Construction industry trailblazers to receive honorary doctorates

23 June 2022

Two leading figures in the Midlands’ property and construction sector - Anthony McCourt and Ann Bentley – are to receive honorary doctorates from Birmingham City University for outstanding contributions to the industry.

High profile property developer, Anthony McCourt, whose company Court Collaboration is behind several of the city’s biggest developments including One Eastside - the city’s tallest and first 51 storey residential skyscraper - will receive the honorary doctorate at ceremony on Thursday 14 July, to be held in Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

McCourt will receive the award from Birmingham City University’s School of Engineering and the Built Environment in recognition of his achievements in real estate development.

The following day, on Friday 15 July, former Global Chair of Rider Levett Bucknall, Ann Bentley, will also receive an honorary doctorate. A Visiting Professor in Construction at the University, with an impressive career spanning 40 years, she receives the award in recognition of her longstanding service to the built environment, and exceptional service to the University.

Court Collaboration founder and CEO, Anthony McCourt (pictured), said: “I am delighted to receive this Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University for my contributions to real estate. Birmingham has embraced me with open arms since I arrived here 21 years ago, just like it has with other migrants to the city, and it’s thrilling to receive this in the year when the eyes of the world descend on us for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“It is a massive testament to the team at Court Collaboration that we have we grown with our great city, and we remain dedicated to pushing it forward each day.”

The former real estate solicitor’s first major experience in development was at Birmingham’s mixed-use landmark, The Cube. Since then, he has gone on to develop some of the city’s largest regeneration projects including One Eastside - home to the planned HS2 hub station on Birmingham’s Curzon Street.

Recognised as a leading expert in residential development across the UK, he also founded Birmingham Metropolitan College’s successful Enterprise Academy which provides students with hands on business experience during their studies.

“It’s an incredible honour to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University,” said Ann Bentley.

“Birmingham has been my home for the last 35 years and I have watched the city, and the University, grow in stature and confidence. At Rider Levett Bucknall I have had the pleasure of working with Birmingham City University (BCU) on academic and pastoral projects and I am always impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff and students.

“Over the last few years, I have been working on cross-industry initiatives which make a positive change to how the industry operates and how it is perceived. This Honorary Doctorate is fabulous recognition of this work, and I would like to thank BCU for recognising me in this way.”

Ann, who is a board member at Rider Levett Bucknall and Visiting Professor at several UK universities, began her career as a civil engineer for British Rail in 1982 – moving to Birmingham in the mid 1980s. She has gone on to make significant positive changes in the construction industry and pave the way for a diverse and socially mobile workforce. This includes her work as one of the founders of Birmingham City University’s David Bucknall Scholarship – a financial award made to Birmingham-based property and construction students from under-privileged backgrounds.

Nationally recognised for her expertise in regeneration and collaborative working, the chartered engineer sits on several coveted construction industry boards and is a member of the UK Government’s Construction Leadership Council (CLC). She also sat on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Independent Expert Advisory Panel on building safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

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