At its summer degree ceremonies in July, the University of Warwick awarded thirteen honorary degrees, including one to COINS’ co-founder, Larry Sullivan. The University awards honorary degrees to individuals of high intellectual or cultural distinction or those who have served the University or the community. Larry first visited Warwick Business School in 2012 to deliver a lecture about enterprise as a force for good and social improvement and has been doing so bi-annually ever since.
On the day more than 400 postgraduate students and PhD graduates from Warwick Business School (one of the largest departments in the University) received their degrees in front of family and friends. The students were congratulated by University of Warwick Chancellor Baroness Ashton and Warwick Business School Dean Andy Lockett. Baroness Ashton is the first female chancellor in Warwick’s history and evidently shares the same values as COINS, having demonstrated a strong commitment throughout her illustrious career to making the world a better place. In her oration, Warwick Business School Professor Deniz Ucbasaran commended Larry and the COINS Foundation he helped build for the work they have done to address social injustice, poverty and disability. In acceptance Larry began his speech by dedicating his degree to his parents – thanking them – and to his children and grandchildren, in the hope and expectation that it will inspire them to lead happy and fulfilling lives.
I have spoken at many business universities across the globe now. I shine a mirror on commitment, values and rigour and Deniz and Warwick have this in spades. I'm proud to be associated with them in helping to shape the next generation of business leaders to think about their social contribution too.Larry Sullivan
With their new degrees, these MBA students will now have more power and influence and so Larry set them an important challenge: to use their power, influence and wealth for social good. He went on to speak of the quarterly approach to business, and how in his view it drives the wrong behaviours, mortgaging our futures. He advocated a ‘values first, value second’ approach to build good and sustainable businesses.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.Martin Luther King
The majority of Larry’s acceptance speech was grounded in these values – and he went on to set challenges to both the institution and its students. In an age of growing inequality, the biggest challenge facing the world is the growing gap between the rich and the poor. It is in the enlightened self-interest of the wealthier groups to back social projects and social enterprise – with both money and acumen. Larry closed by commending the school for developing an entrepreneurial masters degree with values and ethics at its core.
A great speech by Larry. We, as a University, are up for the challenge set to target those who have amassed wealth and help them to put their excess to good use by investing in the next generation of business leaders who can use their power and influence for societal good; in doing so, helping them find meaning and purpose. We are very much looking forward to working closely with him to ensure ethics and values are at the core of our new MBA with entrepreneurship degree.Deniz Ucbasaran, Professor of Entrepreneurship WBS