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Honorary degrees for the fast and the quick

Fast legs will join quick minds when the University of Warwick confers honorary degrees on gold-medal winning sprinter Marlon Devonish and the former Vice Chancellor of Oxford University Colin Lucas.

Marlon Devonish will receive an Honorary MA. Sir Colin will become a Doctor of Laws.

In addition, a Chancellor's Medal will be awarded to Ian Caulfield CBE, for distinguished voluntary services to the University. Ian Caulfield was Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Council and a long-serving member of the University Council  - the University's governing body. This is the first year the Chancellor's Medal has been awarded.

Professor Colin Jones, of the University of Warwick's Department of History, said: "Sir Colin Lucas is a distinguished educational leader. He is also an internationally renowned scholar. Oxford and Cambridge are the international brand-leaders of British higher education. Were they to slip, all of us would suffer in the global esteem in which our universities are held. In this concrete way, we at Warwick - and our peers throughout British higher education - are in Sir Colin's debt."

David Moorcroft UK Athletics Chief Executive and Life Member of Coventry Godiva Harriers said: "Through dedication and hard work Marlon has achieved the dream of every athlete - an Olympic Gold medal. Marlon has been able to show just what can be achieved by children in this area and is now able to share his experience with them, hopefully helping to inspire the next generation of gold medal winning sprinters."

Marlon Devonish is a local athlete who has contributed a great deal to the city of Coventry. He is a member of the Coventry Godiva Harriers Athletic Club, and recently opened the extension to the university sports centre.

The ceremonies will take place on the 25 January 2006.


Further information for editors

Professional photography will be taken on the day. If picture-desks wish to send their own photographers they should contact the press officer, Richard Fern, at 07876 217740.

The citations are given below.

Marlon Devonish - Hon MA
To date, Marlon Devonish has had two major ambitions: to host a garage or house music concert in a large arena, and to win an Olympic gold medal. The first has yet to be realized: the second was achieved in the summer of 2004, in the Olympic stadium in Athens in front of 77,000 spectators and a television audience of billions, thanks to a winning margin of 1/100th of a second!

This gold medal was won by Marlon, as a member of the British 4 x 100 metres sprint squad, defeating what was considered to be an unbeatable American quartet. The British success was all the sweeter, as the British sprint team had dropped the baton at both the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2000 Sydney Olympics. An Olympic gold medal in this event had eluded a British team since 1912. Added to this was the disappointment of losing the silver medal in the World Championship final in 2003, following their disqualification as a result of Dwain Chambers, the anchor man of the team, failing a drug test.

Because of the Sydney Olympic failure, Britain only just qualified for the Athens event, having to run in the semi final in the least popular, inside lane, against five of the top teams in the world. Despite this, the team qualified for the final. The American team was the hot favourite to take gold. It had both the 100 and 200 metres sprint gold medallists and the winner of the 100 metres Olympic gold in Sydney.

On the evening of the final, Marlon entered the packed stadium and prepared for the most important few seconds of his life. He measured out the 28 steps to know where to mark the exact spot where he should start running as Darren Campbell, the second of the British quartet, approached. The hand over had to take place in a 20 metres zone, with Marlon reaching full speed within the first 10 metres. When Marlon received the baton, the British team was leading. Marlon remembers that he heard nothing of the deafening crowd noise. He was totally focused on handing on the baton to the final runner, Mark Lewis-Francis. The Brits were leading the Americans by 11/2 metres on the final take over, but the gap soon closed, as Lewis-Francis battled against Maurice Greene, the 100 metres champion.


Marlon's dream, born some twelve years earlier, of winning an Olympic Gold, was a life time away - measured in seconds. His reaction, as Lewis-Francis broke the imaginary winner's tape? "There was only one thing to do-? go ballistic!"

Marlon's Olympic dream was born whilst still a Coventry School boy, living in Binley. At the age of 16 he joined Coventry Godiva Harriers Athletic Club, based here at Westwood. By the end of his first season, he was in the top half of the national rankings for his age group. In 1994 he became the English Schools 200 metres champion and in 1995 the 100 metres champion and a double gold medallist at the European Junior Championships.
This early success, built primarily on natural talent, was only the beginning. The development of power and technique as a world class athlete has required years of structured and exhausting training.

Selection for the British athletics team first came in 1997 and since then, international success has followed. A gold medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay, in the European Cup in 1999 was followed, over the next four years, by a number of gold and silver medals in international competitions. His first truly world class gold medal was won at the World Indoor Championships, held in Birmingham in 2003. Marlon was now recognized as a genuine world class athlete.

The remainder of the 2003 season, however, did not prove so successful for Marlon. The ups and downs of his sport depend on hundredths of a second or a perfect baton change. But the best was yet to come. The 2004 Olympic stadium proved to be the stage for his greatest success, to date. Let us hope that further medal success is achieved in March in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Marlon's outstanding achievements have been widely recognized, including the award of an MBE in 2005. His days as a Caludon Castle school boy, who, despite debilitating hay fever, was mad about all sports, seem a life time away. He is now among the best of Britain's athletic champions of all time.

Sir Colin Lucas - Hon LLD
From 1997 to 2004, Sir Colin Lucas was Vice-Chancellor of Britain's most ancient university, Oxford. Such is that institution's international prominence and reputation that distinguished service to it invariably signifies distinguished service to the cause of higher education - indeed of education tout court - in British national life. In Sir Colin?s case that has certainly been the case.

Sir Colin Lucas is a distinguished educational leader. He is also an internationally renowned scholar, a historian of the French Revolution, who trained at Oxford and who has spent most of his career teaching, researching and administering there. After spells at the universities of Sheffield and Manchester early in his career, he returned to Oxford as Fellow of Balliol College in 1973. Following appointment to a prestigious chair at the University of Chicago in 1990, he crossed back across the Atlantic to become Master of Balliol in 1994, before being elected Oxford's Vice-Chancellor.
Terror and popular violence during the French Revolution have been at the centre of Sir Colin's historical interests. He is one of the most influential voices in current debates on the role of the French Revolution in shaping western culture. His 1973 monograph on the structure of the Terror in the French provinces is an acclaimed and enduring classic. His numerous contributions to the study of the French Revolution are keenly appreciated in this country, in the United States, and in France - in 1998 he was invested as Officier in the L'gion d'Honneur in recognition of his services to French history.

Sir Colin has described his French Revolutionary historical preoccupations as being shaped by a concern with democratic politics in situations of stress. This formulation constitutes an excellent description of the job description of an Oxford Vice-Chancellor. The latter has to endure vigilant scrutiny from a press (and sometimes a government) overly-exercised by the thought of bringing Oxford down a peg or two, nagging financial worries, anxiety about collective academic performance in Research Assessment Exercises, teaching quality assessments, institutional audits and the like, protesting students, vehement animal rights protesters, key issues of access, the articulate (yet rarely harmonious) vociferations of some eight thousand university employees - all the slings and arrows, indeed, of political democracy. The French Revolutionary politicians of the Terror in the 1790s had the benefit of the guillotine in bringing critics and opponents into line.

The Vice Chancellor of Oxford University has no such instrument of persuasion at his disposal. At least not yet. All he can deploy are reason, intelligence, humane values and a passionate commitment to teaching and scholarship. In Sir Colin Lucas's case, these were arms enough. In his words: "Universities aim to teach all students how to cope with complexity, how not to be misled by approximations and simple arguments, how to seek evidence and how to test it. Surely it does not matter what branch of knowledge a student pursues? Our function is to provide society with generations of creative and innovative, informed and alert, responsible citizens capable of identifying and defending the values and mechanisms of stable, civilised community amidst the challenges of competing interests."

This is a message which the graduates of this, and indeed of any, university will surely wish to heed.

In 2004, Sir Colin handed over the reins of governance with his university in good shape: its infrastructure enormously enlarged, its system of financial management radically altered, its administrative structures streamlined, its vital energies not only intact but also flowing freely and creatively. Sir Colin went on to new challenges: as Warden of Rhodes House in Oxford; to board membership of the British Library; to trusteeship of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; to a still-unfolding panoply of glittering posts in public life.

It came as no surprise that in 2005 the University whose affairs he had directed for seven years was ranked in the top five of the world's universities in a respected international league table. It really matters to universities such as Warwick that this was the case. Whether we like it or not, Oxford and Cambridge are the international brand-leaders of British higher education. Were they to slip, all of us would suffer in the global esteem in which our universities are held. In this concrete way, we at Warwick - and our peers throughout British higher education - are in Sir Colin's debt.

Ian Caulfield CBE - The Chancellor's Medal
The Chancellor's Medal, presented for the first time at this Winter Degree Congregation, recognises the contributions of those who have served the University in a voluntary capacity. It is awarded to an individual, external to the University, who has made a significant contribution to its work and development.

The first Chancellor's Medal is awarded to Ian Caulfield, former Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Council and a long-serving member of the University Council. Ian Caulfield served on Council - the executive governing body of the University - from 1987 until 2005. As a lay member of Council, he was part of a group drawn from the professions, business and industry, and the local authorities, who bring to the University a range of invaluable experience and professional expertise. He was a member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, and for some years chaired the Audit Committee. He was a member of Council at a time of great significance in Warwick's history: student numbers increased; the Graduate School was established; an ambitious programme of building and campus development was undertaken; the Medical School was created; and Warwick rose steadily up the league tables, becoming recognised as one of the UK's leading universities for teaching and research.

The University's first benefactors were Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council who, back in the 1960s, donated the land that became the Warwick campus. The University remains deeply committed to its local region, contributing economically, educationally, culturally and socially to local life. It is fitting, therefore, that the first recipient of the Chancellor?s Medal should have devoted the greater part of his professional life to the local community, as Chief Executive of Warwickshire County Council.

Educated at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys (where he had the distinction of being in the same class as Beatle Paul McCartney) and Manchester University, he held posts with Liverpool, Lancashire and Oxfordshire Councils before moving to Warwickshire as Assistant Executive in 1978. In 1986, he became Chief Executive, a post which he held until his retirement in 2005. He was also Clerk to the Warwick Lieutenancy, Clerk to the Warwickshire Police Authority and a member of the South Warwickshire Primary Care Trust Board. In 2000, he was awarded a CBE for services to local government and in 2004 Warwickshire was rated as one of the country?s top local authorities. Since his retirement last summer, Ian Caulfield has continued with his local commitments: he is a governor of Coventry University, Chairman of a Coventry based community development organisation (ContinYou) and was recently appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire.

The University of Warwick has been exceptionally well served by its lay members of Council. They have given generously of their expertise, experience and time, balancing their commitments to the University with their own professional lives. During his service to the University, Ian Caulfield has displayed all of these qualities and has shown outstanding dedication and support for the University's work. It is a great pleasure to award him the Chancellor's Medal.


For further information contact: Richard Fern, Press Officer,
Communications Office, University House
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 8UW
REF PR RWF 23 January 2006 024 7657 4255 email: