After a whirlwind tour of Europe the week before, Tim Cook arrived in Scotland to receive his honorary degree from the University of Glasgow.
The degree was presented to Cook in Bute Hall, in front of over 800 students and staff. Free tickets to the event were sold out in less than an hour of their release on Eventbrite.
The ceremony was followed by a “Fireside Chat” with David Phelan, technology correspondent for The Independent, which focused on Cook’s pushes towards renewable energy and for equality.
When asked about his values, Cook told the audience he believed that “everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.” He also commented on President Trump’s executive order banning people from certain Islamic countries from travelling to the US, saying: “Our simple view is that Apple would not exist without immigration, so this is a huge issue for us”.
He continued to mention that there had been several cases of employees being affected at Apple, including grandparents who couldn’t enter the US to see the birth of their grandchild. He conclude: “We don’t support the immigration ban… We think it’s wrong.”
He also told the audience that he believed coding should be a mandatory subject in schools, commenting: “Kids today will never know a non-digital world and coding is great training for the mind. I’m not saying everyone should take up coding as a career, but everyone should know the possibility of coding.”
When he was questioned about the limits of blurring the lines between body and technology, such as the Apple watch does, he said he thought there was “no limit, but there are lines” – referring to privacy concerns. He did however say that the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitoring had alerted many people to heart issues. With regards to precision medicine, he said: “We’re in the very early days – the game hasn’t even really started yet – but Scotland is in a great place to get things moving. The motivation to help people here is pure, and is focused on innovation…”
Cook also mentioned his work in pushing apple towards using 100% renewable energy – Apple’s power is currently 93% from renewable sources.
After the ceremony, Cook tweeted that he was “humbled and honoured to become part of the @UofGlasgow community”, thanking “the faculty and students of this great university.” He said during the fireside talk that he considered the University of Glasgow “one of the finest universities in the world”.
Cook spent several days visiting business leaders in France and then Germany before flying to Glasgow to receive his honorary doctorate.
Cook has already received an honorary degree from George Washington University and has been made an honorary patron of Trinity College Dublin’s Philosophical Society.
This is the first honorary degree he has received from a university in the UK.
Stephen Brewster, Professor of Human Computer Interactions at Glasgow’s School of Computer Science proposed Cook for his honorary degree, saying that Dr Cook shared the University’s commitment to diversity. In his speech, he said: “Tim became CEO in 2011 and has led Apple to new heights, introducing some of the company’s most forward-thinking and successful new products. At the same time, he has given Apple a greater voice in matters of equality and human rights, environmental protection, and privacy.”