Controller of the Royal Navy receives honour
(5 July 2011)
The Controller of the Royal Navy has been awarded an honorary degree by Durham University in recognition of outstanding public service.
Rear Admiral Amjad Mazhar Hussain is one of the highest ranking naval officers in the UK, and was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2011 New Year Honours for his service.
Amjad Hussain grew up in a village in Pakistan and came to England when he was five years old. In 1976, he received a very competitive Navy scholarship to go to a university of his choosing and then into the Royal Navy. Hussain chose Durham as his university and he graduated with a degree in Engineering and Business Studies in 1979 as a member of Collingwood College.
Initially intending to only stay in the Royal Navy for a few years, Admiral Hussain's career now spans 34 years and has involved various operational roles at sea as well as strategic planning roles at Whitehall, the procurement of weapons and managing the support of the fleet.
Admiral Hussain previously commanded Portsmouth Naval Base, where he was responsible for a staff of 3,500 and a base of 20,000. He has described it as 'running a large company, a small city and a major port simultaneously'.
His background and origin make him particularly unusual as the highest ranking ethnic minority officer in the Armed Forces and with the Muslim Power 100 List placing him amongst the most influential Muslims in the UK.
Hussain has been described by friends and colleagues as unconventional and he himself says he doesn't look or sound like an Admiral. He believes nobody should limit their ambitions because they think parts of society or walks of life are closed to them.
Admiral Hussain, who is married to fellow Durham graduate, Wendy, and has three children, said: "I never dreamt that Durham would honour me in this way. My wife and I met here and some of our closest friendships and fondest memories have their roots here.
"Durham students are recognised as amongst the best in the world and I am proud to have been one of them."
Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: "Durham University offers its students a unique experience combining a first-class education, delivered by some of the world's leading academics, with the personal and social development programmes offered by our colleges. Such an experience differentiates Durham from all other universities, and we refer to it as the 'Durham difference'.
"Our honorary degree recipients are a great example of this difference and we are privileged to honour their hard work, talent and success. I am sure Admiral Hussain will prove inspirational to our graduates as they set out on achieving their own goals and ambitions."
Admiral Hussain received an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Durham University Chancellor Bill Bryson in a ceremony at Durham Cathedral.