Mr Whately, who was honoured during the postgraduate graduation ceremony on January 16, is considered a prized asset to the Kingston Drama Department by his students.
“Frank is a genuinely passionate and engaging teacher and will go above and beyond to help students”, third year, Kathryn Chin, and fellow Drama student Hannah Ledwith, agree that: “Frank is wonderful! His enthusiasm and devotion can make any complicated subject interesting.”
Vice-Chancellor Julius Weinberg said that he was “delighted that Frank Whately will be the first Honorary Fellow of the university. We introduced it when we realised we had no mechanism for publicly recognising some individual’s contribution.”
Mr Whately has shaped not just the university by creating its Drama degree, but Kingston itself with his successful 1982 campaign for a new theatre.
“I started the campaign, along with a student friend of mine, after the expensive local theatre refused my suggestion to introduce student concessions,” he said. “The university has invested a lot in The Rose, and it responds by creating jobs and offering cheap shows.”
The Rose’s design is based on an old Southbank theatre by the same name which was closed down when more popular theatres were built.
“It took 30 years for The Rose to be completed,” Mr Whately said, “I never would have guessed how successful it would be or the impact it would have.”
Mr Whately remains committed to his students and the theatre, and is currently writing a book about the history of The Rose while also holding auditions for his latest play, October’s Children.
“I will always be a teacher. Even when I’m directing, I’m teaching; I think the two are closely linked.”