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Honorary Graduand Orations - Summer 2014

Orations are published after the respective ceremony has taken place. 

Professor Malcolm Green: Hon DSC (11.00am ceremony on Monday, 14 July)

Malcolm Green is formerly Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Head of that Department at Oxford. He is one of the world’s leading scientists. His research has changed the way we think about the molecular world and has led to new sustainable ways of producing vitally important fuels and chemicals.

At school, Malcolm was advised against going to university, but an industrial researcher at ICI recognized his spark told him to get a degree. This remarkable academic career was thus launched at Acton Technical College.

As a graduate student at Imperial College in the late 1950s, Malcolm was to become a pivotal figure in a new area of science – organometallic chemistry. As Warwick chemistry graduates know, his work would lead to fundamental breakthroughs in metallocene chemistry which underpin the modern production of many plastics.

His early work at Oxford focussed on the carbon-hydrogen bond. This is a basic building block in much of the material around us, including all known forms of life. Malcolm realised that the ability to selectively break this bond would lead to efficient and useful chemistry. He demonstrated in 1971 a phenomenon that is now called carbon-hydrogen bond activation. Since that time, research groups around the world have endeavored to convert this basic science into a practical process, and nowadays, as we get closer, entire conferences are dedicated to the field. In the near future many important molecules for the pharmaceutical and other industries will be manufactured using this concept.

Later, Malcolm saw that a more subtle carbon-hydrogen bond chemistry could also be important. Rather than breaking the bond, it could act as if it were a finger, gently touching a nearby metal atom and modifying the chemistry of both. He discovered striking examples of these new bonds, which he named “agostic” – a word that is now in the Oxford English Dictionary. Once agostic bonds were identified, scientists started finding them everywhere, and they are now an essential part of the way we describe the world of molecules.

In 1990 Malcolm Green moved into the field of heterogeneous catalysis. The chemistry he discovered produces clean fuels in very small, highly efficient plants. In 2012 British Airways invested half a billion £ in a project to convert rubbish into jet fuel. This plant, appropriately called GreenSky London, is now under construction. In the near future, that ‘plane you take out of town will be fuelled by Green chemistry.

Malcolm’s vast canon of research – over 730 papers, or an amazing one per month over an entire career – is underpinned by a great number of collaborations, but perhaps the greatest is that with his wife Jenny Green. Jenny is also a professor at Oxford and we also welcome her to Warwick today. Many of us who have worked with Malcolm also had the great pleasure of working with Jenny, and our work would not have been complete without her practical and intellectual insight.

Malcolm has supervised 140 PhD students, and over 60 of his past co-workers have secured tenured academic positions at universities in 21 different countries. That is a spectacular and continuing contribution to the future of this central science.

He is an inspiring teacher and a flamboyant and often hilarious lecturer, but in my view his greatest influence in education will come from his development of a new way of describing chemical compounds – a new taxonomy – called the Covalent Bond Classification. Our own undergraduates have described it as “making much more sense than the traditional method”, and there can be no better recommendation than that. He has championed the introduction of innovative new teaching experiments, and it is fitting that today he will officially open our new state-of-the-art undergraduate laboratory.

In 2014 we say that universities should do fundamental research that will lead to real Impact for the economy and society. There can be no better leadership in this respect than that demonstrated by our honorary graduate, Professor Malcolm Green.

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

This oration was written by Professor Peter Scott, Department of Chemistry.

Professor Steven Katz: Hon DLitt (3.00pm ceremony on Monday, 14 July)

Mr Vice Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Professor Steven Katz.

Steven Katz is a world-renowned scholar of both Holocaust and post-Holocaust analysis, where he stresses the unique intentionality of the Nazi genocide, and Jewish philosophy and mysticism, where his insistence on contextualist understanding has generated a whole Katzian school of thought.

Steven is not a stranger to our shores. He is a multiple graduate of Cambridge University, where he was the first Jewish scholar in 700 years to receive that university’s Bachelor of Divinity degree. Just as significantly, his baseball prowess led him to become the wicket-keeper for the cricket team of Jesus College. But higher even than these accomplishments is the defining fact that it was at Cambridge that he had the good fortune to meet his future wife.

Until very recently, Professor Katz was Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University, one of Warwick’s strategic partners. Here he continues to hold the Alvin J. and Shirley Slater Chair in Jewish and Holocaust Studies, having previously taught at Dartmouth and been Professor, Chair and Director at Cornell. The many universities at which he has additionally held a visiting post include Yale, Harvard, California at Santa Barbara, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, the University of Pennsylvania, Yeshiva University, the University of Cape Town, the University of New South Wales, Shandong, and most certainly not last or least the University of Warwick, where in 2011 Steven was a Visiting Fellow at our Institute of Advanced Study. He has given hundreds of invited papers and special lectures in over 30 different countries, including recently even in Iran.

In addition to these globe-trotting activities as teacher and philosopher, Steven Katz has also somehow found time to be Chair of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Museum for five years (a committee on which he still serves), Chair of the Holocaust Commission of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, one of the American representatives to the International Task Force on the Holocaust, Chair of the Fellowship Committee of the Claims Conference, and Academic Adviser to the thirty-one countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, in which role he advises government officials of many countries (including the UK) on Holocaust education and curricula.

If all this were not enough, his essential publications span a forty-year period, and run from the 1975 Jewish Philosophers to the multi-volume The Holocaust in Historical Context, volumes two, three and four being forthcoming with Oxford University Press, as well as the jointly edited Post-Holocaust France and the Jews 1945-1955, which will appear soon with New York University Press. He has contributed to and edited important books on mysticism, the impact of the Holocaust on Jewish thought, and other forms of reappraisal. In addition to publishing in the region of 120 articles, Steven Katz is also editor of the prestigious journal Modern Judaism, member of half a dozen editorial boards, Fellow of both the American Academy of Jewish Research and the Academy of Jewish Philosophy, and editorial team member of The Cambridge History of Judaism and The Cambridge History of Nineteenth Century Religious Thought. He is both a recipient of the University of Tübingen’s Lucas Prize, and a multiple winner of the National Jewish Book Award.

Clearly then, Steven Katz is both an expert scholar and an indefatigable educator and advocate. This dual aspect recalls his contextualist insistence that even mysticism has a dialectical character, is always culturally coloured, and can oscillate between innovative and traditional positions. In similar vein, the work of Steven Katz is social as well as hermeneutic, and upholds both the respected traditions of learning and the exploratory dialogues of its renewal.

In sum, the principled and humane scholarship of Steven Katz, combined with his good humour, tireless dedication and generous encouragement, inspire a true fellowship of intelligence. Mr Vice Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I therefore present for Admission to the Degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Professor Steven Katz.

This oration was written by Professor Seán Hand, Professor of French Studies.

Mr Tarell Alvin McCraney: Hon DLitt (3.00pm ceremony on Monday, 14 July)

What do we need playwrights for? Aristophanes tells us: ‘To save the city of course.’ Saving the city is the playwright, Tarell McCraney’s business too, but the city he’s saving isn’t exactly the one Aristophanes had in mind in 5th century BCE Athens. Rather, it’s a notional city, triangulated between London, Chicago and his hometown, Miami, with spurs connecting New York to the Yoruba of West Africa. Its citizens are ones McCraney gives voice to, brothers and sisters long marginalized, still, in cultural representation in an America sixty years on from Rosa Parks’ revolutionary act of sitting down on a bus in Montgomery Alabama and forty-five years on from the Stonewall riots in Greenwich village. The first ignited the Civil Rights movement and black liberation, the second did the same for gay rights.

This is the American history McCraney has inherited, and these are the people he puts on stage: The Brothers Size, Ogun and Oshoosi, in back-water Louisiana, one keeping his nose clean running a jalopy fix’er up auto repair shop; the other, dodging white law, just out of prison, dreaming the American dream, still on the junk; the Choir Boy (or do we hear it as ‘queer boy’?), one Pharus, student at the all-black Drew Prep School, his gay-ness an open secret, using gospel singing and the ‘negro’ spiritual to adjust school (and other) politics. In American Trade McCraney writes about male prostitution, his central character a black New York rent boy who relocates his ‘trade’ to London. In Wig Out, his characters are straight, gay, cross-dressed, transgendered, ‘queer’, habitués of ‘The House of Light’, who ‘rework rules and create their own cosmology’, to dress up and compete in the ultimate cat-walk show of shows, a one-night only, hyper-glam Cinderella Drag Ball.

All of these characters are looking for ways of ‘fitting in’, and ‘fitting in’, imagining a space where you (whoever you are) can belong, is McCraney-the-playwright’s most profound study. He pursues it in a theatre language that hits the ear like poetry, and in music and dance that connect as much to the ancient, the mythic, the heartbeat, as to the moment, to what’s on the radio now. He’s a writer, writing of the everyday (which also includes the outrageously alternative) who writes of the soul and the spirit. He makes rituals on stages, stages that are almost bare except for his actors and the worlds they conjure from body and breath. For McCraney, words and gestures are equally physical. ‘Home’ and ‘love’ are his themes, the love of a brother, in prison, ‘Singing to hisself’ in the dark, ‘ “I want my brother …where my brother …” Gurgling it up out from under the tears … “My brother”’; the love described to McCraney by one of his heroes who once told him ‘that black men loving each other was a revolutionary act’.

I met Tarell McCraney first before he’d hit his thirtieth birthday, when he came to Warwick to the CAPITAL Centre that I was then directing as the International Playwright in Residence, shared between us and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was a young man who wore his political hopes on his body, the name of a presidential candidate shaved into his scalp. Students who worked with him pronounced him ‘probably the most beautiful human being they were likely ever to meet’. He could talk about growing up in the poverty-wasted projects of Miami’s Liberty City; about his mother dying of her drug addiction; about the best friend and inseparable mate who called him ‘faggot’, aged nine – and hasn’t spoken to him since; about his adolescent self ‘saved’ by theatre and education, when he had the great good fortune of attending the New World School of the Arts High School then Yale Univeristy where the raw material of his innate elegance was shaped and sophisticated. And he can emerge from those accounts of who he is with a wide smile and a big laugh, not scarred by history but prepped to make something with it. A notional city, perhaps. Filled with citizens who’ll quote that aforementioned presidential candidate (who might have been quoting McCraney): ‘Yes we can!’

Since graduating from Yale School of Drama’s playwriting programme in 2007 Tarell McCraney has won a string of awards, including, in 2008, in London, the Evening Standard Award for most promising playwright and, in just the last two years, the Windham Campbell Literary Award for Drama, the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Award’, and the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award.

For me, though, in my capacity as ‘professional Shakespearean’, his greatest achievements have been his collaborations as writer and producer with a playwright now nearly 400 years dead: a 70-minute ‘Young Persons’ version of Hamlet that McCraney edited and directed for the RSC to tour to UK schools, that staged the pirate scene that Shakespeare ‘forgot’ to write and that elsewhere showed the Prince falling in love with Ophelia, his love letter wafting across the stage into her hand, propelled by a flapping umbrella; and, last year, a radical cut of Antony and Cleopatra that set the play in 1791 Haiti at the time of the Saint-Domingue slave revolt, and that put on the RSC stage for the first time the Cleopatra Shakespeare wrote, the black queen of the ‘tawny front’ who’s both the ‘gipsy’ ‘boggler’ and the ‘lass unparallel’d’ . It was sensational.

I asked to begin with, ‘What do we need playwrights for?’ We need them to talk to us about who we are – and who we might be. In today’s theatre, nobody is doing that job better than Tarell McCraney.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Tarell McCraney.

This oration was written by Professor Carol Rutter, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies.

Professor Richard Parry-Jones CBE, FREng: Hon DSc (11.00am ceremony on Tuesday, 15 July)

Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, graduands and graduates.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Richard Parry-Jones. He is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading automotive engineers, having directed and influenced the development of over 70 vehicles, introducing numerous technical innovations, particularly in product safety and environmental performance. He is lauded in the UK for his role in Co-Chairing, with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the UK Automotive Council which is credited as driving the resurgence of the UK automotive industry.

Richard Parry-Jones was born in Bangor, North Wales and from an early age experienced the RAC Rally (now Rally GB) pass through the forest near his home. At the age of 12 he wrote to the Ford Motor Company to ask how he could become a car designer and engineer. This led to an over 40 year association with Ford, culminating in roles as Group Vice President, Chief Technical Officer and Head of Global Research and Development.

Ford sponsored his sandwich degree, combining periods at the company and at university and he graduated with a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Salford University in 1969. He immediately joined Ford as a Graduate Apprentice, benefiting from what he describes as a ‘wonderful, truly fantastic experience’ that gave him a real understanding of practical applications. He remains a great advocate of the hands-on experience that comes with an apprenticeship and, through his role on the Advisory Council of Liverpool John Moores University, helped to develop its World of Work programme, to enhance the employability of graduates.

He progressed through roles at Ford including Director of Vehicle Concepts Engineering in the United States and heading the manufacturing plant at Cologne in Germany, producing over 1,300 cars a day. He significantly influenced many of the vehicles that we have all experienced. In the mid 1990’s, he headed Ford’s small car European product development, leading the creation of models including the Focus, Ka, Fiesta and Puma. From 1998, he oversaw global product development as well as the design, research and vehicle technology functions. As Chief Technical Officer he headed a technical staff of 30,000 engineers, scientists, designers and business professionals across the globe, including the Ford, Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin brands.

His pioneering engineering was recognised in 1997 when he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, which he now serves as a Vice President. His innovations include the ’50-metre test’ - rather than testing the vehicle at top speed he advocated that engineers drive slowly for 50 metres, sensing the subtleties of the vehicle’s dynamics, enabling understanding of 50-75% of the key strengths of a car. He was a pioneer in introducing many safety approaches to the industry, including electronic stability control systems and he led development of Ford’s low carbon technologies for over a decade. This included new technologies to remove over 500 kg from a 2.5 tonne vehicle, the introduction of small pressure-charged engines to save 25% of fuel and electrification / hybridisation technologies including the world’s first hybrid sports utility vehicle. In 2005, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the automobile industry.

In April 2008, he became the first Chair of the cross-industry New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team, which created a 20 year vision for the future of the UK automotive industry. The Team’s report, published in May 2009, set out a strategy for sustainable success, paying particular attention to the challenge of low cost competition and a transition to lower-carbon transport. In response to the report, the Government established the UK Automotive Council, with Richard Parry-Jones as the initial co-Chair, a role he retains to this day. He is Policy Advisor to the Welsh Assembly Government on economic development, manufacturing industrial policy, transport and energy and a member of the Council of Bangor University.

In July 2012 he became the Chairman of Network Rail; here he is drawn by the engineering challenge of the railways where another wave of technology can drive the ongoing transformation of the industry. With his typical hands-on approach, he spent time, prior to assuming his role, on the tracks at Manchester Piccadilly with the maintenance team to talk through the issues facing the industry. The same approach he had very successfully applied in the automotive sector over the previous forty years, leading to the accolade of ‘Man of the Year’ from the industry magazines Autocar and Automobile Magazine in the mid 1990s.

Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Richard Parry-Jones.

This oration was written by Professor Lord Kumar Battacharyya, Warwick Manufacturing Group.

Professor Subra Suresh: Hon DSc (11.00am ceremony on Tuesday, 15 July)

Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, graduands and graduates.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Subra Suresh, one of the world’s top materials scientists, a highly cited scholar who is one of the few living Americans to be elected a member of all three branches of the United States National Academies, in recognition of his pioneering contributions to engineering, sciences and medicine. His research, into the properties of engineered and biological materials and their connections to human diseases, has been published in more than 300 research articles, 21 patents and three books.

Internationally, he is an elected member of academies in China, Germany, India, Spain and Sweden, the recipient of national awards, e.g. the national Padma Shri presented by the President of India and scientific awards e.g. the Benjamin Franklin Medal (‘for outstanding contributions to our understanding of the mechanical behaviour of materials in applications ranging from large structures down to the atomic level….’), the SP Timoshenko Medal (‘pioneering contributions and visionary leadership in the field of the mechanics of biological materials and the development of novel experimental techniques and multi-scale models for living systems and infectious diseases …’) and the Robert Mehl Medal (‘for outstanding contributions to fatigue of materials, thin film science, biomechanics and materials education.’)

Professor Suresh’s publications have enabled significant impact. He was selected in 2011 as one of the 100 top global materials scientists with the highest impact from scientific citations during the decade 2000-2010 (Science Watch / Thomson Reuters) and was selected by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) as a highly cited scholar in the area of Materials Science and Engineering. His published research work has over 19,000 citations, in addition to over 4,000 citations for other authored publications. More than 100 students, post-doctoral fellows and visiting scientists have been trained in his research group and he has delivered several hundred keynote, plenary and invited lectures at major international conferences and technical meetings.

He combines scientific excellence with strategic leadership in research, education and knowledge transfer. These skills led to him being appointed in 2013 as the ninth President of Carnegie Mellon University, one of the world’s leading universities, operating from a home base in Pittsburgh, USA. Since assuming the presidency, Dr Suresh has launched significant initiatives, including the Simon Initiative to seamlessly connect efforts to improve outcomes from technology-enhanced learning, an area in which Carnegie Mellon excels. I am very pleased that our two universities have instigated a broad research collaboration through which we will address major global challenges including advanced materials, big data, digital healthcare and autonomous systems.

His presidency of Carnegie Mellon University caps a rich research career which began in India where he graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1977. During his studies, he was awarded a National Merit Scholarship by the Government of India, scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate Student of Engineering (Sir C Ramasamy Foundation, Madras, India) and a TATA Scholarship (J N Tata Endowment).

In 1977 he commenced research in the USA, gaining a Masters at Iowa State University, followed by a Doctorate at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. His research awards included an Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment Award (U S Department of Energy), Presidential Young Investigator Award (National Science Foundation / The White House) and Ford Foundation Research Award.

In 1989, he became a Professor of Engineering at Brown University, followed by his first Professorial appointment at MIT. He subsequently became Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and then Dean of Engineering, both departments currently ranked first in the world in their disciplines.

Prior to becoming President of Carnegie Mellon, Professor Suresh was Director of the US National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency with an annual budget of $7 billion and a mandate to fund basic research and education in all fields of science and engineering. His accomplishments included the creation of the Innovation Corps, the Global Research Council, the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Initiative and the Science across Virtual Institutes Program. He was a member of the US National Science and Technology Committee and Co-Chair of its Science and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Education Committees. In his final year as Director, the National Science Foundation supported more than 300,000 individuals in 1,895 institutions.

Professor Suresh is currently Chair of the Global Research Council, which brings together Heads of Science and Engineering funding agencies with initial membership from G-20 and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. The Council coordinates practices to enhance international collaboration in science between developed and developing countries.

Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Subra Suresh.

This oration was written by Professor Lord Kumar Battacharyya, Warwick Manufacturing Group.

Professor Michael Doyle: Hon LLD (3.00pm ceremony on Tuesday, 15 July)

Professor Michael Doyle is the Harold Brown Professor of International Affairs, Law and Political Science in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He co-directs the Center on Global Governance at Columbia Law School. Professor Doyle is the pioneer of “Democratic Peace Theory”, the idea that democratic states are less inclined to fight each other. This is one of the most important ideas in international relations and has become more popularly known as ‘Doyle’s law’. Doyle, drawing Kant's ideas, argued that a peaceful union of liberal states has been growing for the past two centuries.

Doyle argues that a pair of states will not be peaceful simply because they are both liberal democracies. Liberal democracy is also necessary condition for international organization and international hospitality – and all three together can promote peace. In short, Michael Doyle has been one of the most important and sophisticated thinkers to address the question “How do we make the world more peaceful”?

Michael Doyle completed his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1977. Previously he has taught at the University of Warwick, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and Yale University.

He has also written widely on the comparative history of empires and the evaluation of UN peace-keeping. In a highly distinguished academic career, Professor Doyle has written and edited over a dozen books. His publications include Liberal Peace; Ways of War and Peace; U.N. Peacekeeping in Cambodia: UNTAC's Civil Mandate; Striking First: Preemption and Prevention in International Conflict; Making War and Building Peace, Alternatives to Monetary Disorder; Keeping the Peace; Peacemaking and Peacekeeping for the New Century; New Thinking in International Relations Theory; and The Globalization of Human Rights. He has also published important articles in scholarly journals including "Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs: Parts I and II," in Philosophy and Public Affairs (1983) – one of the most highly cited articles in his field.

Michael Doyle is exemplary of academics who have had a beneficial impact in the real world. If you are an engineer designing better bridges or a bio-chemist designing new medicines, impact comes fairly naturally. But it is rare for a political theorist to achieve similar traction. Michael is one of those rare people. From 2001 to 2003, Professor Doyle served as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. His responsibilities in the Secretary-General's Executive Office included strategic planning (the "Millennium Development Goals"), outreach to the international corporate sector (the "Global Compact"), and relations with Washington. He is the former chair of the Academic Council of the United Nations Community. From 2006 to 2013 he served as an individual member, and the chair of the U.N. Democracy Fund.

In recognition of this work he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society and received the Charles Merriam Award of the American Political Science Association. The Merriam Award is given biennially "to a person whose published work and career represent a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research." In 2011, he received the American Political Science Association Hubert H. Humphrey Award "in recognition of notable public service by a political scientist." In 2012, he was inducted into the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Warwick University has recently become a UN Impact University and works to promote research on themes that the UN considers important. It has many researchers across all faculties that are committed to peaceful and humanitarian goals. It is therefore especially fitting that we should salute one of the pioneers of research on peace. In addition, Professor Doyle embodies the University of Warwick’s pioneering spirit and willingness to challenge conventional thinking. We recognise and commend his path breaking research in global affairs which has revolutionised his field and helped to shape our understanding of human behaviour, the international system and importance of peace.

Mr Vice Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for Admission to the Degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, Professor Michael Doyle.

This oration was written by Professor Richard J Aldrich, Department of Politics and International Studies.

Mr Gautam Banerjee: Hon LLD (11.00am ceremony on Wednesday, 16 July)

Gautam Banerjee is Senior Managing Director and Co-Chairman of the Asia Operating Committee of the Blackstone Group, based in Singapore. Blackstone is one of the world’s largest alternative asset management and advisory firms and is a global leader in each one of its businesses. Mr Banerjee has worked with the firm to drive its strategy and help develop its businesses in this vibrant region of the world.

As Dean of Warwick Business School, it gives me particularly great pleasure to present for the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws a distinguished WBS alumnus who graduated from our own Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance programme. I can think of no finer role model to the graduates of 2014 than Mr Gautam Banerjee.

As well as his senior role at Blackstone, Mr Banerjee is also a Vice Chairman of the Singapore Business Federation and is a Board member of the Economic Development Board, the APEC Business Advisory Council, Yale-NUS College, Singapore Airlines and The Straits Trading Company. He has also served on the Corporate Governance Council of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Companies Act Reform Steering Committee. Mr Banerjee is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Singapore.

After graduating from Warwick, Mr Banerjee started his career with Touche Ross and Co in London in 1977 as an audit assistant and then moved up to become an audit supervisor. Mr Banerjee joined PwC Singapore in April 1982 after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in London and was admitted to the partnership of PwC in 1989. He then led various business units in the firm, including its largest business unit, the Assurance practice and spent a considerable number of years with the firm in various leadership roles in Singapore, India and East Asia, and was responsible for some of its largest clients such as Temasek and Singapore Telecom. He also contributed significantly to the development of PwC Singapore from a predominantly audit and tax practice to a multidisciplinary professional services firm with capabilities in Risk Management, Corporate Finance and other business advisory services in Banking and Capital Markets, Telecommunications and Technology.

Mr Banerjee was also the Chief Operating Officer for PwC Eastern Cluster, which includes China, Australia, Japan, Korea and South East Asia, and a member of the global firm’s Strategy Council, and served as the interim Chairman of PwC India in 2009-2010 and as Executive Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Singapore for nine years until December 2012.

Mr Banerjee assumed a significant new external role when he became a Nominated Member of Parliament in Singapore from 2007 to 2009. As an NMP, his main agenda was to speak on issues which enhance Singapore's competitiveness as an emerging global city of opportunity. He has been particularly passionate about Singapore's need to not only retain its own talent but to attract the best and brightest from overseas.

Gautam Banerjee embodies the pioneering spirit, passion, determination and sense of social responsibility, together with a blend of self-confidence and humility, that is the hallmark of Warwick alumni. Without doubt, Mr Chancellor, Mr Banerjee has ‘the Warwick gene’, and we are proud to be able to honour him in this way at our Summer Degree Congregation.

Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, Gautam Banerjee.

This oration was written by Professor Mark Taylor, Warwick Business School.

Ms Alexandra Pringle: Hon DLitt (3.00pm ceremony on Wednesday, 16 July)

Mr Chancellor:

Universities these days are often talked about in terms of brands. I’m not sure the analogy works – it treats a university as if it produced potato crisps or canned drinks; even as if it consisted of them. Among the problems with thinking of a university as a brand is the value a brand puts on sameness. One can of Coke has to be exactly the same as another - that’s what the Coca Cola brand means. But sameness – conformity – is the opposite of what we want from members of a university, whether students or teachers. Or from writers – which is where Alexandra Pringle comes in.

There are many links and similarities between universities and publishers but the language good publishers use is different. First, what distinguishes one publisher from another is called its ‘list’: a list of the individual titles it has published. And what identifies this list is not a brand name, but the name of a publishing house. A house: I’ll come back to that word.

Alexandra Pringle’s first job in publishing was at Virago. A virago is an angry woman, and the publishing house called Virago was begun in 1973 by women who were angry that some great women writers weren’t getting their due. In those days Virago mainly reissued works by British and American women writers of the recent past, but it also began to find and publish new writers and from 1978 on that was part of Alexandra’s job. Virago has a distinct identity but you wouldn’t call it a brand. Its writers are as unlike each other as can be; that is part of the point of writing. Virago is a house: a home for writers and their work, somewhere which, like any house worth the name, offers shelter and nourishment and affection and protection to its occupants.

In the middle ages, a college, too, was known as a house: domus. A college was a house in which a family of teachers and students worked together on matters not necessarily much understood in the harsh outside world; matters whose profitability wasn’t measured in money. As in almost any family living in any house, there were disagreements and quarrels. People sometimes shouted at each other, doors were slammed, feelings got hurt. But what made the academic family a family, what made its house a house worth living in, were shared values, mutual protection, and tolerance.

Even in a profession of individualists, Alexandra Pringle’s individuality has always stood out. She began her career in the art world – not a place where conformity takes you far. She is now Group Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury, another independent publishing house which has helped sustain the highest cultural values. Bloomsbury is a big house. J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter books were among its first successes. The writers on Alexandra’s list include William Boyd, Kamila Shamsie, Barbara Trapido, Michele Roberts, Richard Ford. There’s a separate academic division which publishes specialist works by and for academics - another link with universities. Warwick University has a series of its own, Warwick Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, which Bloomsbury publishes; distinguished individual Bloomsbury authors on the academic side include our colleague Thomas Docherty. Bloomsbury operates all over the world. Yet Alexandra never loses sight of the individual. The last time she visited the Warwick campus, she had come to talk to a couple of dozen students taking our MA in Writing – the latest generation of whom have just graduated (congratulations to them, and good luck- and to everyone graduating this week). As I drove her here from Coventry station, that day, she mentioned in passing that she had just become Bloomsbury’s Global Editor-in-Chief, adding the New York office – and, soon, one in Delhi - to her responsibilities. Some people might have thought that if they were running a worldwide business and had recently been given an additional role across the Atlantic, travelling to Coventry to meet a bunch of students wouldn’t really be worth their while. This clearly hadn’t even crossed Alexandra’s mind.

Good publishers want to find and support courageous, original, vivid writers and part of this commitment, in Alexandra’s case, takes the form of having started a new list, Bloomsbury Circus, which she describes as ‘unapologetically literary, often experimental and utterly international’. As the idea of a circus suggests, Alexandra enjoys books and writers – she likes fun and communicates it. Not everything in life can be fun, though. Alexandra is a patron, a former trustee, of Index on Censorship, one of the most effective of the organizations that defend freedom of expression throughout the world. You’ll be aware, Mr Chancellor, that there are worries about the health of this ideal, and particularly about evidence that universities are not only failing to protect it but actually joining in the attack. I know of one university – not this one - where a critical discussion of official policy published on an academic department’s website was taken down by the university administration because it might damage ‘the brand’. I’ve even read and heard reports that infringements of intellectual liberty have recently occurred here at Warwick, too. Now, no one has asked to read my speech in advance and I’m fairly confident that the mikes aren’t about to be switched off. I’m also out of touch: it’s a year since I left Warwick to go freelance (other people call it retired), so I could be wrong. Still, there have been press reports about someone not being allowed to give a talk on the campus. Can this be true? And a story about a professor being prevented by the University from writing a preface for a new book published – yes - by Bloomsbury, who are also his own publishers. I hope I’ve got this wrong. Above all, I hope that – as Chancellor and also as a distinguished former journalist – you will find out, and will make sure that if it is true, it won’t happen again.

In this connection as well as others, it seems a good sign that Alexandra Pringle is here today. Among the authors she publishes is the philosopher A.C.Grayling, who, both as a thinker and as head of a new university, independent of state control, shares her concern for intellectual and imaginative freedom. Professor Grayling recently wrote to me on this topic, and Alexandra’s relation to it, and said I could quote his words today:

Publishers are among the foremost guardians of freedom of expression, and Alexandra's maieutic status - bringing to birth so much literature: commissioning it, nurturing it, tending it into the light - lies at the very core of free expression.

Without freedom of expression [Professor Grayling continued] one cannot claim other liberties, or defend them when they are attacked. Without freedom of expression one cannot have a democratic process which requires the statement and testing of policy proposals. Without freedom of expression one cannot have a due process at law in which one can defend oneself, collect and examine evidence, make a case or refute one. Without freedom of expression there cannot be genuine education and research, enquiry, debate, exchange of information, challenges to falsehood, questioning of governments, proposal and examination of opinion. Without freedom of expression there cannot be a flourishing literature. In short, without freedom of expression there is no freedom worth the name.

Mr Chancellor, it’s an honour and a great personal pleasure for me, on behalf of the Senate, to present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa, a great British publisher, a defender of freedom of expression and of artistic fun and individuality, my friend Alexandra Pringle.

This oration was written by Emeritus Professor Jeremy Treglown, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies.

Ms Vivian Hunt: Hon LLD (11.00am ceremony on Thursday, 17 July)

Vivian Hunt is the Managing Partner for McKinsey & Company in the United Kingdom and Ireland, having previously served as the Head of its Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products Practice for Europe, Middle East, and Africa). McKinsey & Company is one of the world’s best known firms of management consultants. She has lived in the UK for 17 years and holds both British and American citizenship. Her extended family lives around Atlanta, Georgia but Vivian was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and spent her formative years in Boston.

She attended the Concord Academy in Boston and moved on to Harvard where she graduated in Sociology and Government (cum laude) in 1989. Harvard must have been quite good (or perhaps WBS was full) because she went on to read for her MBA there in due course. She had many international experiences while at Harvard and formed lifelong bonds with international students. At the same time Harvard also shaped her interest in non-profit areas of healthcare.

So it can’t be a coincidence that, after being shaped by Higher Education, Vivian went on to train as a midwife, joined the Peace Corp and worked in rural Senegal. There she worked without consistent electricity, minimal primary care, and a team that was overwhelmed by its workload. She persevered and managed to produce lasting improvements for the local health community. You might think that such experience of a low-income setting would not be relevant to healthcare in industrialised nations but you would be wrong – the stark choice of how best to spend a health dollar, against a backdrop of enormous demand, could not be more relevant today.

By the end of her Peace Corps service she was committed to a future in healthcare and she went on to lead the launch of a Medicaid care plan in New York City – where such stark economic choices faced her, just as they face the NHS today. In due course, no doubt after many ups-and-downs, she took the role leading the European pharmaceuticals and medical products group at McKinsey. This is now one of McKinsey’s largest and fastest growing practice areas. Vivian's primary focus serves leading pharmaceutical companies on a broad range of strategy, development, and organisational topics. She has also worked on post-merger integration in a number of recent global pharmaceutical transactions.

In January, Vivian was asked to serve as the Managing Partner for McKinsey in the UK and Ireland, the second largest standalone office in the Firm. More recently, Vivian was invited to join the Shareholder’s Committee, which is the global governing body within McKinsey.

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous tells me that these huge responsibilities notwithstanding, she remains a big believer in retail therapy – especially shoes and handbags.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Vivian continues to publish and present at conferences on health care topics that are compulsory reading for NHS chief executives including: strategy, alternative operating models, innovative growth strategies, and consumerism in health care. It would not surprise me if the early experiences in Senegal continue to shape some of her thinking.

Vivian has a passion for inclusion of talented people, no matter their background or race, in public life in both the UK and the US and this, it seems to me, has driven much of her charitable work: She chairs The Powerlist Committee which compiles the annual list of the most influential Britons of African and African-Caribbean descent (and indeed she has herself been voted the most Influential Black Woman in the UK). She is a Trustee and board member for The Henry Smith Charity which makes grants of around £25 million annually to organisations that address social inequality and economic disadvantage. She is a Trustee and Co-Chair of Action on Addiction which seeks to prevent, and treat people with addiction, while also leading research and education programmes into this problem.


This oration was written by Professor Peter Winstanley (Warwick Medical School).

Mr Matthew Taylor: Hon LLD (3.00pm ceremony on Thursday, 17 July)

Mr Chancellor

The RSA – the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, to give it its full name – is one of the UK’s most venerable institutions. Founded in 1754, the RSA has consistently acted as a source of new thinking and a force for social change: its keyword throughout its history has been ‘enlightenment’. I am delighted to introduce to this afternoon’s Congregation the Chief Executive of the RSA, Matthew Taylor.

I should perhaps explain that being awarded a degree – albeit an honorary degree – from the University of Warwick is not a novelty for Matthew. He is already a Warwick alumnus, having completed an MA in Industrial Relations here in 1983-85. He also has strong connections with our local region: he was elected to Warwickshire County Council in 1985, serving as chair for the Schools Committee. Later, he returned to Warwick Business School as a Research Fellow, examining the effect of European integration on public services and the strategic management of political change in local government. So no stranger to Warwick, then – though I suspect he may today be feeling somewhat bemused by the changes that have taken place on campus in the last 20 years!

Before his appointment to the RSA, Matthew’s career was primarily in politics. In the 1992 general election, he fought Warwick and Leamington on behalf of the Labour Party and succeeded in pulling Labour up into second place. Subsequently, he moved to the centre of Labour’s electioneering organisation. In the 1997 general election victory, he was the Party’s Campaign Co-ordinator, then Director of Policy: he played an important part in drawing up the Party’s manifesto and its ‘pledge card’, and in developing the Excalibur rapid rebuttal database that was used to campaign against the Conservative party. He also became Assistant Secretary of the Labour Party, a role which he held until 1998.

In 1999, Matthew became Director of Britain’s leading centre-left think tank, the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research). He did much to raise the IPPR’s profile during his four years there, particularly through his appearances on current affairs programmes such as Newsnight. He also contributed to its research and publications – for example, in 2002 he co-authored a report on the state funding of political parties. In 2001, the IPPR won the prestigious Prospect Think Tank of the Year Award.

Subsequently, Matthew returned to strategic work for the Labour party. He was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair to head the No 10 Policy Unit, and was charged with drawing up the manifesto for the May 2005 general election. Following the re-election of the Labour Government, he became Chief Adviser on Strategy to the Prime Minister, and was involved in initiatives to engage the public more closely with the political process, including the development of Labour’s ‘Big Conversation’ discussion forums.

Then, in November 2006, he moved to the RSA. Matthew’s tenure as Chief Executive has seen the Society substantially increase its output of research and innovation, focusing on public service and communities; learning and creativity; enterprise, design and manufacture. New routes have been devised to support charitable initiatives of its 26,000 Fellows, including crowd funding – an emerging low-cost way of mobilising money and networks for social innovations and enterprises. The Society has developed a global profile as a platform for ideas, and has created broad, multi-disciplinary networks that enable it to identify emerging challenges and to spot and nurture new and powerful ideas.

Meanwhile, Matthew continues to be a regular media commentator on policy and political issues. He has appeared on the Today Programme, Daily Politics and Newsnight, has written and presented several Radio Four documentaries and is a panellist on the programme Moral Maze. He has written for newspapers including the FT, Guardian and Observer and journals including Management Today and the Municipal Journal; he also regularly posts on his RSA blog site. It is a great pleasure to welcome Matthew back to Warwick today.

Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Matthew Taylor.

This oration was written by Professor Ann Caesar (Pro-Vice-Chancellor (50th Anniversary)).

Professor Nigel Hitchin FRS: Hon DSc (11.00am ceremony on Friday, 18 July)

Nigel James Hitchin is one of the world's foremost geometers. His work occupies a unique place on the frontier between differential and algebraic geometry and mathematical physics. His influence has been enormous, his remarkable succession of highly original scientific work being widely cited across many different branches of mathematics.

Professor Hitchin is Savillian Professor of Geometry at the University of Oxford, in which university he did his undergraduate and graduate studies and where he has spent the greater part of his career. In 1990, lured away from his position as a Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford, Hitchin took up a chair in the Mathematics Department at Warwick. Four years later, in 1994 he left Warwick to become Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in Cambridge, returning to Oxford as Savillian Professor in 1997. In 1991, during his time at Warwick, Hitchin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Hitchin's work is that of a pure mathematician and yet much of it has been inspired by problems which originate in physics. Indeed he has often alerted the mathematical community to the profound mathematical interest of geometrical problems that had previously only been considered by physicists. Many of the equations of mathematical physics are written down in terms of differential equations which describe fields (states existing everywhere) in terms of differential equations. Some of Hitchin's important most work investigates the set of all possible solutions to such equations and shows they are beautifully described in terms of algebraic geometric objects. His insights have led him to solutions which required both virtuoso technical skill and the latest mathematical techniques. In his own words, Hitchin "generally seeks to learn about an area of mathematics by seeing how it impinges on a particular problem which might by itself seem unimportant (the 'Miss Marple' approach)"; good advice for any aspiring mathematicians here today.

Hitchin's fundamental ideas have opened entirely new areas of research. He is famous for his work on bundles on Riemann surfaces and has played a key role in the exploration of four-dimensional Riemannian geometry. He has made foundational contributions to the theories of self-dual manifolds,four dimensional Einstein manifolds and Kähler geometry, to name but a few. Without giving a lengthy course on pure mathematics, some impression of the breadth of his work can be seen from the large number of mathematical constructs which bear his name: among them Hitchin equations, the Hitchin fibration, the Hitchin map, Hitchin systems and the Hitchin component. In 1987 he introduced a mathematical object called a Higgs bundle, so named because of its close relationship to equations which describe particles like the Higgs boson, whose existence was famously confirmed at CERN in 2012, heralded by the media as the ''God Particle''.

Aside from his fundamental research, Hitchin has played a leading role in the mathematical life of the UK. He is known for his calm and modest manner and the quiet efficiency with which he works, and for his commitment and energy in supporting and promoting the mathematical life of the country on many fronts. He was President of the London Mathematical Society 1994 -1996 and was on the Council of the Royal Society 2002-2004. He undertook the heavy responsibility of chairing the Mathematics panel for RAE 2001 and the even greater responsibility of chairing the 2008 RAE main panel for the combined mathematical sciences (pure and applied mathematics, statistics and operational research).

Among his many distinctions, Professor Hitchin was the recipient of the London Mathematical Society's senior Berwick Prize (1990), its Sylvester Medal (2000), and its Pólya Prize (2002). He has delivered numerous series of distinguished lectures and is an honorary fellow of both Jesus College Oxford and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

It is with great pleasure that we add our recognition to the list of his honours today.

This oration was written by Professor Caroline Series (Institute of Mathematics).

Mr Douglas Miller: Hon LLD (3.00pm ceremony on Friday, 18 July)

It goes without saying that those honoured at these ceremonies are distinguished in their fields of expertise. Some will be known by name to almost all students. It is much rarer to present someone who is also known on a personal level to a number of the students, but that is the case with Doug Miller, whom we honour today.

Doug was born in Kansas, and graduated with honours from the University of Kansas in 1966, with a degree in International Relations and Economics. He served in the army for three years and obtained an MBA in 1971.

He then pursued a career in the finance industry, being appointed to senior positions in commercial lending, international leasing, investment banking and private equity. For the last 20 years, he has run his own company, International Private Equity Limited, which specialised in raising capital from institutional investors from 20 countries for private equity funds, raising over US$ 6.5 billion.

The figures are remarkable, but it is Doug’s philanthropic work that is truly impressive. He is the founder chairman of both the European Venture Philanthropy Association and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network. Together these organisations have over 340 members in 40 countries. He has been a personal start-up investor in a number of venture philanthropy funds in the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Estonia and India. He also has direct social enterprise investments in the UK and Mozambique. Other charitable activities include international development projects in South Asia, Africa and mine clearance projects in Vietnam, Laos, and Sri Lanka.

Among Warwick students, however, he will be best known for his support for the Multicultural Scholars’ Programme. Having previously set up a successful scheme at the University of Kansas, in 2005 he was the initiator of a similar Multicultural Scholars’ Programme at Warwick Law School. This programme has attracted nearly 80 students; 39 are now graduates and providing support in their turn, for which we are most grateful. The Programme was expanded in 2012 to the School of Business, which presently has 10 students in the programme. There are plans for further expansion into other schools at Warwick.

The success of the MSP is due to Doug's vision of an active scholarship that provides students with professional and cultural opportunities and requires scholars to actively engage in the programme and to provide support to each other. It is a programme that is open to the most brilliant students but a programme which also recognises that sometimes being clever is not enough. Doug has worked closely with academic members of staff to provide professional opportunities, fund new initiatives and just to talk through issues arising in the programme, always finding the right balance to ensure that the programme can be moulded to fit the department. He has taken a close and affectionate interest in all the scholars he has met, and that affection has been doubly reciprocated by the scholars themselves. He (and his wife Audrey) are considered to be not only kind and wise but also extremely ‘cool’! We are looking forward to celebrating our 10th Anniversary next year with Doug, our other sponsors and with alumni and present scholars.

Mr Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Douglas Miller.

This oration was written by Professor Rebecca Probert (School of Law).

Mr Martyn Day: Hon LLD (3.00pm ceremony on Friday, 18 July)

Mr Chancellor,

I am delighted to introduce to this afternoon’s Congregation Mr Martyn Day. Martyn is a Warwick Law Graduate, graduating with an LLB degree in July 1978. His legal career is, in part, a reflection of many of the values that came from studying a law degree defined by the Warwick Law School’s “law in context” approach. This approach emphasises an appreciation of a problem focused and critical understanding of legal issues; the values of fairness and fair procedures; an understanding of rights and respect for international law and principles of justice. Respect for fellow human beings irrespective of race, ethnicity or gender and a common touch that values empathy and understanding of the needs of clients are hall-marks of the Law School’s study of law in context. It is clear that these are also the features of Martyn’s distinguished and successful legal career- a remarkable achievement when the legal profession in the 1970s was considered, too often resistant to change and resolute in upholding legal rules, often for their own sake. Four years before Martyn graduated from Warwick Law School, the late Lord Scarman, a distinguished Law Lord and former Chancellor of the University in his Hamlyn Lectures for 1974, English Law- The New Dimension p.7., described the prevailing attitudes of many lawyers of the period:

The law is very much the esoteric business of lawyers. It is neither easily accessible nor easy to understand when found. It is resistant to change: encapsulated in the forensic process, jealously guarded by those tireless workers in the legal hive, the teachers and the practitioners, it can have no greater sensitivity to the winds let alone the gentle breezes of change than have the judges and the profession who administer it;

Today, Martyn Day is one of the most well- known and highly-regarded legal practitioner’s in the country and is the Senior Partner of Leigh Day and Co, an international law firm in the City of London. He trained with Colombotti and Partners, moved in 1981 to Clifford and Co and then to the civil rights practice, Bindman and Partners. He has said that he learned the tools of his trade through legal aid cases as well as developing his passion and determination to redress injustice and championing important causes to win compensation for many claimants. In 1987, with Sarah Leigh OBE, he set up Leigh Day and Co – a firm which now has 30 partners and some 250 staff. The firm’s ethos is to ensure that ordinary people have just as good a quality of legal advice as state bodies, insurers and multi-nationals: it specialises in representing individuals in the UK and abroad. Martyn is Head of the International Claims Team, which brings legal actions on behalf of people, mainly in the developing world, against multi-national corporations and the British government. Examples of Martyn’s work include negotiating settlements for approximately 1,300 Kenyans injured or killed by British army munitions; securing compensation for 52 Colombian farmers in a claim against BP for damage caused by the installation of an oil pipeline; acting on behalf of 30,000 Ivorians against Trafigura Limited following the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast; successfully representing the family of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi tortured and killed by British soldiers, and suing Shell on behalf of some 30,000 Nigerians following two very large oil spills in 2008. Surely an example to inspire this afternoon’s new graduates from Warwick Law School!

Martyn’s environmental interests have led to his involvement in both Greenpeace and CHEM Trust: he has been Chair of both of these bodies and is a Trustee of the Greenpeace Environmental Trust. He is an Executive Committee Member of the Society of Labour Lawyers and a Fellow of the Association of Professional Injury Lawyers. He is the co-author of Personal Injury Handbook; Toxic Torts; Multi-party Actions and Environmental Action: a Citizen’s Guide. In 2004, with the World Wildlife Fund and the Environmental Law Foundation, he co-authored the report, Environmental Justice.

Martyn regularly lectures, addresses seminars and media on environmental and justice issues. We have been delighted to welcome him to the Law School on several occasions, to talk to us about human rights and class actions. It is a particular pleasure to welcome him back this afternoon to receive his honorary degree.

Mr Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Martyn Day.

This oration was written by Professor John McEldowney, School of Law.

Professor Ed Byrne AC: Hon DSc (11.00am ceremony on Saturday, 19 July)

‘A Minute to Midnight

The Clocks are still running

And tomorrow

Will be the same as today

If we let it

If we let it’

These words come from the poem Midnight published in 2010 as part of an anthology of poetry called ‘Poems from the City: A London Interlude written by this morning’s Honorary Graduate Professor Ed Byrne. Each of the poems was scribbled down in between meetings whilst sitting on the tube or walking across London.

I have chosen these words not only because they come from Ed’s own hand, but because they capture him and his achievements so succinctly – he has never been a man to let tomorrow be the same as today.

Ed Byrne is an eminent neuroscientist, as well as a respected leader in international higher education. His research has been concerned with degenerative neurological diseases, particularly as they relate to progressive muscular diseases such as motor neurone disease: in particular, he has identified the contribution of mitochondrial abnormalities to neurological diseases – ground-breaking research indeed. He has been awarded a Doctor of Science by the University of Melbourne in recognition of his research excellence.

Ed was born in Newcastle, the one in the UK, but moved to Tasmania with his family at the age of 15. He began his career in Adelaide, after graduating with first class honours from the University of Tasmania (which subsequently voted him Alumnus of the Year, in 2012). He was made Neurology Registrar at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1978, and five years later – at the age of 31- was appointed Director of Neurology at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.

In 1992, he was appointed Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Melbourne; he was a founding Director of the Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Unit and the Centre for Neuroscience in 1993, and was made Professor of Experimental Neurology at the University of Melbourne in 2001.

Ed first went to Monash in 2003 as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. During his four years as Executive Dean, research income doubled and he led the establishment of a new Medical School in Malaysia as a branch of Monash at its Sunway campus.

An appointment in London followed in 2007, when he became Executive Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, Head of the Medical School and Vice-Provost (Health) at University College London. It was in this period that he turned his hand to poetry. He remained at UCL until 2009, when he returned to take up his new position at Monash.

As Monash’s eighth President and Vice-Chancellor, Ed Byrne heads Australia’s largest university, with some 65,000 students and 8,000 full-time staff, with campuses in Australia, Italy, China, Malaysia and India. Monash is also a member of the Group of Eight, representing Australia’s most research-intensive universities. Under his leadership, Monash has cemented its position within the top 100 universities of the world on most of the major ranking scales. Ed has continued to develop the internationalisation of the University and led the opening of the new joint campus at Suzhou in China.

In 2012, Ed was the co-architect of the Monash Warwick Alliance which its other co-architect, our own Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift, referred to in his opening address earlier this morning. The alliance is truly ground-breaking and is redefining the concepts of partnership and trust in higher education, and offers a model for research-led institutions to meet future global challenges by exploiting the strengths of both partners.

Ed is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh, the American Academy and the American Association of Neurology, and in 2012 was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. In 2013, he became Chairman of the Board of the Global Foundation, an organisation promoting high-level thinking within Australia and co-operation between Australia and the world. Since 2002, he has served on the board of Cochlear Ltd and was previously a director of BUPA.

Throughout his distinguished career, Ed Byrne has balanced intensive research activity, clinical and administrative work both in Australia and the UK. A truly transnational scholar.

In 2014 he was named a companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to tertiary education, to biomedical teaching and research, as a scientist and academic mentor, and as a contributor to improved global health.

In September of this year, a new phase in his career begins, when he returns to England to take up the post of Principal and President of King’s College London. We can hopefully look forward to another anthology of poems inspired by London in the years to come.

Ed and his wife Melissa have got to know Warwick well and I know my colleagues across the University are grateful to both of them, and I mean both of them, for their friendship and support. It is a particular pleasure that Melissa has been able to join us today, on this very special occasion.

My oration ends where it started, drawing on Ed’s own words - this time from his poem Certificates and Medals:

'Learned academies

Acknowledge the worthy

And reward those

Whose achievements

Usually merit it

Most of us

Enjoy degrees and medals

And feel buttressed

By diplomas

On the wall

And invitations

To meetings of the worthy

Yet in our hearts

We generally know

Real achievement

Has different measures'

Warwick’s recognition of Ed Byrne today is not only for his significant contributions to neuroscience, internationalisation and higher education, but particulalrly because of the exemplary, humble yet visionary way in which those achievements have been made.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Professor Ed Byrne.

This oration was written by Mr Ken Sloan, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer.

Ms Dorothy Wilson MBE, FRSA: Hon DLitt (3.00pm ceremony on Saturday, 19 July)

Dorothy Wilson was born into a musical family whose parents met on the concert platform playing piano duets. Dorothy, being the eldest of six children lost no time in developing her skills as a musician and the cultural leader she is today by forging, as soon as her youngest sibling had mastered an instrument, the Wilson Family Octet. Not only did Dorothy book the venue, she sold the tickets and made the tea in the interval. An early understanding of the importance of PR and marketing also led a young Dorothy to persuade the BBC to feature the Wilson Family Octet in action on national TV. So began, at an early age, a distinguished career in the arts in the UK.

Dorothy’s education demonstrated a strong regional bias, a condition evident throughout her career, eschewing London, often regarded in the UK as the only powerhouse for cultural leaders.

She was first educated in Northumberland, where she persuaded the authorities to fund an international tour by the County Youth Orchestra in which she played; international tours being a rare event in the 1960’s. Higher education followed with degrees from the University of Wales, Bangor and postgraduate study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music where she specialised in singing.

Following employment in local authority arts management, Dorothy was appointed in 1976 to the West Midlands Arts Association the forerunner of what we now know as Arts Council England West Midlands. Dorothy quickly gained a reputation across the UK as one of the few people in the arts funding world to pursue, in both policy and funding terms, the findings of an influential report by Naseem Khan: ‘The Arts Britain Ignores’ The arts of ethnic minorities in Britain, detailing the shortcomings of British arts policy and funding in relation to the largely hidden and rich cultural expressions of black and minority ethnic artists and communities in multicultural Britain. This is a debate that continues today with artists such as Lenny Henry, Meera Syal, Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor demanding policy changes of the BBC, ITV, the BFI and Arts Council. Dorothy Wilson was active on this issue more than 30 years ago. One of the notable legacies of Dorothy’s work in this area was the establishment of SAMPAD, a Birmingham based arts organisation dedicated to the development of South Asian arts in the UK, working with youth, community and education sectors and professional artists nationally and internationally.

It is for this careful, considered and often dogged pursuit of inclusion, excellence and legacy in the arts Mr. Provost that Dorothy recommends herself to us today; as she epitomises in all she does the mantra that the arts for the many and not the few, she elegantly associates herself with the University’s espousal of excellence and inclusion in learning, teaching and research.

In 1990 Dorothy was appointed to her current post of Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham which she immediately rebranded as MAC. Apart from leading an impressive participatory and presented programme, between 2008 and 2010 Dorothy led an ambitious £15m capital redevelopment of MAC, creating an attractive and unmissable arts facility in Birmingham’s Canon Hill Park visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year. Under her leadership MAC has also become the home of a number of successful arts organisations thus continuing MAC’s original mission of being the Midlands Arts Centre for Young People

Dorothy will tell you that she is an artist first, often to be seen playing or singing with a variety of chamber orchestras and ensembles. It is this experience, as an artist, which she says informs her ‘day job’ as a highly respected cultural leader.

In 2001, following a major restructuring of Arts Council England, Dorothy was selected by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to Chair Arts Council England’s West Midlands Regional Council which led her to become a national council member of the Arts Council. She was a member of the Arts Council’s Audit Committee at a time of increased spending on the arts in England in the years when the distribution of lottery monies by the Arts Council matured.

Dorothy also gives her time freely to the governance of a large number of West Midlands based arts organisation including chairing the boards of the internationally renowned, Leamington Spa based, Motionhouse Dance Company, the BBC Performing Arts Fund, Artrix - Bromsgrove’s Arts Centre and Culture Coventry comprised of Coventry’s Transport Museum, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and Lunt Roman Fort. Alongside chairing Charitable organisations in the arts Dorothy is a council member of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and a Board member of Dancefest in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

In 2005 she was made ITV Central's Midlander of the Year for the Arts and Media and she has appeared in The Birmingham Post’s Power 50 list every year since its inauguration. Dorothy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006 and received an MBE for services to the arts in the New Year’s Honours list 2011.

Above all Mr. Provost, and I am in the fortunate position to have been able to canvas opinion on this in advance; were you to ask anyone, from emerging artist to seasoned professional in the arts in our region today, who they would go to for no nonsense advice and wise counsel it would, unequivocally, be Dorothy Wilson the candidate who sits with us today.

Mr Provost, in the name of the Senate, I present for the admission for degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Dorothy Wilson.

This oration was written by Mr Alan Rivett, Warwick Arts Centre.