The founder of an award-winning access programme based at Goldsmiths, University of London received his OBE from the Duke of Cambridge at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday 12 May.
Joe Baden, a Goldsmiths History graduate and founder and director of Open Book, was named Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2017 for his services to higher education.
Since 2004 Open Book at Goldsmiths has been working to break down the barriers that discourage people from entering higher education. The project encourages students to value and reflect on their own life experiences to offer new dimensions to the academic and policy perspectives offered by their courses. Open Book staff work with individual students to find the right solution for them.
Open Book won the Guardian University Award for student diversity in 2016 and has already helped hundreds of students to learn, gain qualifications and build careers including as writers, artists, academics, and teachers.
Joe Baden said: “It's been a long journey for all of us at Goldsmiths Open Book, but this award is testament to all of the hard work and commitment of everyone at the project and Goldsmiths, my alma mater and spiritual home. It means, that we are winning the battle, that people are finally recognising us, working class people, as being the real experts in our own lives. Slowly, we are creating acceptance, that the term ‘hard to reach’ is a myth and that you don’t have to abandon your own culture to survive, or as Goldsmiths Open Book is proving, make a difference in HE.
“On a personal level, it means a massive amount. It is acknowledgment of the love, dedication and patience of my mum, who brought me and my sister up alone from a young age, after our dad passed away; the very first thing I thought when I was informed, was how proud she would be.
“It is a tribute to my wife Sharon, who gave my life purpose and took me from a cell, mental home and chronic addiction to become a worthwhile human being. And, most of all, it is proof of the therapeutic and life changing power of education.
“The OBE will, I'm sure, contribute to what we achieve in the future, it tells the World we are not only trusted and reliable, but that we are effective to an extraordinary extent and we will use it to further a cause that we believe in, perhaps more passionately than any others: that education for all, is the bedrock of all progress, societal and personal.”
Double celebration: Manisha Tailor collects MBE
At the same ceremony on 12 May Goldsmiths alumna Manisha Tailor, football coach and founder of Swaggarlicious, collected her MBE from the Duke of Cambridge.
Manisha, a Goldsmiths Education graduate, was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year 2017 Honours List for her services to football and diversity in sport.