University of Brighton vice-chancellor Debra Humphris is among those named in the King’s Birthday Honours list.

Professor Humphris will receive a CBE for services to higher education and the NHS after 45 years of public service.

She began her career as a nursing assistant in Chichester before working in the health service and later serving as vice-chancellor at Brighton University from 2015.

Prof Humphris said: “I am deeply humbled by this recognition of my 45 years of public service to the NHS and higher education.

“Alongside my family and my partner, there are so many colleagues and collaborators to thank for their impact on my career.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them all for their guidance and support.”

Prof Humphris’s honour acknowledges the major impact she has had, including her role as an openly LGBTQ+ senior leader who has been passionate about promoting equality and diversity for all at the university.

It also highlights her personal role as a member of the Universities UK board in shaping policy positions on key issues in the sector including the Teaching Excellence Framework, quality and standards, grade inflation and lifelong learning, as well as her position as director and chairwoman of the University Alliance.

Her achievements within the NHS led to her being named in 2018 as one of the 70 most influential nurses and midwives during the first 70 years of the health service.

Prof Humphris’s healthcare experience proved invaluable during the pandemic when her knowledge and leadership in the local community allowed her to help shape decisions in the city council’s Covid response, including enabling university staff and students to assume frontline roles such as paramedics, pharmacists, nurses, doctors and social workers.

Mark Burch, chairman of the university’s board of directors, said he was “delighted” that Prof Humphris’s contribution to higher education had been recognised in such a way,

He said: “The award of a CBE also reflects the wider influence she has had as a healthcare professional and her commitment and impact within the NHS over many years.”

The honour comes amid growing calls for Professor Humphris to stand down over the controversial decision to make 110 staff redundant.

Her office was recently occupied by university students in protest at the decision and to show solidarity with the staff facing redundancy.

Cuts to staff were made as part of a restructuring of the university’s workforce.

In an email to staff last month, Prof Humphris said: “We have already done everything we can to protect jobs wherever possible.

“However, we have reached the point where we must take difficult but necessary steps to change our staff base in certain areas.”

Among the other Sussex names in the list are founder of Kevin Byrne and Argus columnist and University of Sussex professor Ivor Gaber.