Two stars from the world of football will receive honorary doctorates at next week’s University of Stirling graduation – in celebration of its recent designation as UK Sports University of the Year.
Alan Shearer CBE – the English Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer – and Shelley Kerr MBE – who, as manager, this year led the Scottish women’s team to their first FIFA World Cup – will be bestowed the prestigious recognition.
More than 1,400 students will receive degrees from the University of Stirling next Friday (November 22) – which comes a matter of weeks after Stirling was crowned UK Sports University of the Year 2020, complementing its existing status as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “I am delighted that we will honour two outstanding individuals from the world of football at our winter graduation ceremonies.
“Shelley Kerr MBE is a good friend of this University, having studied here and managed our Men’s First Team between 2014 and 2017 – an appointment that saw her celebrated as the first woman to manage a senior men’s team in Britain.
“We are pleased to see Shelley’s continued success at the helm of the Scottish Women’s National Team – whom she led to their first FIFA World Cup earlier this year. We look forward to celebrating Shelley’s outstanding contribution to women’s football.
“Alan Shearer CBE is a man who needs no introduction – a football great who competed at the highest level for almost two decades. After retiring from playing, Alan managed his former club Newcastle United and is today best-known for his punditry work, most notably his regular role on BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’.
“In recent years, the University has been proud to work alongside Alan in shining a light on the potential risks posed by heading in football, culminating in our experts playing a central role in the BBC documentary, ‘Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me’. We will recognise Alan’s outstanding contribution to football and dementia awareness.”
Shelley Kerr MBE will be celebrated at Stirling's Winter Graduation 2019
Shelley Kerr MBE
A former Scottish international footballer, Ms Kerr amassed 59 international caps during a trophy-laden career, which spanned more than two decades. She competed as a defender for Kilmarnock, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Hibs and Spartans – and won every domestic honour in Scotland.
Ms Kerr managed Spartans, Scotland under-19s and Arsenal Ladies, before taking over the reins at the University of Stirling Men’s First Team in 2014 – becoming the first woman in the UK to manage a senior men’s side. In that role, she enhanced the profile and success of the team and, during her time at Stirling, graduated from the University with an MSc Sport Management.
In 2017, Shelley was appointed manager of the Scotland Women’s National Team and, earlier this year, led them to their first FIFA World Cup. She also received an MBE in 2019.
Alan Shearer CBE has worked with the University of Stirling on their research into heading in football.
Alan Shearer CBE
An England and Newcastle United legend, Mr Shearer is renowned as one of the world’s best ever strikers. During his career, he also played for Southampton and Blackburn Rovers – and he continues to hold the record of being the English Premier League’s record goalscorer, with 260 goals.
Mr Shearer has set up the Alan Shearer Foundation to raise funds for people with disabilities in the north-east of England and has also supported the NSPCC, Sport Relief and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. He received an OBE in 2001 and a CBE in 2016.
Today, he is best-known for his regular slot on BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ and, in 2017, he fronted a documentary, ‘Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me’, investigating the risks posed by heading in football. Experts from the University of Stirling were at the centre of the documentary discussing their world-leading research found that heading in football causes instant changes to the brain.
Professor McCormac added: “Both Shelley and Alan embody this University’s ambition to ‘be the difference’ and are excellent role models for our graduands – I am proud that we will honour both at next week’s ceremonies. I extend my congratulations to all of our graduands and honorary graduands on their hard-earned accomplishments.”
Two ceremonies will take place at the University’s Gannochy National Tennis Centre on Friday 22 November – the first celebrating students graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport and Stirling Management School; and the second for those from the Faculties of Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.
Stirling has been Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence since 2008 and is The Times / Sunday Times Good University Guide’s UK Sports University of the Year 2020. It offers an unrivalled all-round environment for excellence in sport: education, research, participation, and performance.