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Graduation Ceremony - November 2015

Janet L. Yellen, Hon LLD (Thursday, 19 November 2015 in Washington, D.C.)

Professor Sir Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, presented Janet L. Yellen (Chair of the US Federal Reserve System) with an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of Warwick. The event took place on the evening of Thursday 19th November in Washington’s Newseum.


Janet Yellen took office for a four-year term as Chair of the US Federal Reserve System's Board of Governors in 2014. Prior to this, she served as Vice-Chair for four years, and her term as a Board member will end in 2024.

After graduating from Brown University with a degree in Economics in 1967, Chair Yellen received a Doctorate in Economics from Yale University in 1971, before becoming an Assistant Professor at Harvard University, where she remained until 1976. From 1977 to 1978, she worked for the Board of Governors as an economist, before taking up an academic position at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) from 1978-80.

Chair Yellen is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley where she was the Eugene E and Catherine M Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics and has been a faculty member since 1980.

In 1994, she took leave from Berkeley for five years, serving as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System until 1997, when she left the Federal Reserve to become Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers until 1999. She also chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997 to 1999, and served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2004 to 2010.


"Good evening and a very warm welcome to this special University of Warwick 50th anniversary honorary degree ceremony. It is, of course, a particular pleasure to welcome our honorary graduand, the Chair of the US Federal Reserve System, Professor Janet Yellen.

Warwick is a university that strives to be an undisputed world leader in research and scholarship. We are consistently ranked at the top of global higher education league tables and we are known for our innovative and entrepreneurial approach, our academic excellence (typified by the award of a Fields medal this last year) and our ground-breaking international collaborations.

Two of our most significant international collaborations are based right here in the US. First of all, there is our partnership in The Center for Urban Science and Progress, or CUSP, in New York. CUSP is a unique public-private research center that uses New York City as its laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive and livable. Warwick is the only European institution engaging in partnership with universities like NYU, Carnegie-Mellon and Toronto.

Then, there are our plans to create a campus in Sacramento in California, with our partners, the Tsakopoulos family. I have no doubt that the characteristics that set Warwick apart will flourish in California; a state that embodies our energy, imagination and potential.

We have chosen to pursue these US-based ventures because we recognise the global renown of the US higher education system. Here in the US, people share the value that we place on excellence and on innovation. And we are no slouches at innovation ourselves.

So Warwick has consistently engaged with partners in government, business and industry to ensure that our world-leading research has real impact. A prime example is our new £120 million National Automotive Innovation Campus funded in partnership with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, government, Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Motors European Technical Centre. NAIC will provide a critical mass of international automotive research. Due to be completed by autumn 2017, the new Centre will be a unique resource where academic and industrial R&D teams will work together using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to develop breakthrough designs, technologies and processes.

Cooperation of this nature is of course not just important across sectors, but also across national boundaries. Warwick has a set of Global Research Priorities, or GRPs, which provide a focus for Warwick’s multidisciplinary research in key areas of international significance. From food security to sustainable cities, from energy to innovative manufacturing, the Global Research Priorities provide a platform from which Warwick can engage with key partners internationally to make a globally distinctive contribution. The newest of these GRPs, a Cyber Security Global Research Priority, was launched yesterday here in Washington and draws together all of our existing research strength in this area. It is just one part of our extraordinary capacity in big data which now takes in world-leading mathematics and statistics, computer science and social science. Our eminence in this area is illustrated by being a founder member, with Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and Edinburgh, of the new national Turing Centre in London for Big Data (where, by the way, our business school has just set up in the Shard).

Not surprisingly, during this, our fiftieth anniversary year, we are seeking to honour those individuals whom we feel share our values, who epitomise innovation and achievement, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their field. Most particularly, we want to acknowledge those who have engaged in public service.

Professor Janet Yellen is, without a doubt, a formidable public servant, in the very best sense of the word. She leads one of the US’s, and indeed one of the world’s, most important financial institutions. In her career, she has not only made an outstanding contribution to the development of US monetary policy and an effective US financial system, but also a truly significant contribution to the teaching of macroeconomics and the application of real-world economics to education. She really is an exemplar to academia and to students and we are truly honoured to be here today to confer Professor Yellen with the award of an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Here follows the obligatory biography!

Professor Yellen graduated from Brown University with a degree in economics in 1967 and then received her doctorate in economics from Yale University in 1971. From 1971 to 1976, she was an assistant professor at Harvard University before moving to work for the Board of Governors as an economist from 1977 to 1978. In 1978, she ventured over to England to take up an academic position at the LSE before returning to the US in 1980 to join the University of California at Berkeley. During her time there, she was the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics.

Professor Yellen continues to be an Emeritus professor of the University of California at Berkeley but she took leave from her full time post there in 1994 to serve as a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors. She undertook this role until February 1997 when she left to become chair of the Council of Economic Advisers through August 1999. She also chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997 to 1999. Janet also served as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as well as Vice Chair of the Feds’ Board of Governors.

In February 2014, she took office as Chair of the Fed’s Board of Governors for a four-year term which will end in January 2018: no doubt tonight she will tell us when US interest rates are going to rise: we promise to tell no one. Chair Yellen is also a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served as President of the Western Economic Association, as Vice President of the American Economic Association, and as a Fellow of the Yale Corporation. Professor Yellen has written on a wide variety of macroeconomic issues, while specializing in the causes, mechanisms, and implications of unemployment. She has received a number of academic honours during her career. These include the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale in 1997, and honorary doctorates from Brown, Bard College, LSE and Yale.

We are truly honoured that Professor Yellen has chosen to accept an honorary LLD from the University of Warwick in recognition of such a significant contribution to the field of economics and economic policy.

Without further ado, it is with great pleasure that, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Professor Janet Yellen."

This oration was given by Professor Sir Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick



Honorary Graduate Janet Yellen 2015