Sunderland University honours businessmen for their contribution to the city

Chris Haley
Chris Haley
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TWO Sunderland-born businessmen have been recognised for their contribution to Wearside.

Chris Haley, President of Vantec World Transport USA Inc, and SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson have been honoured at Sunderland University’s graduation ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.

SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson receives an honorary fellowship from the University of Sunderland.

SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson receives an honorary fellowship from the University of Sunderland.

Chris Haley was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, while Gary Hutchinson received an Honorary Fellowship. After beginning his working life at Dewhirst in Sunderland, Chris Haley moved on to Claremont Garments, and at age 27 was appointed their youngest ever factory manager.

He was headhunted by his former employer, and by the age of 31 was responsible for seven Dewhirst factories and more 2,500 employees.

In 2000 Chris joined Autrans Europe as operations director, supplying warehousing services to Nissan UK. From an employee base of 136 he restructured the management company, increasing sales eightfold, and turned the company into one of the largest employers in Sunderland, with more than 1,200 employees.

Under his leadership, Autrans’ parent company Vantec made its largest investment outside Japan in Sunderland, and in 2011 he was appointed the first non-Japanese President and CEO of Vantec World Transport USA. Under his leadership the firm has increased its workforce from 30 to more than 200, and by 2015 is expect to grow to top and 600 employees, with further expansion planned in Mexico and Brazil.

Gary Hutchinson has been instrumental in the development of the city, through his work with the Sunderland Business Group, and has established the Stadium of Light as a large-scale concert venue which has hosted some of the world’s biggest stars including One Direction, Rihanna, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen.

“It was a great honour to be awarded the fellowship,” he said.

“I am very proud to come from Sunderland and for me to receive such a prestigious accolade from my hometown has been a truly memorable experience and a proud day for myself and my family.”

It was Gary who first persuaded the university to hold its graduation ceremonies at the stadium. More than 35,000 students have received academic awards at the stadium in the last ten years and university and football club have worked together on a number of projects.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Fidler says: “Our honoraries have all made highly significant contributions within their fields and will inspire our graduates as they celebrate their academic success and embark on their careers.

“We are proud to pay tribute to them.”

l WASHINGTON-born singer Bryan Ferry was made an honorary Doctor of Music by Newcastle University.

The 69-year-old graduated in Fine Art from the university in 1968, and four years later Roxy Music emerged as one of the leading acts of the 1970s.

Ferry also won acclaim as a solo singer.

Before the ceremony, he said: “I feel honoured to have been awarded this doctorate from my former university.

“I enjoyed my time at Newcastle, and was fortunate to study with some great teachers and fellow students.

“It was an inspiring time to be an art student in Newcastle, and the city also had an exciting music scene. Music and art have guided my life, and it all started at Newcastle University.”