Tuesday, July 31, 2001



General Sir John Stibbon who was the Chief Royal Engineer between 1993 and 1999  and Dr Keith Warren, former electronic engineer and technical director, have both been awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Greenwich.

General Stibbon received his degree at Rochester Cathedral and Dr Warren in the chapel of the Old Royal Naval College Chapel at Greenwich. Both joined ceremonial processions of academic staff and students and wore a formal gowns of blue and gold damask silk and a Tudor-style academic bonnets in gold silk.

Honorary degrees are made to individuals of distinction who have made a major contribution to the work of the university or who have earned prominence for activities associated more widely with education, business, culture, creative work or public service.

Dr Keith Warren's interest in electronic engineering started in a garden shed aged nine and stemmed from the availability of cheap ex-military electronic equipment. He continued this interest as an undergraduate and as a postgraduate at Woolwich Polytechnic, now the University of Greenwich.

After working for Marconi and then Phillips, first in Holland and then back in the UK, he headed the country's computer-controlled telephone exchange.  At Plessey, as Technical Director (Private Systems), he was responsible for the changeover from electro-mechanical systems to electronics.  He then became Technical Director of Plessey Group and Managing Director of Advanced Development & Research. Keith became Technical Director of the company that designed and manufactured the first practical small hand-held cellular phones and then joint founder of the company which created the software which provides protection on CDs and videos. 

Eulogist John Charles explains: "Keith had the vision to see that the future lay with digital communication and concluded that this would be the basis of his career."

His passion for electronics was complemented by a passion for speed and high speed vehicles. Having discovered that it was difficult to get his Ferrari serviced in Kent, he founded a company to sell and service Ferraris. This became the largest independent Ferrari sales and service company in the South-East.

Having been a student, he returned to the University of Greenwich as a governor and has been Chairman of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Alumni Association. As Chairman of the Court he steered the university through difficult times, both when the Vice-Chancellor was ill and the recruitment of a new Vice-Chancellor. He retired from the University court in September 2000 as the university’s longest-serving governor.

General Stibbon was educated at Portsmouth Southern Grammar School and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, before being commissioned into the Sappers - the Corps of Royal Engineers.  He then attended the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, where he graduated in Civil Engineering.

Sir John spent most of his early career soldiering in field, armoured and amphibious operations.  His time with armoured operations necessitated him developing some novel solutions to complex engineering problems.

In 1973 Sir John joined the General Staff of the Army.  He then held a variety of regimental posts and command appointments, and on his promotion to Major General in 1983, he became Commander of the Royal Military College of Science.  During this time he was responsible for the expansion of the college from 1500 to 5000 students from 30 nations.

In 1988 he attained the rank of General.  During his last five years of service he was Colonel Commandant of the Royal Pioneer Corps and the Royal Engineers.  His last post was as Master General of the Ordnance, where he was responsible for enacting government defence policy and directing the research, development and procurement of all land-based equipment and weapon systems for the three armed services.  In this role he controlled a ten-year budget of some £18bn.

In 1972  Sir John was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and in 1988 he was conferred as a  Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).


For further information:
Nick Davison
Public Relations Unit
020 8331 8092