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Honorary Graduand Orations - Summer 2013

Orations are published after the respective ceremony has taken place.

 

Professor Leslie Valiant: Hon DSc (11.00am ceremony on Monday, 15 July)

I am honoured to introduce you to Leslie Valiant – the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Harvard University.

His previous positions were briefly at Carnegie-Mellon and Leeds, then from 1975 to 1982 at Edinburgh, before moving to Harvard in 1982 as Professor.

I should review some of his academic honours, which will take some time. He won the 1986 Nevanlinna Prize. (Like the Fields Medals this is awarded every 4 years at the International Congress of Mathematicians, for work in the Maths/Computer Science border area.)

In 1991 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and in 2001 a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

He received the 1997 Knuth Prize for his work in computational complexity, parallel computation, and learning theory, and in 2008 the Award of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science.

Most recently he won the 2010 Turing Award. This is regarded as the “Nobel Prize” in Computing. When Alfred Nobel made up his list for prizes Computer Science was yet unborn. He didn’t even include Mathematics, but there is no truth in the scurrilous rumour that his wife ran off with a mathematician.

To quote fragments of the Turing Award citation:

"Time and again, Valiant's work has literally defined or transformed the computer science research landscape. Rarely does one see such a striking combination of depth and breadth as in Valiant's work. He is truly a heroic figure in theoretical computer science and a role model for his courage and creativity in addressing some of the deepest unsolved problems in science".

So Leslie Valiant is a superstar in computer science. What can I tell you of his research work? Many of you have heard of the P=NP problem, worth $1M for its solution and seen as the biggest open problem in computer science theory. Computer science students will have met the related class #P (“sharp P”): while NP asks for whether or not there is a solution, #P counts how many there are. Valiant introduced #P and proved many results showing its fundamental importance.

People in high performance computing will have met Valiant’s BSP model for parallel computation which allows programmers to write efficient parallel programs based only on a few key performance parameters of the computer or network of computers involved.

Valiant has written two wonderful books. In “Circuits of the Mind” he uses his experience in computational complexity to try to uncover how the human brain, with its limitations of speed, size and connectivity, is able to perform so well in everyday tasks of memory and reasoning.

In other communities Les is best known for his “theory of the learnable”. A child learns quickly to recognise cats, tables, smart phones, and so on. What does it mean for a machine, say, to learn such a concept? Mistakes sometimes are inevitable. Les laid the foundations for the now-huge area of machine learning by making such ideas precise so that theorems concerning learnability or non-learnability could be formulated and proved. One key concept he introduced is PAC learning. His second book “Probably Approximately Correct” introduces PAC learning and other cornerstones of the field. I thoroughly recommend this new book; I am currently about halfway through, enjoying Les’s investigation of the feasible mechanisms powering evolution, in particular using tools from machine learning and complexity to address the big question of how evolution has made such amazing progress in many species, including our own, in such a small number of generations.

Turning from his honours and research, I should mention some achievements which Les would consider more important. In 1977 he married Gayle, who I am happy to see here today. They have two sons, Gregory, currently at Microsoft Research and about to take up a job at Stanford University (he is a rising star in Computer Science theory and applications), and Paul at Brown University (he is a rising star in Computer Science theory and applications).

Leslie Valiant was born in Hungary but brought up in England. He attended Tynemouth High School, then Latymer Upper School in London and King’s College, Cambridge for his BA. Next he took the Imperial College Diploma in Computer Science before coming to Warwick University to start his PhD.

Now I can add a personal note. Les was my first PhD student in the UK and in my inexperience I gave him an interesting but, in retrospect, unreasonably hard problem to start on. (For people in CS this was the equivalence problem for deterministic pushdown automata, which is relevant to programming language compilers.) After a substantial period with little progress, Les didn’t despair but proceeded to invent several elegant special cases of the problem which he was able to solve. After just two years he produced an excellent dissertation for his PhD. As a postscript I can say that the original problem was solved more than 20 years later by Géraud Sénizergues, for which he was awarded the Gödel Prize in 2002.

Les, I hope that the undue stress I caused for you in your PhD can be compensated to some extent by this less stressful celebration of your work and award of honorary degree.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, Professor Leslie Valiant.

This oration was written by Professor Mike Paterson, Department of Computer Science.

Professor Jan de Vries: Hon DLitt (3.00pm ceremony on Monday, 15 July)

Mr. Chancellor,

In 1697 the Amsterdamsche Courant advertised a new product – a pocket globe – ‘2 inches in diameter and encased in a leather cover on the inside of which was presented the heavens with constellations’. Peter the Great bought one as he travelled through Amsterdam. This small mechanism seemed obviously attractive to the many now carrying pocket watches; over 400,000 such watches per year were made in the last quarter of the Eighteenth Century. Though expensive, they were a common male possession, bought at significant stages of the life cycle, or when there was cash spare. These ubiquitous pocket watches open Jan de Vries’s original investigation of the eighteenth-century consumer revolution, a process he termed the ‘Industrious Revolution’.

That dynamism and power of commercial society, and the experiences of very ordinary people, from peasants and artisans to artists have inspired Jan de Vries during his nearly fifty years as a historian. As the major economic historian of the Netherlands he has set the rural, urban, mercantile and art history of this precocious Northern European economy within wider Europe and the world. Between his path-breaking books on the Dutch economy lay his deeply influential works on the early modern European economy and urbanization, especially his European Urbanization 1500-1800 (1984). His major articles of the later 1990s and his 2008 book, The Industrious Revolution and the Industrial Revolution led a whole generation of historians into the study of consumer culture. His provocative analysis of the households of Northern Europe showed how more and more people discovered that money could buy new goods – tobacco and sugar from the Americas, tea, porcelain and textiles from Asia, and their European substitutes, as well as new toys and trinkets like those pocket watches. Households and especially women worked harder for the cash to buy these goods rather than for self-subsistence. De Vries’s more recent work on the Dutch East India Company and his sceptical though engaged debate on the challenges of global history have also made him a central figure in the opening of European historical research to connections with the wider world.

Jan de Vries brings a powerful analytical voice and great distinction as a scholar to both history and economics. He has kept these fields together in a way no other economic historian has been able to. He is the economic historian read by other historians. He is also the economic historian who has conveyed the importance of history to economists.

De Vries has managed to combine this with close archival work on topics which at the outset might seem small – barges and bread – but which he has built into subjects demonstrating the large significance of social institutions and markets. His book, Barges and Capitalism (1978) brought us into the lives of a highly mobile and independent group of people who developed a cost effective way of moving about through a network of canals and barges. And now he is writing a book on Bread. Through the regulation of prices of grains and bread, across the Netherlands between the 1590s and the mid nineteenth century, he has discovered the wide mix of types of bread most consumed, and the early shift in consumer choice to white wheat bread.

Jan de Vries was born in the Netherlands, and moved to the US as a child. He grew up on farms and small communities outside Minneapolis. His father worked as a house painter and a sheet rock or drywall taper; Jan de Vries helped him and went with him to union meetings, a fact he likes to convey among meetings of eminent art historians, asking how painters estimate the value of their work. He studied at Columbia, and loved living in New York City; then at Yale, and from 1973 taught economics and history at Berkeley. In 1982 he was appointed Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of European History at Berkeley, and has taught there over his career; from 2000-9 serving as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. He is Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other honours. He was awarded the Dutch Heineken Prize for outstanding achievement in the field of European history in 2000. He was President of the Economic History Association (US) 1991-1993, and edited the Journal of Economic History for several years. He was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1997-8, and Fernand Braudel Fellow of the European University Institute in Florence in 2012. During these periods and other occasions he has developed close connections with the Warwick History department, the Eighteenth Century Centre and the Global History and Culture Centre where he has appeared frequently for conferences, seminars and lectures.

Mr. Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present for Admission to the Degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Professor Jan de Vries.

This oration was written by Professor Maxine de Berg, Department of History.

 

Mr Dominic Cooke: Hon DLitt (3.00pm ceremony on Monday, 15 July)

Dominic Cooke is one of Britain’s leading Artistic Directors. He has produced many highly acclaimed productions and has had his work staged at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse and the Royal Court.

He has won several awards for his productions including the Laurence Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Award and the Critics’ Circle Award for Clybourne Park in 2010 and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director and Best Revival for The Crucible in 2007. Most recently, he has been awarded the International Theatre Institute Award for Excellence in International Theatre for 2013.

Dominic studied English and Drama here at the University of Warwick where he directed his first play, Tissue by Louise Page in the university chaplaincy. Interestingly, the cast included the writer and actress Ruth Jones, who will be receiving an honorary award here on Wednesday – they are still great friends. Dominic has written that ‘If I hadn’t have done this production, I don’t think I’d be a director now. The space given to young people at university to follow their passions is so important’.

After graduating he formed a theatre company, Pan Optic, which he ran for two years until joining the Royal Shakespeare Company as an Assistant Director – where he recalls having to give the actor Anthony Sher notes at the tender age of twenty-six. He was an Associate Director at the Royal Court from 1999-2002; worked as Associate Director of the RSC between 2002 and 2006 and took on the role of Artistic Director at the Royal Court Theatre in 2006, a role he pursued with vigor and to considerable acclaim until earlier this year.

The Royal Court is Britain’s leading theatre for new writing and during his tenure Dominic became renowned for his eclectic programming and willingness to champion and give space to young playwrights. He has described himself as driven by the need ‘to stay ahead of the game’ and that ‘I am always looking for something you have not seen before – an idea, an argument, a formal concern, a voice…a play that takes something familiar in a new or unexpected direction’. This commitment has paid off big time.

Amongst many notable productions, Dominic’s credits at the Royal Court include programming 19-year-old Polly Stenham’s That Face, Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem and directing Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill and Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, which transferred to the West End, which according to the Guardian theatre critic Lyn Gardner, ‘wouldn't be possible if Dominic Cooke's production wasn't so perfectly pitched’. Offering a searing critique of contemporary race relations and liberal hypocrisy this production was indicative of Dominic’s interest in the big themes – history, power, privilege, responsibility, fears and values – in particular he seems to be attracted to plays that reveal unpalatable views and behavior that can lurk behind the polite veneer of individuals, groups and society. As such, Dominic has continually mined theatre’s capacity to be both a political and questioning cultural force and I’m sure he will continue to do so for many, many more years.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa, Dominic Cook.

This oration was written by Professor Nadine Holdsworth, School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies.


Sir Paul Nurse: Hon DSc (11.00am Ceremony on Tuesday, 16 July 2013)

Mr Chancellor,

Paul Nurse was born in 1949 and was educated at Lyon Park school in Alperton and Harrow County Grammar School - lest you misheard me, that’s not the famous Public School. But is seems to have helped nurture an interest in Biology, for the young Sir Paul went on to study this at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 1970. In 1973 he achieved his PhD from the University of East Anglia.

Sir Paul’s interest focuses on the question: “how do cells know when to divide, and how do they go about it?” Given the complexity of the process, it is remarkable that this usually goes off well. However, if it goes badly, and errors creep in, cancer may well be the end result. Sir Paul realized the difficulties of working with complex cells, like those of humans, and chose to work on something simpler - yeast. So, after his PhD he worked in Edinburgh and then in his own lab in at Sussex University and studied the cell cycle in yeast - demonstrating one of the genes that was critical in controlling cell division. Sir Paul developed this further upon moving to London in 1984, where his team was able to find the human equivalent of that key yeast gene, and showing that our cell cycle is controlled in a similar way to yeast.

By 1993 Sir Paul was the Scientific Director of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, where he oversaw major changes. ICRF and the other major funder of the time, the Cancer Research Campaign merged in 2002 to become Cancer Research UK, and Paul Nurse became its Chief Executive. I should just say a word about scientific direction for research funding organizations, just in case you were worried that Sir Paul had lost his way, and swapped something exciting for something dull. Major charities have one arm that raises revenue, and another that decides how to spend it. You might imagine that priorities could be determined easily by asking scientists. However anyone who knows academics will tell you that any 10 Professors will hold at least 50 diverse opinions with a variety of degrees of passion. So a firm scientific hand on the tiller is absolutely vital, if an organization is to make the biggest impact – that’s what Sir Paul did and continues to do.

You will not be surprised that Sir Paul has won many awards in his career. In 1989 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, he was knighted in 1999 for services to Cancer Research and, as many of you know, he shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2001.

Sir Paul is now President of the Royal Society, a role that sees him engaged in the public understanding of science. He has the warm knack, possessed by few pioneering scientists, of being able to convey something very complicated, in terms that most people understand.

This role also has him in contact with politicians, both here and abroad. I mentioned warmth a moment ago, and it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that he runs from a fight! He has been a vocal proponent of teaching natural selection, of stem cell research on human embryos and (I quote): "treating scientific discussion as if it were political debate". Scientific leaders, he believes, "have a responsibility to expose the bunkum." Wow.

Mr Chancellor, I present Sir Paul Nurse FRS, Nobel Laureate, and one of the leaders of UK science for the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa.

This oration was written by Professor Peter Winstanley, Dean of the Warwick Medical School.

Mr Michael Mackenzie: Hon LLD (3.00pm Ceremony on Tuesday, 16 July 2013)

After a 21 year career in the wine trade, Michael MacKenzie took a change of direction and became Director of Operations for Scottish European Aid, an aid agency specialising in Eastern Europe.

Whilst working in Bosnia in 1993, what he describes as a ‘bit of a bump’ curtailed this new occupation earlier than planned. Mike broke his ribs, collapsed his lungs, lost his spleen, broke his hands, lost his left leg, gave his head a serious bash and severed his spinal cord, resulting in paralysis from the chest level. He ended up in The National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville. He later lost the other leg.

After 18 months in hospital he returned to his home in Scotland where he took up skiing and found that, with some determination, life was a great but very possible challenge.

Michael is now a motivational speaker, hotel and leisure industry disability consultant, writer, charity chairman and adventurer. His speeches are for those interested in understanding ability, not inability and he speaks about topics such as ‘attitudes to disability’ and ‘living life to the full’.

Michael works with clients such as hotels, bars, holiday parks and rehabilitation centres on the access consultancy side of his work. His website explains that his years of travel have given him a practical insight into what works and what details are often not considered by able bodied architects and interior designers.

He has taken part in a wide variety of charity events and challenges including wheelchair relays and, driving rallies.

Michael founded Spinal Injuries Together (SIT), a consortium of five national spinal charities, for which he is now Founding President. He is a Director at Motorsport Endeavour, a motorsport organisation for disabled people, especially service personnel. He is a Trustee at Dive-able, an organisation training people with disabilities to scuba dive. He is also Chairman and Trustee of the Poppa Guttmann Trust.

Michael and his wife Sandy got married earlier this year.

A member of the University of Warwick Council [Viki Cooke] who knows Michael well

summed him up: “He’s utterly inspiring. He’s living testament to the fact that an accident like that changes your life but doesn’t have to end your life.”

This oration was written by Professor Christina Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education (Innovation, Employability and Widening Participation).

Ms Ruth Jones: Hon DLitt (11.00am Ceremony on Wednesday, 17 July 2013)

It is my great pleasure to welcome the actor, writer and producer Ruth Jones back to the University of Warwick for the presentation of her honorary degree. Born in Bridgend, South Wales, she studied Theatre Studies and Dramatic Arts here between 1985 and 1988 and went on to study acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Ruth is, of course, best known for co-scripting and starring in the multi-award winning TV comedy Gavin and Stacey, for which she won the Best Female Comedy Newcomer award at the British Comedy Awards in 2007. In relation to this, she has referred to herself as the longest-ever overnight success story, given that her ‘meteoric’ rise to fame as the indomitable Nessa followed years of brilliance in ensemble casts and supporting roles: as straight-talking Myfanwy from ‘The Only Gay In the Village’ sketch in Little Britain; as Linda, the naive goth beautician, foil to Julia Davies’ evilly scheming Jill in Nighty Night; as anarchist Magz, girlfriend to Steve Coogan’s aging roadie in Saxondale, and as the ballsy Kelly in Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends on ITV1. In these comic television roles, Ruth demonstrated the talents that led towards her writing and performance as Nessa in Gavin and Stacey. What was loved most about Nessa – her deadpan delivery, her sexual frankness, her position as an ‘unlikely romantic heroine’, and the underlying warmth of the quintessential ‘tart with a heart’ – can be traced through these earlier show-stealing roles. Ruth has said that ‘at drama school, I can remember thinking: I will never be Juliet. I will always be the nurse’. Whilst her latest character, the eponymous heroine of Stella, might be somewhat (reluctantly) nearer to Juliet than her previous comic roles, it is clear that she has made a fine art, too, of ‘being the nurse’: of delivering classic, comic, bawdy performances that continue to shine out in one’s memory of a programme, play or film.

Following her great success as a comedy writer and performer, Ruth has appeared on television in ‘straight’ roles more recently, including as Joan Durbeyfield in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, as the overbearing Flora Finching in Little Dorrit, and also in Torchwood, The Street and, brilliantly, playing comedy actress Hattie Jacques in the biopic Hattie. Jones’ performance as Jacques was described by Sam Wollaston in The Guardian as ‘truly extraordinary’, and he went on to write that ‘Jones somehow more than plays Hattie Jacques, she becomes her’. Ruth also appeared in movies East is East and Very Annie Mary and performed on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. She even has a chart-topping single to her name, after she (as Nessa) recorded the Bee Gees hit Islands in the Stream with Gavin and Stacey co-star Rob Brydon to raise money for Comic Relief.

Aside from acting and writing, Ruth and her husband, David Peet, run the independent television production company tidy productions which produces comedy and comedy drama and is based in Cardiff and London. In 2009 Ruth was awarded the Siân Phillips Award by Bafta Cymru, which recognises Welsh people who have made a significant contribution in either a film or network television programme; this award is unsurprising, given the role Ruth has played in putting Wales firmly back on the television map. She was also made a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2009.

In her most recent television work, tidy productions’ comedy drama Stella, which Ruth devised, co-wrote, co-produced and starred in, she returned once again to her Welsh roots (or more specifically to the Rhondda Valley, up the road from her family home of Porthcawl): to stories and characters treated with the kind of affectionate teasing one normally saves for one’s close-friends and family. This seems to be where Ruth is really in her element: finding the fun and laughter in the everyday, with an observational insight that makes us both care about the characters she creates, whilst at the same time finding their quirks and foibles hilariously funny. When I spoke to James Corden, Ruth’s friend, and one-time co-writer and co-star, he said ‘Ruth is one of the best writers and actresses on the planet. She has this incredible heart and compassion. She’s always representing us and she does it brilliantly’. This really attests to that ability Ruth Jones has to connect with people. He also said that ‘Ruth is, without question, the best example of a true friend: supportive, kind, and the most incredible fun to be with. Writing’s never easy but it’s easier if you’re writing with Ruth’. It’s no wonder Ruth is often stopped in the street by people wanting to give her advice (when thinking of her as Stella) or to share news of their latest sexual conquest (in reverence to Nessa). In either case, an artist such as Ruth Jones, who has the ability to make us feel a sense of connection, who can convey warmth and hope, as well as cheer us with laughter, is invaluable and should be cherished and, indeed, honoured.

Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Council, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa, Ruth Jones.

This oration was written by Dr Helen Wheatley, Department of Film and Television Studies.

Mr Adrian Lester: Hon DLitt (3.00pm Ceremony on Wednesday, 17 July 2013)

Mr. Vice-Chancellor,

Adrian Lester is one of Britain’s finest actors.

He was born in Birmingham, his parents were from Jamaica, and when he was fourteen he joined the Birmingham Youth Theatre. This was founded by two local teachers determined to give young people from every part of the community experience of drama and the arts. Adrian went on to train at RADA and graduated in 1989.

Immediately, he was spotted by Britain’s leading theatres – in Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Coventry - and in 1990 he was already in the West End, in August Wilson’s Fences.

Then in 1991 he was back in Coventry, in fact in this very building, in a role that established him as a unique stage artist.

As You Like It was a mould-breaking Cheek by Jowl production, with an all-male cast. It joyfully reinvented Shakespeare’s games with gender and illusion - and Adrian played a tall shy Rosalind playing a boy playing a girl.

Later the director Declan Donnellan admitted the all-male concept required a quite extraordinary Rosalind: they would have dropped the experiment ‘had we not found Adrian Lester’. He won the Time Out Best Actor Award. He won it again the next year, this time as a confidence trickster in Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare. Adrian made him open and generous, charming and sincere: his own qualities as an actor meant that you would have given him your money too.

And in fact Adrian became a welcome fixture in people’s living rooms from 2004 to 2012 when he became the con-man star of the BBC TV hit series Hustle. Meanwhile he excelled with American scripts from Stephen Sondheim’s Company to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Hollywood gave him the lead in Primary Colors, the film inspired by the Clinton presidential campaigns - more hustling, but more sincerity too: because politicians ‘aren’t actually insincere,’ Adrian said: ‘They just believe everything they say at that moment.’

In Kenneth Branagh’s film of Love’s Labour’s Lost, set in the 1930s, the cast were challenged to sing, dance, act, and speak blank verse beautifully. Adrian could do it all.

And, in fact, every few years he has returned to Shakespeare - with a series of extraordinary performances that have redefined great roles. Peter Brook welcomed him into his multicultural Paris company in 2001. Brook’s group is dedicated to the rejection of dead traditions and social elitism, searching for nuances and truth. Talking about Adrian Brook said: '[He is the one actor in England who was natural for the work we do. At last you have an actor so at ease with this complex language that you feel he is inventing it. When we decided to do Hamlet, Adrian was the natural person.’

The National Theatre’s Henry V wasn’t timeless. It was in modern dress and opened in the middle of the Iraq war. Adrian made Henry a 21st century politician, manipulative and threatening - but charismatic and unexpectedly vulnerable too. Afterwards the director Nicholas Hytner admitted: ‘A really creative, great, actor like Adrian will always bring more to the rehearsal room than the director can bring to the actor.’ And a great actor will also reach out from the rehearsal room.

Back into the world.

We remember he began with Birmingham Youth Theatre. In 2010, Adrian returned to the Midlands with his wife Lolita Chakrabarti to work as acting mentors with two Coventry schools. It became an inspirational documentary series for BBC TV: When Romeo Met Juliet. And this was characteristic.

Adrian is a patron of Eastside Educational Trust, a charity with a mission to engage and teach children through participation in the arts and direct contact with artists. He is a patron of the Reidy Youth Foundation. He is also on the Governing Council of RADA. He encourages aspiring actors and film-makers, and only a few weeks ago he spoke at Buckingham Palace on the need for cultural access as a gateway to self- expression. In 2012 Adrian’s concerns came together when he appeared in Lolita Chakrabarti's fine play Red Velvet. He played Ira Aldridge, a great African-American actor who escaped racism and slavery at home by playing Shakespeare across all Europe in the nineteenth century. A ‘great’ actor – but often a forgotten one. Now Aldridge is a familiar name again, a model for those facing prejudice or deprivation but aspiring to the heights.

This year Adrian won the Critic’s Circle award for this performance, and he received an OBE for services to acting.

In 1991 Adrian came to this Arts Centre and astonished us in As You Like It. Today, with gratitude - and still astonished - we welcome him back. Mr. Vice Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa, Adrian Lester.

This oration was written by Professor Tony Howard, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies.

Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter: Hon LLD (3.00pm Ceremony on Thursday, 18 July 2013)


In a widely debated recent article, Anne-Marie Slaughter has argued that 'you can't have it all'; yet one has to say that she has covered an awful lot of bases. A leading academic theorist. A prominent public intellectual. A high-level policymaker. Dean of one of the world's most prestigious schools of public affairs. President of her academic professional association. Named among the top 100 global thinkers in each of the last four years by Foreign Policy Magazine. And also, in this most crowded of lives, a most agreeable colleague, a most concerned and accessible teacher, and a most dedicated family member. Remarkable.Professor Slaughter took her undergraduate degree at Princeton and her law degree at Harvard. A connection to British academe emerged with her MPhil and DPhil from Oxford. She remains an Honorary Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. Her faculty appointments have spanned the Universities of Chicago, Harvard and Princeton. Currently she is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, a position that she will leave later this year as a youthful emeritus.In terms of intellectual contribution Professor Slaughter is one of today's foremost innovative thinkers on global governance. Her ideas on transgovernmental networks and new forms of international law have significantly reconfigured understandings of regulation in today's more global world. In terms of method she has interwoven the fields of international law and international relations to hugely productive effect. Her work also combines analytical advances with deep normative concerns, in particular for the fate of democracy in a world of increased global governance.

Anne-Marie has taken these exceptional intellectual talents and commitments well beyond academe. Throughout her career she has been an astute policy commentator in the leading print and broadcast media. Keeping up with the latest technology, she today also has over 76,000 followers on Twitter. Through all these channels she stands as one of the most respected analysts of America's future position in a rapidly changing world.

Given her rare combination of academic excellence and ability to connect with both policy elites and wider publics, it came as little surprise when Anne-Marie was appointed Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State in the first Obama Administration. She was the first woman to hold this key position in US foreign policymaking. Her outstanding contributions were recognised with a Distinguished Service Medal from the US Secretary of State, a Meritorious Honor Award from the US Agency for International Development, and a Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award from the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

This autumn Anne-Marie takes on her next vocational challenge, as President of the New America Foundation. It is a leading nonpartisan public policy institute which explores the next generation of challenges facing the USA, both domestically and internationally. From this position Anne-Marie will no doubt inject still more - and urgently required - wisdom and vision into US policy processes.

Anne-Marie may be right that 'you can't have it all', but she certainly has given it her all, to great benefit for both academic knowledge and public policy. In particular for this afternoon's women graduates in social studies she offers a most inspiring example of achievement coupled with generosity.

Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter.

This oration was written by Professor Jan Aart Scholte, Department of Politics and International Studies.

Professor Robert Calderbank: Hon DSc (11.00am Ceremony on Friday, 18 July 2013)


Today we are honouring Robert Calderbank for his contributions to fundamental mathematical research, his applications of that research to scientific and technological problems that impact on our daily lives, and for his exemplary scientific leadership. His visionary research work and leadership has not only had significant impact over the last few decades, but also points forward to the future role of mathematics in processing, exploiting and delivering the vast amounts of data that we gather, produce and demand every day. On top of this important research, research impact and scientific leadership, Robert has a special place for all of us here today: he is a Warwick Mathematics Undergraduate.

Robert Calderbank's research covers the areas of signal processing, the analysis of high dimensional data, machine-learning, information theory and coding, wireless communication, quantum information theory and applications of these ideas within science and engineering. He received his BSc. in Mathematics from Warwick University in 1975, placing him in the 8th year of graduates holding this degree. Despite living in Rootes Hall when the tiles were coming loose, he was able to study undistracted and obtained a first class honours degree; but he is pleased to discover that the tiles are now more firmly attached within Rootes!

Robert then moved to Oxford where he completed an MSc. in Mathematics, supervised by Peter Cameron, in 1976. Later that year he moved to the USA, and the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with his advisor Marshall Hall, and graduated with a PhD in Mathematics in 1980. That year he began a 23 year career in telecommunications, starting as a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs and rising to become Vice President of Research at AT&T.

In 2004 Robert returned to academia where he was appointed as a Professor in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics at Princeton University, leaving in 2010 to become Dean of Natural Sciences at Duke University, and taking appointments as a Professor in the Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mathematics Departments. This illustrious career has taken him through positions in several world-leading universities and, at Bell/AT&T Labs, a position at the premiere institutional innovator, worldwide, for research which underpins electronic communications. As a researcher and research leader, Robert has had significant impact in all of these places.

One of Robert's key contributions has been to the V.34 Modem Standard which, when incorporated into the AT&T Microelectronics modem chip set and the AT&T Comsphere modem in 1994, was the fastest modem in the world; it was widely licensed and is found in over a billion devices. His work used algebraic techniques from pure mathematics to design signals that reduced the power necessary to achieve reliable transmission through these devices.

A second key contribution has been to Wireless Communication. Robert introduced the idea of space-time codes into wireless communication and these codes are used in billions of mobile phones and in several wireless standards. Information theory demonstrates that having multiple antennas to both receive and transmit data can result in very high rates of wireless communication. However naive implementations of this idea are subject to significant failure rates. Space-time codes use the mathematics of quadratic forms, developed by number theorists over a hundred years ago, to distribute information across antennas. When one wireless channel fades other channels can take over and deliver the information.

It is a particular pleasure for me to explain this work to a mixture of Mathematicians, Psychologists, their friends and families, and in doing so to demonstrate the power of mathematics as a tool for improving our every day lives. Robert's work is a perfect exemplar of just how important mathematics is today, as it always has been and always will be!

Robert has also made significant contributions to research in Quantum Information Theory, where his name is associated with Calderbank-Short-Steane codes, and to Sensing and Sparse Reconstruction, an area in which he started working whilst at Princeton. Overall his papers have been cited over 30,000 times, according to Google Scholar, and his work continues to have widespread impact. It has led to the award of 20 US patents with several relating to his work on the V.34 modem standard and to his work on space-time coding.

Robert's own research informed his research leadership at AT&T where he was responsible for the first major research centre, worldwide, which focussed on “Big Data" for business and network applications, positioning AT&T to exploit the technology stemming from the internet and from wireless communication. He also managed AT&T intellectual property and, in particular, was responsible for licensing revenue. In 2004 he took his wide-ranging talents back into academia.

In Princeton he was the architect of scheme which doubled the number of mathematics undergraduates, and he was Director of the inter-disciplinary Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics in a period culminating in its ranking as the number 1 US PhD program in applied mathematics. He is now Dean of Natural Sciences at Duke University where his wide-ranging talents are bringing new ways of doing research, and maximizing its impact.

As you might expect, Robert has received numerous awards and honours for his many contributions to science and engineering: he was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering in 2005; he is a fellow of the IEEE (1995), AT&T (2000), the American Mathematical Society (2013) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013). He was awarded the IEEE Millennium Medal in 2000, the IEEE Hamming Medal in 2013 and has three IEEE “best paper" awards to his name. We are pleased to be able to award him an honorary degree, in recognition of his impressive contributions to mathematics and its applications, and with particular pleasure because of his position as one of our own Mathematics graduates. Mr Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, Professor Robert Calderbank.

This oration was written by Professor Andrew Stuart, Warwick Mathematics Institute.

Gregory Doran: Hon DLitt (3.00pm Ceremony on Friday, 18 July 2013)

Mister Chancellor, Ladies and Gentlemen…Not only is it a great privilege for me to welcome this afternoon’s honorary graduand - almost certainly the pre-eminent Shakespearean director of his generation; but it is also a great personal pleasure for me, because I have known Gregory Doran for more than thirty years. We met near the start of my earlier career, in the theatre. In 1982, we were young actors in the Nottingham Playhouse Company, although we acted in the same production there only once, in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. I can’t remember which part Greg played…in fact, it was so long ago, I can’t remember which part I played. Suffice to say that Greg always played the handsome young men. And I always played the less good-looking ones.

If you had asked me, back then, whether I thought that more than thirty years later, I would be standing on the stage of the Butterworth Hall, as a Professor at the University of Warwick, welcoming Gregory Doran into our academic community, I probably would have replied: “No, I don’t think so”. But if you had asked me, back then, whether I thought that more than thirty years later, Greg would be the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, I would have replied without hesitation…“Yes!” If I may be allowed one further reference to that Nottingham Playhouse production of Antony and Cleopatra, all those years ago - in “My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood” – one of our performances we did exclusively for secondary school children. Just before the play began, the director came onto the stage, and spoke to the audience of youngsters…a kind of pre-match talk. He said something like this…“You are about to watch one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays…It is very long…You may find parts of it quite boring.” You can imagine how that went down with the audience of adolescents.

Greg’s productions of Shakespeare – and that includes a great production for the RSC of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter – are anything but boring. They are suffused with passion, wit, searing intelligence…and love. Love of the theatre, love of his actors, and love – of course - of Shakespeare. To attain the level of success in the theatre which Greg manifestly has, you need more than great talent, outstanding skill, stoical powers of endurance, and boundless stamina…all of which attributes, it goes without saying, Greg has in abundance. You need also to love the theatre with uninhibited intensity. The productions that Greg has directed for the Royal Shakespeare Company are evidence of that intense love affair. Greg joined the RSC as an actor, in 1987, and a very good actor he was too. I can attest to that. But it was always clear to me, and it soon became clear to the RSC, that his greater talent was for directing. He was appointed Assistant Director at the RSC in 1989, rapidly gaining promotion to Associate Director, Chief Associate Director, and, since September 2012, the ultimate and richly deserved accolade: Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

It’s a cliché, I know, but the memorable Shakespearean productions that Greg has directed, really are almost too numerous to mention. I vividly remember his astonishing productions of Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and – way back – King John. In all of these productions, for the audience, it was like discovering the plays for the first time – and that is one of your great skills, Greg...to re-discover and re-present the humanity, the theatricality, and the sheer emotional power of these amazing plays. The list of great productions that Greg has directed for the RSC really does go on and on, and (I am glad to say) will do for many, many years to come. In fact Greg, I wondered if you could use your influence to get me a ticket for your forthcoming production of Richard II, starring David Tennant…I can’t get one for love or money…and I just thought you might know someone who can.

It was entirely appropriate that in 2012 Greg should have been awarded the Sam Wanamaker Award by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in recognition of his outstanding work in increasing our understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare. Greg is no stranger to the upper echelons of British academia: he is an Honorary Fellow of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute; and currently, the Humanitas Visiting Professor in Drama, at that place off Junction 9 of the M40…the University of Oxford. And it is now Warwick’s turn to honour Greg, with the award of Honorary Doctor of Letters. It is my great pleasure this afternoon to welcome him on behalf of the University of Warwick, onto the stage of the Butterworth Hall. Mister Chancellor, I present for admission to the degree of Honorary Doctor of Letters, my friend and erstwhile colleague, the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Gregory Doran.

This oration was written by Professor Paul Raffield, School of Law.