David Ord

Doctor of Laws

Friday 17 July 2015 at 4pm - Orator: Andy Nield

Mr Vice-Chancellor

The role of a member of Council and Chair of Finance Committee may, as with many of our formally termed positions, be somewhat opaque to our students – and perhaps, indeed to some of our staff. Universities are, of course, formed by academics who teach and carry out research and professional services staff who support them. However universities have long been reliant as well on a small number of unpaid, expert members, who work diligently, advise wisely and provide another level of accountability to the institution. David Ord is such an individual. 

To begin, I will outline the background to David’s life and career.

David was born and brought up in North Yorkshire, and he attended St Peter’s School in York as a boarder from the age of nine. After leaving school he read Economics at University College London.

After university, David joined the family ship broking business in Teesside. He then moved on to create a new and successful business in the same sector which was ultimately sold in 1986.

David then took a somewhat delayed ‘gap’ year and studied at the London Business School on the Sloan Fellowship Programme. After completion of his studies, he continued to base himself in London where, on a freelance basis, he worked on a series of projects including ventures with Peter de Savary.

In 1991, with his business partner Terence Mordaunt, he made a successful bid to acquire the Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Dock from the City of Bristol Council.

In 1991 the Port was relatively small and handled around 4 million tonnes of shipping a year, and making substantial losses, which were born by the ratepayers. At the time of the acquisition a local MP said publically that ‘Christmas had come and the City Council should bite the hand off from the bidders’.

Over the last 20 years the Port has been transformed with over £400m of investments and now handles around 12 million tonnes of shipping a year and has over 500 employees. The Port is a very important part of the local economy with around 10,000 dependent jobs. The transformation of the Port demonstrates what a combination of determination and vision can achieve.

During the period 2003 – 2008 David was also the Non-Executive Chairman of the MITIE Group PLC.   

We now turn to the very significant contribution that David has made to the University of Bristol.

David became a member of the University’s Council in January 2005 and served as a Council member up until December 2013. For the majority of that period from 1 January 2007, he held the role of Chair of the Finance Committee.

This role is non-executive in nature but represents a vital part of the governance and advisory structure of the University.

I joined the University as Finance Director in late 2008 and immediately found David very supportive and a great sounding board as we worked our way forward.

During this period from 2008, the University successfully navigated an unprecedented level of financial change and challenge including:

These challenges meant that the University had to make very tough decisions, whilst at the same time holding its nerve and continuing to implement a major capital investment programme including flagship projects such as the new Life Sciences Building and the complete refurbishment of the Richmond Building (otherwise known as the home of the Students’ Union).

David’s advice and input to Council during this time were crucial. David was always able to retain a sense of perspective and humour which are vital attributes when working through complex and challenging issues.

I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank David for all his guidance and support to me, as Finance Director, through this period.

David is married to Kay and lives locally in Wraxall. Kay is American and this link has been maintained with a second home in Arizona. David has two sons Andrew and Jonathan. I am very pleased that Kay, Andrew and Jonathan are able to be with us today.

David’s other interests include being a member of the Bristol-based Society of Merchant Venturers together with prominent roles with the Conservative Party. This includes being a trustee of the Conservative Party Archives which are based at the renowned Bodleian Library in Oxford.

It is entirely appropriate that, on occasion, the University should honour someone who has contributed specifically and significantly to its own mission and governance. We are proud to be able to do that today.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I present to you David Ord as eminently worthy of the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.

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