Professor Jean Frechet is an innovative chemist who has used his skills to address some of the biggest challenges facing us in this century. Even though we are not all chemists we are all aware of polymers in our everyday lives from plastic bags to paints and adhesives. However, we might not all be aware that polymers, or large molecules, are used in many, if not most, advances in energy, communications and healthcare. For example, virtually all functions of a modern computer rely on advances in polymer chemistry from the display, the lithography to make components smaller and smaller, the battery to prolong lifetime and the dramatic increases in flash memory size. From his early work in Ottawa to his most recent studies in polymers for therapeutics at Berkeley and KAUST, salient features of his work in the field of functional polymers have been its innovative nature and great breadth, spanning fundamental studies, the search for properties, and the exploration of applications.
Jean has plied his chemistry in the area of chemically amplified resist materials which are ubiquitous in the microelectronics industry today and has greatly contributed to the miniaturization and exponential increase in power of computer chips also found in our cellphones, cars, etc. His invention made in 1979 while collaborating with IBM was based on the realization that a totally new generation of materials would be needed to sustain the advances of a fast moving industry.
Shortly after joining Cornell University in 1987 Professor Frechet started to explore ways to access macromolecules with a structural precision hitherto found only in natural polymers, such as proteins, with the aim to uncover novel structure-property relationships. He has been involved in seminal work with a totally new approach to macromolecular architecture – dendrimers or highly branched symmetrical tree shaped polymers. These are now used in diverse applications including rheology modifiers, catalytic nanoreactors, light harvesting antennae, and multivalent drug delivery systems.
Profesor Frechet has been pioneering polymers for targeted therapeutic applications. A large number of new therapeutics cannot be used efficiently due to issues of bioavailability, toxicity, deleterious side-effects, etc. A solution to this problem involves the development of carrier macromolecules that may be targeted to a specific organ or tissue and only release their payload once they have reached their target. The effectiveness of the polymer-drug conjugates developed in Fréchet’s laboratories has now been demonstrated in animals for both murine and human colon carcinoma with complete cure being achieved with drugs, which, on their own, have shown little or no efficacy.
In addition to his continual pursuit of the right material for the right application Professor Frechet is an inspiring mentor and teacher. His ability to explain complex chemistry to all is a joy to witness. In summary, Jean Frechet is one of the preeminent scientists of our time. He has published over 900 papers and patents, his work has received over 50,000 citations, and for those really interested in numbers and statistics his h-index is at an astonishing 118. He has also been involved in starting nine companies, several of which are now public and has been active in three Venture Capital Funds. He has profoundly influenced multiple aspects of materials science and its applications through his academic work and the start-up companies he has co-founded. He has currently moved to Saudi Arabia as the Vice-President for Research of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology where he is helping to establish KAUST as a world leading University.
This oration was written by Professor Robert MacKay, Department of Mathematics.
Steve Heighway was described in 1970 by one of Britain’s most successful and celebrated football mangers, Bob Paisley, as the best amateur footballer he had ever seen. In Paisley’s own words, “He almost took my breath away because he had ‘star’ written all over him.” Over the next 10 years, Steve graced the football fields across Europe as a regular member of Liverpool Football Club.
His arrival at Liverpool was far from orthodox, even by modern standards, and to this day his unique approach to the game of football has inspired generations of young footballers, but often brought him into conflict with the football authorities and the media.
Steve was born in Dublin in a vintage year that neither he nor I will share at this time! However, his early education was to be in the North of England, initially in Sheffield, moving later to Moseley Grammar School in Stockport. Despite rugby dominating the curriculum, his passion for football was not lost and eventually he gained international honours representing English Schools. Despite this success at the game, his talent and potential was not recognised by managers in the higher echelons of football and a University education beckoned. The University of Warwick was to be his choice to read Politics and Economics. His arrival on to campus in the autumn of 1966 even pre-dates mine by 5 years! Our University in those days had little to offer with respect to physical infrastructure, but an outstanding vision modelled by our first Vice Chancellor and an academic community of brilliant young teachers and researchers. Sports provision was also in its infancy, requiring a bus ride to a local RAF station to access sports pitches; how this contrasts with our Olympic standard pitches at Cryfield, today. Nevertheless, Steve’s footballing talent was soon recognised nationally, gaining selection to represent British Universities.
Whilst studying for his finals, Steve was also playing football for Skelmersdale United, regarded as the country’s leading amateur club of the time, but not necessarily the obvious route to enter the heady heights of the Football league. Nevertheless, on the advice of Bob Paisley, Bill Shankley, the legendary Liverpool Football Club Manager, was persuaded to meet Steve at his student accommodation in Coventry. Steve’s description of this meeting and a subsequent conversation appear at first to be somewhat unusual. Here was a young undergraduate footballer negotiating with one of the game’s most celebrated managers. In response to a contract offer to join Liverpool Football Club at £35 per week, Steve agreed to let Shankley know his decision in a couple of days! This could have been construed as evidence of arrogance in the extreme from a young man. Certainly not. His deep respect for his father inevitably led him to first discuss the prospect of a footballing career with the man whose views he valued the most.
Two days later Steve contacted Shankley to confirm his acceptance, subject to a better deal of £40 per week! Shankley agreed, thus heralding a life-long and very close, personal relationship. Again, a possible further example of arrogance. Not the case. Evidence of a careful assessment of his current situation. He was due to marry that summer and long term job security in football was far from guaranteed. The extra few pounds would be valuable. Such an analysis of his circumstances was not surprising. After all, he was on the verge of becoming an economist, driven by political realism!
Over the next 10 years Steve became a regular member of one of this country’s most successful football clubs. 329 first team appearances and 50 goals. During this period his medal tally with the club was truly amazing, winning four First Division Championships, one FA Cup medal, three European Cup championships and two UEFA Cup championships. In addition, he represented the Republic of Ireland 34 times.
Eventually, even the most illustrious playing careers must end. For Steve this came in the late ‘70s. A second playing career followed in the USA in 1981, but North American football at senior level was in its infancy and offered limited opportunities at that time. A career change, but still in football was in order. And so began a career in coaching, which many might argue was to provide Steve with an opportunity to leave a legacy even more valuable than that as a player.
Steve began his coaching career in Florida with Clearwater Chargers Youth Soccer Club where he stayed until his return to Liverpool in 1989. Steve’s passion for coaching is matched by his success. His return to Liverpool as Youth Development Officer and more latterly as Academy Director, was at the behest of another legendary manager, Kenny Dalglish. Steve’s role at the club since his return was to nurture young talent. Generations of such individuals have benefitted from his experience and knowledge, including such high profile players as Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. Steve’s coaching philosophy has always been simple: the development of individual skill; an approach epitomised by the Spanish National side in the recent European Championships. However, to develop this skill and an ability to react instinctively to the ever changing run of play in football requires expert guidance and time. Steve has been the outspoken advocate of this approach: a teacher and coach, avoiding the British dependence on tactics to gain success. As a consequence he has brought himself into conflict with the senior administrators of the game. As he once said, “I speak my mind and sometimes that’s not what people want to hear.” The football pundits and the media, too, have been seriously challenged by Steve for their lack of true understanding as to what makes outstanding footballers and football teams; challenge, again, not fuelled by arrogance, but through years of experience and a carefully considered assessment of our national game. It could be argued that he is a product of his education to which our own institution has contributed. An enquiring mind, eager to learn and only then a willingness to translate into practice and subsequently challenge his own ideas: evidence of a real academic. Could this suggest a missed career opportunity? I think not and I am sure that generations of football fans that once watched Steve move down the right wing at Anfield , riding tackles and showing perfect ball control at speed, would agree. So, too, those aspiring footballers, some to become world-class players, that he has coached until his retirement in 2007.
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of the Council I present to you for admission to the degree of Master of Arts, honoris causa, Mr. Steve Heighway.
This oration was written by Mr Terry Monnington, Director of the Department of Physical Education and Sport.
I am honoured to present Professor Sir David King for the award of an honorary degree at Warwick in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the fields of physical chemistry, climate change and science policy.
David King was born in Durban, South Africa in 1939, and was educated at Johannesburg's Witwatersrand University. During this time - in the early 1960s - he became an anti-apartheid activist and was interrogated by the police who accused him of being a communist. Unsurprisingly, he left South Africa and moved to the UK, initially to Imperial College, and then the University of East Anglia. In 1974, he was appointed Brunner Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Liverpool, becoming Head of Chemistry soon after. He quickly established Liverpool as a world-leading institution for research in surface science and heterogeneous catalysis, attracting new talent and investment to the university, and influencing many students – including myself – who have since gone on to lead successful careers. I remember clearly as a student our lively discussions in the mid-1980s, and I did not imagine that nearly 30 years later, I would be delivering the oration for your honorary degree!
In 1988, David moved to the University of Cambridge, where he was appointed the 1920 Professor of Physical Chemistry, becoming Head of Chemistry in 1993 and Master of Downing College in 1995. His research continued to flourish with major advances made in the development of new experimental methods for studying chemical processes at solid surfaces, and in explaining at the molecular level the underlying principles of heterogeneous catalysis, an area of huge importance to the chemicals industry.
His reputation as one of the UK’s leading scientists was recognised in 2000, when he was appointed the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office of Science, providing advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. He underwent a baptism of fire with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, playing a key role in the policy for controlling the epidemic. During his tenure, he raised very significantly the profile of the need for governments worldwide to act on climate change and was instrumental in establishing the UK Energy Technologies Institute. He chaired the government’s Global Science and Innovation forum and advised on a wide range of critical issues, including; post 9/11 risks to the UK, genetically modified foods, energy provision, obesity and flooding. He was heavily involved in establishing the government’s Science and Innovation strategy of 2004-2014, and there is little doubt that he played a key role in ensuring the government recognised the importance of rigorous research and the need to invest in the country’s science base. Remarkably, during this eight year tenure as Chief Scientist, he continued to maintain - in his spare time - a vibrant research activity at Cambridge, meeting his research group at weekends and continuing to publish prolifically.
David stepped down from his role as Chief Scientist in December 2007, but continued his passion for climate change by moving to the University of Oxford, where he became the first Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He helped bring together an elite group of academics and students from all over the world to create a centre that helps leaders in business and government make well-informed decisions to secure a sustainable low carbon future.
David King has always stood up for issues he believes very strongly in. There was of course his anti-apartheid stance as a student in South Africa, where at times he feared for his life. However, he was also not afraid to be outspoken during his time as Government Chief Scientist, most notably on the subject of climate change. He made it very clear, for example, that he saw “climate change as the greatest challenge facing Britain and the World in the 21st century”, and he became unpopular with the Bush administration in the United States, when he said that “climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today – more serious even than the threat of terrorism”.
David King has led a very distinguished scientific career. He has published over 500 papers and has been awarded numerous prizes, fellowships and honorary degrees. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2006, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce in 2006, and to Foreign Fellowships of the American Academy of Arts and Science in 2002 and the Third World Academy of Sciences in 2000. He received the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society for his research in 2002, was knighted for his services to science in 2003, and in 2009, the French President made him a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur for his work on climate change and for negotiating the international agreement to build the worlds largest technology project, the ITER fusion reactor. A truly remarkable list of achievements!
Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, Professor Sir David King.
This oration was written by Professor Tim Jones, Department of Chemistry.
Mr Chancellor, ladies and gentleman, graduands and graduates.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce a most remarkable man, Dr Alan Reece. In a lifetime of innovation, he has created world-leading British companies exploiting his pioneering technology, consistently advocated the importance of manufacturing and made a major personal contribution to engineering education.
He graduated in Mechanical Engineering at Kings College, Durham in 1947, was Graduate Apprentice at Vickers Armstrong, awarded an MSc in Agricultural Engineering and, after periods with Ford and International Harvester, appointed Lecturer in Agricultural Engineering at Newcastle University in 1956. After achieving a PhD and promotions to Reader, he left the University in 1984 to focus on the business Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) which he had started in 1971. SMD arose from his desire to focus on design rather than analysis and create innovative machines for companies with real challenges.
The North Sea oil industry required seabed geotechnical knowledge, together with theoretical analysis of the problems in earthmoving underwater. Dr Reece was approached as soil mechanics expert to advise on the soil on the seabed. He applied his understanding of agricultural engineering to design a range of lightweight and easy to pull ploughs for trenching oil and gas pipelines, subsequently backfilling the trench with ploughed soil to cover and stabilise the pipeline and provide thermal insulation.
In the early 1980s, undersea telecommunications cables were being damaged by anchors and trawler dragnets. The only system for burying cables applied a damaging level of tension to fragile cables. The innovative approach in SMD’s ploughs exerted less tension and consequently damage, slashing the cost of installing the global telecommunications infrastructure. In 1994, SMD was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award, the UK’s premier award for innovation in engineering.
When in 2008 60% of shares were sold, SMD was one of the world's leading manufacturers of remote intervention equipment. With 300 employees, it was Subsea UK Company of the Year in 2011, awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2011 and Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International Trade) in 2012. Its vehicles operate in challenging subsea environments worldwide with one of its vehicles involved in the plugging of the BP Deepwater Horizon well.
That achievement would be enough for most people, but since 1988 Dr Reece has been owner and director of Pearson Engineering Ltd. He was asked to advise how, from his experience of lifting sugar beet from the soil, anti-tank mines could be cleared. Now his company is a global leader in the manufacture of specialist equipment for the safe removal of land mines. A particular expertise is the development of specialised countermine and combat engineer equipment for armoured fighting vehicles, now exported world-wide. Pearson has won major international contracts, in particular from the USA, by designing products in anticipation of defence market needs. Fabrication and assembly are carried out by Pearson Engineering Services, employing 200 people. In 2012, Pearson was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its Self Protection Adaptive Roller, which has saved hundreds of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by setting off Improvised Explosive Devices which would otherwise have detonated under vehicles.
Anybody that visits these companies will realise the sheer scale and complexity of the technology he has created. His companies have consistently developed state of the art products in the most complex areas of technology, to be applied in the most challenging environments. The Reece Group continues to expand, investing in businesses with a similar product development ethos. In 2007, Dr Reece established The Reece Foundation with the aim – ‘ Of advancing the teaching of engineering, maths and physics at various institutions in the UK and other charitable activities’. He sees engineering as a creative, exciting pursuit and has said that ‘the key to great success is having the right people working for you’. Accordingly, the Reece Foundation has made major contributions to engineering education. In the Sunday Times’ Rich List (2012), Dr Reece is placed eleventh in the list of Charitable Donors, giving more than £20m, about half of which has promoted important engineering / educational projects.
Dr Reece is passionate about UK manufacturing, having led by example. In 2006, he published a paper arguing that the decline in manufacturing had led to a decline in demand for highly-paid technologists, which was in turn partially responsible for problems in the teaching of maths and the sciences. In 2011, Civitas published his booklet - Reviving British Manufacturing: Why? What? How? In it, he argues for the reinvigoration of manufacturing to resolve the massive and growing balance of trade deficit.
Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Alan Richard Reece.
This oration was written by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Director of the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
David Edgar has been one of the most significant figures in British theatre in the last forty years, not only as an author and mentor of new writers, but also on account of his continuing engagement in public life. ‘Of the distinctive voices in the contemporary British Theatre’, according to Janelle Reinelt and Gerald Hewitt, in their recently published monograph on this playwright, ‘David Edgar provides the most comprehensive articulation of major political questions’. Unfortunately, Janelle cannot be here today to deliver this address, but I would like to quote a paragraph from her book, which succinctly demonstrates why we are celebrating David Edgar today. David Edgar’s career, she writes,
spans more than four eventful and politically complex decades, and encompasses every variety of writing for performance, including agitprop and touring pieces, community plays, radio, film and television plays, and large-scale plays produced in major national venues such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. In addition, Edgar maintained a high profile as a public intellectual, engaging in depth with a wide variety of political issues through newspaper opinion pages, journal essays, and book review, as well as via frequent public speaking engagements before a variety of organisations ...Edgar has been a central figure in British public life, particularly with regard to the relationships among the arts, government, and society....[Throughout his career] he has continued to forge a theatre that embodies the social predicaments of modernity as they have developed from the Second World War to the new millennium.
All of Edgar’s writings, plays as well as other forms, address the most basic questions of how humans organise and govern themselves in modern societies; in this regard he is the consummate political writer.
David Edgar’s plays from Destiny and Mary Barnes via Pentecost and Maydays to Playing with Fire and Testing the Echo, the latter of which toured to Warwick Arts Centre a couple of years ago, traverse many themes and issues. His adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company reminded us that there was more to Dickens than quaintness and sentimentality, and strongly emphasised the social issues that are so deeply embedded in that novel. Recently, Edgar’s fascinating dramatisation of the politics and intrigue behind the making of the King James’s bible, Written on the Heart, premiered at Stratford before its successful transfer to London’s West End. David Edgar’s plays never lose touch with fundamental issues of humanity, justice and morality, but also reach deeply into the social and political complexities of human interaction. In a career spanning over forty years he is still delivering outstandingly crafted and thought-provoking plays, keeping alive the theatre’s function as a conduit of debate and the exchange of ideas.
As well as his plays, David Edgar has contributed to ongoing debates and discussions around drama and theatre, not only through such volumes as ‘The Second Time as Farce’, but through many other subsequent articles and essays. Another recent publication, How Plays Work, provides not only only invaluable advice for aspirant playwrights, but also insight into Edgar’s own consummate understanding of the craftsmanship involved in the writing of plays. Edgar’s use of the English language in his plays is exquisitely nuanced, as we witness in the debate between Tyndale and Lancelot Andrewes towards the conclusion of Written on the Heart. His afterword to this play includes a defence of the verbal over the visual and of the book. The book, he says, provides ‘easy communication of things, and with people, which you can’t see... [It] is cheap and mass and mobile’. But secondly ‘it invites, indeed requires us to imagine, not just things which aren’t there, but things that don’t yet exist’. Or, as Edgar puts it, ‘without Tyndale, there would be no kindle’. As a dramatist who loves the power of language, it is perhaps no surprise that he is currently President of the Writers’ Guild.
David Edgar has kept alive the sacred flames of critique, analysis and intervention, using language and a brilliant theatrical imagination to maintain the medium of drama and theatre as vital forces in the cultural and intellectual life of this country.
Few people are better positioned than David Edgar to provide some illumination, some context, some ironic observation, and some continuing leadership in the times ahead.
As a leading playwright and major public intellectual, David Edgar provides a barometer through which we can measure the time in which we live, offering balanced and incisive judgments that provoke us to think clearly and carefully about our social and political responsibilities. He is a model of public engagement in himself and to us all.
This oration was written by Professor Jim Davis, School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies.
Born in York in 1942, David Bradley started his distinguished professional career in 1971, when he joined the National Theatre in London, then under the leadership of Laurence Olivier, someone David Bradley remembers as ‘the most inspirational figure I ever worked with’. A lifelong supporter of York City Football Club, David Bradley has lived in Stratford-upon-Avon since the 1980s, where he is President of community-based drama group Second Thoughts. In a career that has spanned and enriched theatre, film and television over the four decades, David Bradley has in his own work proved inspirational.
In the theatre, he has spent several seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company: from 1978—89, from 1991—94 and again in 2003 to take the title role in Titus Andronicus, one of many productions with director by Bill Alexander. Grateful to Alexander for having ‘taken a punt’ on him as a comic actor in the 1980s (up to which point, at the RSC, he had been cast in a string of serious roles, such as Antonio in John Barton’s 1978 production of The Merchant of Venice) David Bradley has worked with several notable directors and undertaken a variety of RSC roles, from the title role in Alexander’s 1987 Cymbeline and Mephistopheles in Barry Kyle’s 1989 Dr Faustus to Dr Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1985) or Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night (1987). He has performed alongside other great actors such as Robert Stephens, playing Gloucester to his Lear, in Adrian Noble’s 1994 production. David Bradley has also returned to the now Royal National Theatre – two seasons in the 1990s (1990, 1995—99), and again in 2004—5, during which time he played Henry IV in Nicholas Hytner’s award-winning production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. Combining subtle skills for both comedy and tragedy, David Bradley has proved a notable interpreter of Harold Pinter, taking on a several of his key roles in landmark productions: Max in The Homecoming at the National (1997), Spooner in Rupert Goold’s No Man’s Land (2008) at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, then in the West End and Davies in The Caretaker at the Sheffield Crucible in 2006, all productions Pinter was involved in.
After early work on television that included Jack Rosenthal’s 1972 ITV Sunday Night Theatre play ‘Another Sunday and Sweet FA’, directed by Michael Apted. David Bradley has become an equally revered and cherished presence in quality popular drama on British television. From Ray Winstone’s father in Sweeney Todd (2006), the terrifying father in Debbie Horsfield’s 6-part series True Dare Kiss (from 2007) to the compassionate founder of the Ipswich drugs project in the drama-documentary Five Daughters (2010) about the serial killer Steve Wright or his roles in literary adaptations such as Andrew Davies’ version of Vanity Fair (1998) or Nicholas Nickleby (2002), David Bradley has brought to his interpretations chilling menace, compassion, thoughtfulness and wit in equal measure. However, of all these immaculate television performances, it is probably Eddie Wells – (old) Labour MP and a curiously moving blend of idealism, pragmatism and bitterness – in Peter Flannery’s brilliant, sweepingly ambitious ensemble series Our Friends in the North (BBC 1996) that stands out.
Directed by Simon Cellan Jones and Pedr James, Our Friends in the North was a 9-part series that dramatized the political history of Britain from 1964 to 1995; it was also a landmark ensemble piece. Like all great actors, David Bradley makes acting seem effortless, the transition from performer to role seamless; he also is an unflinchingly generous performer, generous to his fellow actors (as the defeated foil to Michael Caine in Harry Brown , for example) and ideally suited to ensemble playing, whether it be Our Friends in the North, the Harry Potter films, in which he played Argus Filch the sour caretaker of Hogwart’s, or Mike Leigh’s Another Year, from 2010. Of working with Leigh, Bradley says he ‘learnt more about filmmaking from Mike than anyone else’.
When I asked Bill Alexander about having worked with David Bradley, what he said was: ‘He is, without question, the finest actor I worked with at the RSC or for that matter anywhere else. He intuitively understands one of the fundamental secrets of playing Shakespeare’s characters: to find the tragic in the comic and the comic in the tragic. Whether it’s Sir Andrew or Titus, for him the truth comes first and he can be cripplingly funny or profoundly moving, often within the breath of a moment. He is, quite simply, brilliant.’
Going half mad from their cruelty, King Lear rails against his daughters Goneril and Regan to ‘reason not the need!’ (King Lear, Act 2.4, 259) – that humans would be no different from animals, and man’s life ‘as cheap as beast’s’, if all they needed to be happy were life’s bare and practical essentials. Actually, we fellow humans, need great acting, great drama and the endlessly enriching humanity that superlative actors such as David Bradley bring to their craft.
In rounding off his tribute to him, Bill Alexander added: ‘Although I’ve already done King Lear I hope one day to do it somewhere with him’. We will all look forward to that, but in the meantime: Mr Vice Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa, David Bradley’
This oration was written by Professor Stella Bruzzi, Department of Film and Television Studies.
It is a great honour for me personally to be able to present Ambassador Barry Desker for an honorary degree, for his enormous contributions to public life in Singapore, in East Asia and indeed globally; for his scholarship and his academic leadership; and for his friendship, support and commitment to collaborative projects with the University of Warwick.
As a student, Barry Desker was outstanding. He was a President’s Scholar; in Singapore, a President’s Scholar is a recipient of the most prestigious of university undergraduate scholarships awarded, in most years, to only between 2 and 4 Singapore citizens.
In order to be a President's Scholar, the student must demonstrate academic excellence and an outstanding set of non-academic contributions, but also a strong ethos of public service, soundness of character and the potential to lead. As we have asked him to be honoured today, you may already have guessed that in his life of service, he has excelled on all of these fronts.
In his studies, he graduated from the University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts, with First Class Honours, he obtained his Master’s degree from the University of London (and while in London, he developed an attachment to Arsenal football club), and he studied at Cornell University as Ford Foundation Fellow for two years.
As a public servant, Ambassador Desker served in the Singaporean embassy in Indonesia, from 1976 to 1980 – an exceptionally important location for his country. In his next international posting, from 1982 to 1984, he worked in New York as Singapore’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He was director of the Policy, Planning and Analysis Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, crucially, he returned to Indonesia, as Singapore’s Ambassador from 1986 to 1993. His diplomatic work was so outstanding that he was presented with the Public Administration Medal (Gold).
Following that posting, he moved more fully into the domain of international trade, a field in which he has excelled as scholar as well as diplomat and manger. As Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Trade Development Board between 1994 and -2000, he led the expansion of trade ties with China and India and, despite the Asian financial crisis of 1997, enormous progress was made during his leadership, with Singapore’s foreign trade having risen at the end of his term of office to some £250 billion.
His public service included in 2007, being appointed Singapore’s Ambassador to the Holy See and Spain.
In terms of his academic leadership, he was appointed Director of the Institute of Defence & Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University. This must have been a challenge: his predecessor as Director had left the post in order to become President of the country. But in characteristic style, he excelled in his role as academic leader, subsequently also becoming Dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, which is an acknowledged global centre of excellence.
As a scholar, he has published in an extensive range of top quality academic journals in the United States (the Washington Quarterly), in Australia (the Journal of International Affairs), in the UK (Survival), Germany (Internationale Politik), as well as, of course, in Singapore and throughout Asia. His voice is a key one on matters of central importance to the world today. In 2008 he argued that ‘…war in the Asia-Pacific is unlikely but the emergence of East Asia, especially China, will require adjustments by the West, just as Asian societies have had to adjust to Western norms and values during the American century. The challenge for liberal democracies like the United States will be to embark on a course of self-restraint.’
As Dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University Ambassador Desker has been a good friend to the University of Warwick. He served on the First Warwick Commission; and was for five years a member of the advisory board of a major European Union funded research programme. And he oversaw the process of creating a double degree at Master’s level between Warwick and his University, which involves students studying for one year in each country, and has capitalised on the close working relationship between academic staff in both institutions. The first students of this programme graduate this week.
His commitment to academia mirrors that of Warwick: he said, “By doing cutting-edge research, we’ll be able to attract the best faculty members from around the world to teach here. And it’s only by having good teachers that we can have top students in our programmes.” This is a commitment that he has put into practice in Singapore. And it is a commitment that underpins all our efforts here in Warwick.
Mr Chancellor, on behalf of the Council, I present to you, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, Ambassador Barry Desker.
This oration was written by Professor Stuart Croft, Department of Politics and International Studies.
I am honoured to present Sir Keith Peters for the award of the degree of Doctor of Science at Warwick in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the fields of medical research, capacity development and academic leadership.
Sir Keith was born was born near Port Talbot on the 26th of July 1938 (which means that he is fated to wishes of “Happy Birthday” at Honorary Degree ceremonies!). He studied at the Welsh School of Medicine, graduating in 1961, and then went on to an MRC Fellowship in the University of Birmingham, before moving to the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill. He returned to his roots to work at the Welsh School of Medicine before moving to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital where he remained for a decade, and where I first met him. (I hope he no longer remembers the junior doctor who needed to leave Hammersmith one month early, creating a tedious gap in the rota). As Director of the Department of Medicine, Sir Keith can claim much of the credit for the reputation that Hammersmith developed in the later 1970s and 1980s. Clinical research of the highest quality was the hallmark of this remarkable place, but its heart probably rested in the weekly Grand Round, which I still remember well because of the frank and forthright exchanges of views which peppered proceedings.
Leaving Hammersmith, Sir Keith was elected to the Regius Chair of Physic at Cambridge in 1987 and held it until 2005. This Chair was founded in 1540 by Henry VIII (making it somewhat older than Warwick). Sir Keith led the School of Clinical Medicine, where he is well known for building teams, particularly between basic scientists and clinical researchers. Sir Keith’s research has focused on the immunology of arterial inflammation, a devastating process underlying many clinical syndromes, especially diseases of the kidney. While his work helped elucidate mechanisms, Sir Keith is a physician through-and-through, and so much of his focus has been on methods of treatment including plasma exchange and the use of immune suppressing drugs.
Of course Honorary degree orations are familiar for their focus on achievement, my theme to this point, but Keith is also well known for his humour and bon mots. So I felt that the oration would be incomplete without a concerted search for anecdotes. My first informant would prefer to remain anonymous but remembers Keith fondly as an arch-persuader, who generally got his way - mainly over business dinners. He also recalls Sir Keith’s foundation of the “Knights and Dames Dinner” for Hammersmith luminaries such as: Alasdair Breckenridge (my chief for decades and still the Chair of the MHRA), Sally Davies (founder of NIHR and now Chief Medical Officer) and Mike Rawlins (Chairman of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)). My second informant is less coy – Professor Steve O’Rahilly of the University of Cambridge gave me a particularly pithy bon mot, offered to him as advice - something for our graduates to note I think: “Never sit on a committee without a budget”.
Sir Keith was knighted in the 1993 New Year’s Honours List, was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1995 for his contributions to research, and is the recipient of many Honorary Degrees. Mr Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Peters is one of the few who has helped British Biomedical research to its current strength, not least by his support and motivation for talented young clinical academics. We owe him enormous gratitude.
This oration was written by Professor Peter Winstanley, Dean of the Warwick Medical School.
I am honoured to present Professor Isabelle Stengers for the award of an honorary degree in recognition of her outstanding, influential and exemplary scholarship in the areas of philosophy and history of science.
In a typically quirky remark, the sociologist of science Bruno Latour, himself an honorary graduate of this University, once wrote that ‘Isabelle Stengers is the greatest French philosopher of science - except that she is from Belgium’. As many of us know, of course, sometimes a dominant culture needs all the help it can get. And it could be said that the work of Isabelle Stengers precisely exposes and examines the structures and shortcomings of dominant thinking, within the history of science.
Born in 1949, Professor Stengers graduated in chemistry from the Université libre de Bruxelles, where she occupies the Practices of Knowledge Production Chair, while this year concurrently holding the Willy Calewaert Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She was the first woman to win the Académie française grand prize for philosophy, in 1993, and is the most recent recipient of the FRS-FNRS Ernest-John Solvay Prize for humanities and social sciences, which is conferred on a Belgian scholar only every five years.
Having studied under Ilya Prigogine, the Nobel laureate chemist and pioneer of chaos theory, Professor Stengers collaborated with him on her first publication La Nouvelle Alliance (translated as Order out of Chaos) in 1979. This book brilliantly proposes how the classical tension in science between order and chaos can be reconfigured in transformative ways. Stengers was to collaborate again, in 1996, with Prigogine on the French version of The End of Certainty, which is now regarded as a classic text on complex and open systems in which common views of physics are transformed through a focus on irreversibility, instability and indeterminism.
Since that first publication, Isabelle Stengers has for the past thiry years published a series of trenchant re-evaluations of areas such as psychiatry and psycho-somatic medicine, economics and politics, ecology and technology, highlighting in each case the problematizing relationship which these forms of discourse have with the so-called hard sciences. Relevant works include The Invention of Modern Science of 1993, which follows a ‘principle of irreduction’ in its challenging approach to the definition of science; the 2002 Hypnosis. Between Magic and Science; and the 2008 Au temps des catastrophes or ‘Time of Disasters’.
From the beginning, Professor Stengers has often challenged orthodoxies through co-publication. This was logical, given her interest in intrusive challenges to monological solutions, but it now feels increasingly prescient, given our growing appreciation of collaborative complexity, which she has always viewed as one of the strengths of creative science. Relevant books here include the 1989 Critique of Psychoanalytic Reason (Le Cœur et la Raison), co-written with Léon Chertok, which scrutinizes the Freudian science of irrationality; the 1991 Drogues. Le défi hollandais, co-authored with Olivier Ralet, which contributed to a national debate in France about drug legalization; or the typically imaginative 2005 post-Seattle critique Capitalist Sorcery, co-written with Philippe Pignarre. Indeed, Stengers has even co-founded a press called, fittingly, ‘Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond’, or Preventers of Circular Thinking.
It is typical also of the nature of Stengers’ challenge to categorization that she often brings together in her work such different, unclassifiable and occasionally overlooked intellectuals as the English philosopher-mathematician Alfred North Whitehead, the French thinker of individuation Gilbert Simondon, and the American neopaganist and ecofeminist Starhawk. The common denominator is always that of an intellectual adventure, and in each case Stengers’ description of these thinkers cogently evokes the liberating experience of reading Stengers herself. So in the absolutely comprehensive Thinking with Whitehead, published in 2002 after some thirty years of enquiry, Stengers concludes that Whitehead was less the author of his concepts than a captivated articulator of speculation.
One of Isabelle Stengers’ key terms is that of cosmopolitics. This indicates a conscious ‘ecology of practice’ that contests the bifurcation of nature by a universalizing discipline. Stengers thus seeks to acknowledge non-hierarchical modes of coexistence captured within closed value systems, by producing a philosophical and constructivist examination of science that foregrounds how sciences themselves impinge upon the world which they categorize. Her wonderful seven-volume work bearing the title Cosmopolitics carries out just such a process of ethical experimentation by delivering powerful meditations on the history of physics: these scrutinize how science has been subordinated to probabilistic interpretations which are themselves then re-imposed on nature as a unifying ideology of physics.
One of the many achievements of this crucial work, as with all of Stengers’ work, is that it consistently resists the temptation to resolve uncertainty through recourse to a transcendental vision, or a permanent skepticism or an uncritical tolerance. Instead, the close and rich readings always stay within the ecology of the practices concerned. They are also, just as importantly, beautifully written, as befits a philosophical approach that looks to liberate thinking from those powerful and polarising political applications of science in today’s world that can themselves act as a form of monolingualism.
It is a privilege to honour such a profound, provocative and liberating thinker, and to salute a longstanding, radical and transformative body of research that symbolizes all that a university seeks to embody and champion. Mr Chancellor, on behalf of the Council, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, Professor Isabelle Stengers.
This oration was written by Professor Sean Hand, Department of French Studies.
When you hear the term ‘global city’ and more lately ‘global street’ then it is to Professor Saskia Sassen that you must turn. As one of the most significant sociologists of her generation, Professor Sassen is attributed with putting these terms into the lexicon. Needless to say, her range of influence extends well beyond the boundaries of her discipline and indeed beyond the academy.
So how might we summarise the significant contributions that Professor Sassen has made to the study of globalization, of cities, of transnationalism, immigration and new networked technologies? I offer you three suggestions.
Professor Sassen demolishes the shibboleths of a whole range of disciplines. Professor Sassen is a ‘writer as agitator’ without measure. And, perhaps not surprisingly given these qualities, Professor Sassen has great skill as a communicator.
Turning to the matter of demolished shibboleths, Professor Sassen is not content to approach her work within the received customs and beliefs of her discipline. Rather, she challenges scholars to look beneath the surfaces of their, often over-simplified, concepts. For example, in her book Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages she comments that much of the writing on globalization has focused on its most self-evident manifestations. Such an approach neglects how globalization is made, sustained, performed, challenged and undone within the architecture of the nation state. As Professor Sassen remarks, ‘There is much more going on than meets the global eye – or than highly recognizable global scalings allow us to understand.” The nation state, as Sassen teaches us, is the most historically complex structure we have produced. It would do us well to recognize this.
In the matter of ‘writer as agitator’, we can turn to Professor Sassen’s writing on global cities to gain a sense of how her work is designed to cut through established truths. In the third edition of her text Cities in a World Economy Professor Sassen notes how one of the most controversial aspects of her work has been her argument that inequalities are growing in the global cities that she analyses as having more in common with each other than with regional centres in their own nation states. She notes that the wealth of these cities – think of, to name a few, London, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Sydney and more lately Buenos Aires, Mexico, Taipei and Bangkok – has grown. But her analysis is salutary, particularly at this time of economic recession, when she highlights how we should not be dazzled by the income levels of an overly valorized and highly paid professional class to such an extent that we cannot see beneath its glow to the under-valorized and low pay of those working in the service sector or indeed the insecurity and meager income of those working in the informal economy.
This dissent in Professor Sassen’s work is transposed to global stirrings in her new concept of the Global Street. In this Professor Sassen re-conceptualises the meaning of the street to draw attention to the global nature of street protest in terms of its simultaneity and spread. Street protests include the uprisings in the Arab world, the Occupy movement, neighbourhood protests in China’s major cities and Latin America’s piqueteros. As Professor Sassen notes, what is significant is that these protests are largely about social claims, economic justice and access to work. For example, a recent march of 100,000 people in Tel Aviv was not aimed at bringing down the government. It was to ask for access to housing and jobs.
Thirdly, let us consider the communicative skill that is evident in Professor Sassen’s work. This can be seen in certain turns of phrase. Think for a moment that ‘The city is a space where the powerless can make history’ and how this triggers a synoptic overview for understanding the global street. It can be seen in the commentary and reviews of her work where it has been noted that Professor Sassen is a pacesetter in the disciplines of sociology, geography and urban planning as well as for others with interests in globalization and cities. It can be seen in how her work has been translated into over 21 languages. It can also be seen in Professor Sassen’s prolific output, media commentary, and her vibrant Twitter feed.
Perhaps none of this facility with communication and interest in the global, cities and the transnational is surprising. In an autobiographical reflection, Professor Sassen noted that she was ‘always being the foreigner but never an expatriat’. After all, Saskia Sassen has Dutch origins and grew up in Argentina. She spent part of her youth in Italy and a year each studying in France, Rome and Buenos Aires. She is currently the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and the Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. Yet, within the spaces of time in academic study, Professor Sassen is also an accomplished musician who has toured with a band.
It is with great privilege that I present Professor Sassen to you today.
This oration was written by Professor Christina Hughes, Department of Sociology.
Dr Nemat Shafik, BA MSc DPhil, universally known by her nickname Minouche, is the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. A national of the UK, the US and Egypt, Dr Shafik is a global citizen with a global reputation in fields ranging from emerging markets, to international development, to the Middle East and Africa, to the international financial system. Dr Shafik’s vast experience covers policy-making, leadership, management and academia.
After an early childhood spent in both Egypt and the United States, Dr Shafik’s secondary education was in Alexandria, after which she attended the American University in Cairo, the University of Massachusetts—Ameherst, the London School of Economics and finally Oxford University, from where she holds her doctorate in economics. She then joined the World Bank and undertook a series of roles starting in the Research Department where she worked on global economic modelling and forecasting and then later on environmental issues. She moved to do macroeconomic work on Eastern Europe during the transition period and on the Middle East, where she published a number of books and articles on the region’s economic future, the economics of peace, labour markets, regional integration, and gender issues.
Dr Shafik was the youngest-ever Vice President at the World Bank at the age of 36, where she was responsible for a private sector and infrastructure portfolio of investments, and was part of the senior management team of the International Finance Corporation. She led a revitalisation of the Bank’s work on private sector and infrastructure which improved the performance of a portfolio of projects worth $50 billion and built up a pipeline of investments that grew steadily by $1 billion per year. She also served on the senior management team of the International Finance Corporation where she was responsible for better integrating policy advice and private investments in telecommunications, oil, gas and mining, and small and medium enterprises.
Before being appointed as Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011, Dr Shafik served as the Permanent Secretary of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), to which she was initially seconded in 2004 from the World Bank as Director General for Country Programmes, where she was responsible for all of DFID’s overseas offices and financing across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. She was appointed Permanent Secretary at DFID in 2008 and she managed a bilateral aid programme in over 100 countries, multilateral policies and financing for the United Nations, the European Union and various international financial institutions. She was also responsible for overall development of DFID policy and research. During her tenure, DFID was described by the OECD independent peer review as “a recognised international leader in development”.
In addition to her policy and operational roles, Dr Shafik, has held academic appointments at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, and in the Economics Department at Georgetown University, and she has made a number of important contributions in learned journals, bringing together keen academic insight and first-hand experience of developmental issues.
Dr Shafik currently serves on a number of boards including the Middle East Advisory Group to the International Monetary Fund, and the Economic Research Forum for the Arab World, Iran and Turkey. She is also active on the board and as a mentor to the UK Minority Ethnic Talent Association which supports under-represented groups to advance to senior positions in the civil service.
She has also chaired several international consultative groups, including the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme, the Global Water and Sanitation Program, Cities Alliance, the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility, and the Global Corporate Governance Forum.
The University of Warwick commends Dr Shafik’s lifelong passion and active advocacy of international development in all its various ramifications and recognises and salutes her highly distinguished contributions to this field, which have had an important impact upon the lives of millions of people around the world. Dr Shafik’s drive and determination to make a real difference to the world are a shining example to our graduands. The University of Warwick is proud to be able to honour Dr Shafik in this way at our Summer Degree Congregation.
This oration was written by Professor Mark Taylor, Dean of the Warwick Business School.
UK society is going through a period of profound political, economic and social change and increasing challenge to those in positions of authority. Trust in politicians, bureaucrats, bankers and journalists is on the wane, and scepticism is flourishing. In striking contrast, we have in Sir Bob Kerslake someone who, as Head of the UK home civil service, is widely trusted and respected as an effective public leader and manager, and for his integrity, his relentless focus on achieving better outcomes for society and his genuine interest in people of all classes and conditions.
Bob was a student here at the University of Warwick between 1973 and 1976, leaving with a first class degree in Mathematics. He then stayed on for a further year to be a sabbatical officer for the Students’ Union, getting an early taste of management in a democratic setting – and no doubt of the jazz which has remained one of his lifelong interests. Bob qualified as a public accountant and worked for a number of local authorities in and around Londonbefore becoming Director of Finance and then Chief Executive at the London Borough of Hounslow.
Bob has had two spells as a local authority chief executive, the second most famously being from 1997 to 2008 at Sheffield City Council, the fourth largest local authority in the UK serving a population of ½ million, with a budget of around £1 billion, and with 18,000 staff. Bob’s work at Sheffield was highly regarded not only by the elected politicians, but also by his staff, and by the public. His leadership of the city, with practical and visible outcomes, also began to catch the attention of national government, which wanted to work with him to learn the lessons of organizational turnaround. Other local authority chief executives saw him as outstanding in their profession, and a strong ambassador for local government in general. At Sheffield, by dint of relentless hard work, he created and nurtured a strong management team and together with the councillors and staff they took the local authority from one which was in financial difficulties with many poor quality services to one which was deemed to be excellent in national league tables, and which indeed won Council of the Year award in 2005.
How did he do this? How did he inspire such loyalty and dedication from those he worked with, and to say that it was a pleasure to work for him? This is an object lesson in both leadership and management. First, his colleagues speak of his high intelligence and sound judgement with a real drive to understand problems thoroughly. He is said to be the only person who has read every paragraph of the European Union’s Maastricht Treaty. Second, he is bold in his vision of transformation and supportive of colleagues with imaginative ideas. Third, colleagues say that he has a prodigious appetite for work, and can maintain an absolute and calm focus until the job is completed, until the puzzle is solved. One colleague said he was a nightmare to work with because one could never keep up with him, either intellectually or in terms of stamina and so the trick was not to compete but to work out how to complement him. Fourth, I have been told that he inspires loyalty and commitment from staff at all levels in the organization because of his capacity to actively listen to people and to connect with them, a skill which is much talked about in management theory but not so often practised. Fifth, his skill in looking at problems from a variety of different perspectives combined with his genuine interest in people means that he is widely respected for the quiet wisdom of his judgements. He seems able to build bridges between different types of people - from Sheffield steelworkers to business leaders or university professors. Sixth, delivers what he promises, or makes it clear what he can or cannot deliver on. He has worked successfully with elected politicians across all the major political parties, from Labour Ken Livingstone at the Greater London Council to Conservative Eric Pickles, Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government, and a range of others in the political spectrum and inspires their confidence that he will get things done. Finally, he has a strong commitment to creating a learning organization and he models in his own behaviour an outward focus, a keenness to know what other organisations are doing and what lessons from outside can be brought into the organization. And all this in a softly spoken, thoughtful and calm manner but also with the ability to tough it out in difficult situations and not cave in to pressure. This is what is increasingly coming to be known in academic studies as “quiet leadership” – a strong focus on purpose combined with a genuine desire to engage others and nurture their potential. Bob combines this leadership style with a drive to get things done and considerable operational experience - it is not just talk.
Bob has a passion for many kinds of music, including jazz, rap and playing the guitar. Perhaps the jazz in particular is a key to understanding how he works with others - disciplined mastery of a solo instrument combined with the synergies of improvisation with others.
In 2010 Bob moved from being Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council to a post as the first chief executive of the new (and short-lived) Housing and Communities Agency (HCA). He then became Permanent Secretary of a central government department, the Department of Communities and Local Government, and after a mere year in post he was then also selected to lead the entire Civil Service in the post of Head of the home Civil Service, running both DCLG as a department and the corporate and professional side of the civil service. Until recently, the appointment of permanent secretaries was only rarely from outside the civil service. To gain the post from a position in local government is, therefore, rare in itself, but to be promoted, within a year, to lead the UK home civil service signals that both politicians and senior civil servants have a high level of confidence in his abilities and judgement – or at least great skill in passing on the poisoned chalice! In conclusion, it is a matter of pleasure and pride for this university that the last two heads of the civil service Sir Gus O’Donnell and Sir Bob Kerslake both graduated from Warwick University rather than Oxbridge.
This oration was written by Professor Jean Hartley, Warwick Business School.
Pro-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, new graduates, ladies and gentlemen
I am honoured to present Oliver Hart for the award of an honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding scholarship, most notably, for his path-breaking work on the role and allocation of power in economic relationships. Oliver is one of the best-known academics to have studied at Warwick where he is currently an honorary professor in the Economics Department.
Oliver is the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1993. Born in Britain, he holds a B.A. in mathematics from King's College, Cambridge, an M.A. in economics from the University of Warwick, and a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. He taught at the London School of Economics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before arriving at Harvard.
The father of modern economics, Adam Smith, argued in his classic treatise titled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations that in a world with no frictions, markets will allocate resources efficiently. But, alas, frictions of various kinds exist in the real world. For example, buyers often do not know the quality of a product or a service. Just think of the time when you were looking to buy a second-hand car. Or think of firms who are unsure of the true abilities of a job applicant. I hasten to add that does not apply to job applicants who are Warwick graduates!
Oliver has spent much of his professional career thinking about the problem of resource allocation in a world with frictions. A focus of his work has been on firms, and other organizations, that bring people together to produce goods and services, and who transact with each other inside the organization, and not in the market place. Authority relations come to life in such scenarios. Oliver’s research developed new analyses and insights concerning the importance of authority and power in economic relationships. His work has shown the best way to divide power amongst various agents so that resources end up being allocated efficiently.
At the root of the economic problem that Oliver has worked on is that there are fundamental uncertainties about the future which no one can foresee, not even the rational economic man or woman. As such, relationships will necessarily be governed by implicit or explicit incomplete contracts. People will renegotiate the terms of their relationship as events unfold through time. Just think, as an example, of marriage or for that matter any other complex economic or non-economic relationship.
Oliver’s work is summarized in his own words in the now classic treatise titled Firms, Contracts and Financial Structure. This work has had many applications ranging from problems in international trade to law, and it has revolutionized the field of corporate finance. Indeed recent work has studied the design of good political institutions using the ideas and framework that Oliver Hart laid down in the 1980s and early 1990s.
He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He has been President of the American Law and Economics Association and Vice-President of the American Economic Association, and has several honorary degrees (with the best one being awarded today!).
It is a great privilege to honour this outstanding scholar and a giant of his generation in the field economics. Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Professor Oliver Hart.
This oration was written by Professor Abhinay Muthoo, Department of Economics.