Author Nick Hornby has received an Honorary Doctorate at Kingston University's graduations ceremony in recognition of his contribution to "literature and reading pleasure".
Hornby, an alumnus of Kingston University, was involved in its inaugural Big Read scheme, a shared reading initiative encouraging students and staff to feel a sense of community whatever their role, discipline or geographic location. His coming-of-age novel About a Boy (Penguin) was selected as the first university-wide book club read and he visited Kingston University during its 2015 ‘Welcome Week’ as part of a host events planned to discuss the book.
The scheme, run across Kingston University's five campuses, was the outcome of a research project conducted by staff and students, revealing first-year students who took part in such reading schemes were "more likely to settle in" and, ultimately, were "less likely to drop out". Other benefits cited were increased motivation, organisational skills and empathy. At the time, Hornby commented: "Everyone reading the same book creates a common bond where one might not have existed, or certainly not so quickly.”
Professor Alison Baverstock, also director of the KU Big Read, presented Hornby with the award on Wednesday (18th January). She said: “Although he is a graduate of the university (having completed his PGCE there) he was particularly celebrated as the author of the very first Kingston University Big Read, a scheme that sees the despatch of a book to every student about to start at Kingston, and is available to staff as well.
"The project has had a significant impact, with students reporting that they felt ‘welcomed’ and ‘expected’ by ‘their’ university and appreciating receiving a ‘present’. Staff and students have discussed the book widely, with each other and with family and friends. The 2017 choice is currently being made, with the shortlist to be announced at the end of January."