classmates and lecturers for the first time since completing their studies in May to celebrate the completion of their degrees together.

Receiving their awards alongside BU graduates; the eight honorary doctorates included golf professional and consultant Eddie Bullock, television presenter and anatomist Professor Alice Roberts and Olympic Gold medallist Peter Wilson MBE.

Also honoured were Paralympic Gold medallist Helena Lucas MBE, international sports performance coach David Alred MBE, former Director of Operations at the RNLI Michael Vlasto OBE, former Principal of the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) Dr Kenneth Vall and academic and 7/7 bombing survivor Professor John Tullock.

At the ceremony Professor Alice Roberts (pictured) said, “It’s an absolute delight and an honour to be receiving an honorary doctorate, and I’m really pleased to be here at Bournemouth University. I’ve made friends with a lot of Bournemouth University academics over the years and I’ve interviewed them for all sorts of different programmes on the BBC, and it was really nice to come here and catch up with those colleagues today. And to be here receiving my own doctorate is wonderful.”

Professor John Vinney, Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University, said, “I am delighted to be celebrating the success of our brilliant graduates once again. Graduation is one of the highlights of our university calendar and it fills me with pride to see so many students achieving their goal of attaining a degree. I hope that they will have long and successful careers and I know that they will continue to be valued members of the Bournemouth University community.”

The graduation ceremonies were also streamed online, where they were watched by around 5,500 viewers from 60 different counties.