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Honorary Graduands Orations - Winter 2012


Lady Sainsbury – known to her friends and colleagues as Susie —is the Deputy Chair of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Chair of RSC America. Lady Sainsbury has had a distinguished career and made important contributions to publishing, education and the arts. She began her career in publishing in the international sales division of Oxford University Press in 1964. From 1968 to 1978 she worked at Jonathan Cape, first as an editor and then commissioning editor for Jackdaw Publications, Jonathan Cape's educational division. She was director of Jackdaw Publications from 1974 to 1978, before working as an editorial advisor on education for Walker Books from 1989 to 1995. In 1980, she established Gate Nursery School, London, and remained co-principal until 2005.

Since 2000, Lady Sainsbury has been Deputy Chair of the Royal Academy of Music and in 2003, she became an honorary fellow of that institution. She is also a member of the International Advisory Council and the Dean's Council of the School of Arts at Columbia University, a member of the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, Washington DC, and a member of the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts International Committee for Arts, Washington DC. She has also acted as a school governor at Bedales School during the period 1990 to 1998 and has been a governor of Arnold House School since 1999.

Lady Sainsbury has raised three daughters and successfully combined being a wife and mother with continued freelance editorial work and contributions to education and the arts. She has been a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1990, Deputy Chair of the Board since 2000, and chaired the RSC’s Transformation Project Committee from 1999 to 2011.

Lady Sainsbury was awarded a CBE for services to the Royal Shakespeare Company and to the Arts in June 2010.

There are many "loves" in Lady Sainsbury's professional life, but I am sure she would agree when I say that the Royal Shakespeare Company comes very high, perhaps at the top, of this list. In 2011, the RSC celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and marked the event by reopening the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatres, following their four year transformation. One of Lady Sainsbury’s great achievements was to chair the Transformation Project Committee, seeing through the creation of the company’s temporary Courtyard Theatre and the rebuilding of its Stratford home on time and on budget. Lady Sainsbury was a driving force behind the whole scheme and she was central to the whole project: helping to find the right architects and clerk of works and dealing with every detail of the construction and furnishing. Constantly on site—apart from when she was travelling abroad to speak and raise money for the project—she was the person to whom everyone turned when there was a difficulty to surmount or a quick decision to be made.

I know from speaking to those who have worked with Lady Sainsbury that she is not interested in hogging the limelight or being given the credit, but any idea that she was merely a trustee or governor of the RSC is quite wrong. She is, I am reliably told, happier in a hard hat than in a designer dress and in effect she gave up the last five years to Stratford. With some people that might have been a recipe for disaster but not with Lady Sainsbury, whose absolute dedication to getting the job done -- and done to the highest standards - and her friendliness, under all conditions, to all those working for the Company has won her not only their respect but their deep and lasting affection.

The new Royal Shakespeare Theatre is itself a major contribution to our cultural heritage, both in terms of housing the world’s greatest theatre company and in terms of its own physical presence. Boldly forward looking in its design, it intellectually links with the past both through its apron stage, which harks back to the theatres of Shakespeare’s day, and through its brave new tower, homage to the 1879 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, which stood on an adjoining site before much of it burnt down in 1926. It also physically links with the past by conspicuously combining with, rather than replacing, the elegant 1932 art deco RST building and by sharing the front-of-theatre space in the new RST with the vestiges of the 1879 theatre which now form the RSC’s Swan Theatre.
Si monumentum requiris—if you would require Lady Sainsbury’s monument—look left as you enter Stratford across Clopton’s Bridge and there it stands on the banks of the River Avon.

The University of Warwick commends Lady Sainsbury’s lifelong passion and active advocacy for the arts, for culture and for education and, given the close relationship that this University has built and continues to build with our neighbour, the Royal Shakespeare Company, we particularly commend her for her work for the RSC and for the contributions to our cultural heritage that this entails. We are proud to be able to honour her in this way at our Winter Degree Congregation.

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


From its inception the University of Warwick has been determined to ensure that local communities benefit from its presence in the region. Important relationships have been developed with industrial, business and civic organisations in the area. A particular aspect of its mission is the University’s contribution to the cultural life of the region. The development of Warwick Arts Centre has made it a regional and national focus for a wide variety of arts events and activities. The University, in its turn, has derived enormous benefit from these relationships and from the support of numerous groups of people whose participation and generous commitment have contributed to lasting achievements.

Prominent among these groups was the Friends of the Mead Gallery, established in 1987 to support the exhibition programme and to provide funding and expertise for related educational activities. The founder member of the Friends, its first Secretary and its longest serving Committee member is Miss Sheila Fitzgerald whom the University wishes to honour today with the award of the Chancellor’s Medal.

When a public figure is honoured, they usually cite a mentor or teacher who opened up their particular field to them. Many of us in this hall today will remember such a teacher who showed us how a subject could occupy, not just an hour on a timetable, but a lifetime with its attendant interest, challenge, frustration and excitement. Generations of school children, students and adult learners have discovered a lifetime’s interest in the arts, thanks to Sheila Fitzgerald’s long-standing and extensive involvement in the cultural life of this region.

After graduating from art school, Sheila Fitzgerald’s first job was with the Arts Council Midlands Theatre based in Coventry where she designed the sets for weekly rep and for the touring company. After several years there, she took a job as designer at Rootes Motors, at the Humber factory in Coventry, creating interior designs for car showrooms both in the UK and overseas. She was also employed as a designer and illustrator of publicity materials for Rootes advertising campaigns. After six years, she returned to the theatre, working as a scenic artist at the Hippodrome Theatre in Coventry. She was also responsible for costume designs for performances of the Coventry Mystery Plays in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral.

In the 1960s she made a career change when she trained as a secondary school teacher at Coventry College of Education (now the University’s Institute of Education) and for many years was Head of Art at Barrs Hill School in Coventry. She also taught part-time art classes for adults in the region and was active as both organiser and exhibitor in several local art societies. In 1987 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Her signal contribution to the University was the organisation of year-round art exhibitions in two of the management training centres, Radcliffe House and Scarman House, selling original works produced by the artist-members of the Friends of the Mead. These proved to be extremely popular with visiting delegates and over a period of twenty years raised £25,000.

Some of this money went to support the work of the University of Warwick Student Art Society and paid for tutors for life classes and materials for workshops. Sheila Fitzgerald also judged the Art Society’s annual exhibition and the Friends of the Mead provided the prizes. Other funding was given to the Mead Gallery to contribute the costs of running the Family Saturday Art Club, thereby keeping ticket prices low. However, most of the funds raised were donated to the acquisition fund for the University’s art collection. They contributed to the purchase of 40 works of art that now hang across the campus, providing succeeding generations of staff, students and visitors with ideas and enjoyment and contributing to the development of our distinctive campus. A particular focus was the purchase of works from young graduates, providing them with the funds to continue their practice in the difficult year after graduation.

All communities need people like Sheila Fitzgerald who are willing to volunteer time and hard work to increase opportunities and access to creative activity. From the proceeds of Miss Fitzgerald’s exhibitions have come funds which have given thousands the opportunity to engage in the arts, most recently the children, staff, parents and governors of six primary schools in the most disadvantaged areas of our region who have excitedly followed the art trails around campus for three years now. The University is grateful to Sheila Fitzgerald for the way in which she has harnessed her creativity to allow so many more people, both here and beyond the University, to participate in the arts.

This oration was written by Ms Sarah Shalgosky, Curator of the Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre.


I am honoured to present Prof Alan Thorpe for the award of an honorary degree at Warwick, in recognition of his research achievements and outstanding leadership in the field of Meteorology – the science of weather and its forecasting – and in the UK the whole area of Environmental Science.

Alan already ranks as one of our own, joining Warwick in 1970 and graduating with first class honours in Physics three years later. In those politically charged days he must have wondered what he was letting himself in for at University here. In Feb 1970 long running student protests over social facilities (and who controlled them) came to a head with much national publicity. Students occupying the then Registry building at Gibbet Hill had promised to do no damage, but that did not stop them from making political hay with the discovery of files relating to activism of individual students

I am told that Alan still remembers with enthusiasm is his undergraduate research project here at Warwick on the role of the global atmospheric water cycle, saying that it was part of what set him on the course of his scientific career. He moved on to Imperial College for his PhD on “The nocturnal jet: structure and evolution of the atmospheric boundary layer” and his related journal paper the year after has now been cited over 90 times.

He continued at Imperial for five productive years as a Research Fellow, moved briefly to research at the Met Office, before joining the academic staff at Reading University, rising to Professor (1991) and Head of Department (1996). He did not however stop there.

His research involves the dynamics of the atmosphere and the predictability of weather systems such as severe storms and cyclones. This research highlighted the crucial role played by clouds in providing an energy source in the atmosphere as water vapour condenses to cloud liquid and frozen water; this invigorates the development of cyclonic storms so typical of UK weather. He has also researched how to predict where in the atmosphere the skill of weather forecasts is most sensitive to the quality of observational data fed into them. Knowing where these regions are located is key to improving forecasts by enhancing the observational network.

A singular feature of his research has been the organisation of international field campaigns to make detailed measurements of the structure and development of weather systems for example over the North Atlantic ocean. This involves using research aircraft to sample wind speeds, temperatures and cloud properties as well as using ocean research vessels, radars and satellite measurements. And it signals his wider research leadership.

Research under his leadership on climate change has investigated the role of uncertainties in the models used to predict climate change resulting from human input of greenhouse gases. This has led to the ability to provide probabilities associated with future scenarios of climate change such that in the Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change there could be an assessment of the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation to low probability but high impact weather resulting from climate change caused by human activities.

In 1999 he became Director of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research. Two years later he moved to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), becoming the first director of its newly established Centre for Atmospheric Science. In 2005, he became Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of NERC itself, a position which he held until June 2011. From 2009 to 2011, he was also Chair of the Research Councils UK Executive Group (RCUK): he thus had a central role in persuading the present government to protect the Science and Research Budget (at least in cash terms) at a time when most Government spending received more sizeable reductions. He was also Champion for Research Councils UK for public engagement with research which involved making the case that all researchers need to be involved in dialogue regarding their research with the public and other stakeholders.

Last summer he moved on again, now leading for Europe as the Director-General of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Professor Thorpe has been Vice-President of the Royal Meteorological Society, and was awarded the Society’s L F Richardson prize (1979) and its Buchan Prize (1992) for his research. He was a founding co-chair of the World Meteorological Organisation’s research programme ‘ THORPEX: A World Weather Research Programme’ . He has been an assessor on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Science Advisory Council and is a member of a number of national and international science committees. He is also engaged in the ongoing climate change debates, engaging at various levels with the general public and with climate change sceptics.

This oration was written by Professor Robin Ball, Department of Physics.


I am honoured to present Sir Robert Worcester, for the award of an honorary doctor of laws (LLD) in recognition of his outstanding scholarship, most notably, his service to public opinion research in the UK and all over the world.

I was fortunate enough to attend an academic talk Sir Robert gave in the Department of Politics and International Relations last week, during which he mentioned that “when I received the letter from the Vice Chancellor asking whether I would accept the honorary LLD I said ‘yes please’, because Warwick is one of the finest universities in the country.”

This honorary degree recognises the long standing support Sir Robert has given to the University of Warwick and the Department of Politics and International Relations, and his outstanding scholarship and service to British Politics, Political Science in general and political methodology in particular.

For many years Sir Robert has been one of the constant characters in British politics he has become the “doyen of political polling, an ubiquitous figure, seemingly, at general election time — sought-after for news of a half-point movement and his reaction, which is drawn invariably from his long experience.” (as Chris Blackhurst put it in his article about Sir Robert (Evening Standard, 17 November 2010))

Sir Robert might be best known as the leading British pollster but he renders his services, expertise and advice to many charities, foundations and academic endeavours. Chris Blackhurst wrote: “Please God, can I have whatever Bob Worcester is on?” – pointing out the verve, spirit and vitality with which Sir Robert is managing at least 10 different engagements a day.

Let me try to give a short and by no means exhaustive summary of Sir Roberts many achievements, honours, awards and services rendered to society.

Sir Robert Milton Worcester is of course the founder of MORI (Market and Opinion Research International Ltd.) - the leading public opinion research organisation in the UK – and a member and contributor to many voluntary organisations. He is a well known figure in British public opinion research and political circles and acts as a media commentator, especially about voting intentions in British and American elections. Following the sale of MORI to the French research company Ipsos in October 2005, he became chairman of the Ipsos Public Affairs Research Advisory Board and an International Director of the Ipsos Group. Subsequently, in 2007 he became Senior Advisor to Ipsos MORI.

A Kansas City native, Sir Robert Worcester graduated from the University of Kansas in 1955, and worked for a time with management consultants McKinsey & Company, but as some of you might not know his first job was waiting tables at a Kansas University sorority. Sir Robert is the perfect example of a self made man who lives the American Dream in Britain. In 1965, he joined Opinion Research Corporation as Chief Financial Officer, before coming to Britain in 1969 to found MORI.

He was made a Knight Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2005 in recognition of the “outstanding services rendered to political, social and economic research and for contribution to government policy and programmes”.

Sir Robert Worcester was appointed Chancellor of the University of Kent in 2006. He is also an Honorary Professor of Politics at Kent, a former Governor and Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an Honorary Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Warwick University, which we are infinitely proud of. In addition, Sir Robert is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science and of King's College London, holds six honorary doctorates, and the Distinguished Graduate award of the University of Kansas, USA. He is a Freeman of the City of London.

He is a Trustee of the Magna Carta Trust and a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation. He was also a former member of the Fulbright Commission and a former Governor of the English-Speaking Union.

He is President and chairs the Advisory Council of the Institute for Business Ethics and has been on the Corporate Responsibility Advisory Board of Camelot and Consumers' Association. He was a Member of the Advisory Council of the National Consumer Council and Forum for the Future.

He is a Vice President of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, of the United Nations Association and of the European Atlantic Group and was President of ENCAMS (Keep Britain Tidy). He was a Trustee of Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Worldwide Fund for Nature(WWF).

Sir Robert is a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Kent and a Kent County Council appointed Kent Ambassador

He is Past President of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), 1982-1984, and in 1996 he received the Dinerman Award for lifetime achievement in the field. He is a Fellow of the Marketing Society, and of the Market Research Society of Great Britain and a Special Advisor to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee.

However, not only is Sir Robert Worcester a great asset to many organizations, foundations and charities as well as an outstanding public figure in British Society he also is a formidable scholar and excellent academic. Sir Robert is author, co-author, editor or co-editor of more than a dozen books, most notably “British Public Opinion: A guide to the history and methodology of political opinion polling” (1991), and “Explaining Labour’s Landslide” (1990); as well as numerous articles in professional peer-reviewed journals, newspapers and magazines. He is co-editor of the Consumer Market Research Handbook (McGraw Hill), a founding co-editor of The International Journal of Public Opinion Research. He writes monthly columns for Profile and Parliamentary Monitor, is a frequent contributor to the Financial Times and various other newspapers and magazines and frequently appears on British, American and Canadian television and radio.

Most of you probably know Sir Robert Worcester because he is the leading pollster in the UK, Europe and the US. Only few of you might have listened to his appearance as one of the cast aways in Radio 4’s programme the Desert Island Discs. I am delighted that Sir Robert Worcester is as fond of Germany classical music as I am – among others he likes Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner.

This oration was written by Dr Vera Troeger, Department of Economics.


David Rowe was the Director of the University of Warwick Science Park since its inception in 1982 until 2011. He thus came in at the beginning of one of the University’s most ambitious and far-sighted projects, in economic circumstances that were by no means ideal – Warwick, in common with all UK universities, was suffering from huge cuts in its government funding. Warwick’s response to this situation was to pursue energetically opportunities for increasing its earned income through innovation and entrepreneurial activities. One outcome of this ambitious strategy was the Science Park, a joint venture between the University, Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and the West Midlands Enterprise Board and opened by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984.

An electronic engineer by training, David Rowe took what was essentially a derelict piece of land on the edge of the University campus and made it into one of the country’s most flourishing University Science Parks, now employing over 2,000 people in more than 150 high tech businesses in purpose-built accommodation. In the process, he created what has been called ‘a community of investors, entrepreneurs, business people, and scientists’. He played a key role in getting hundreds of new businesses off the ground, particularly those involving science or new technology, many developing directly from research by scientists at the University of Warwick. This was a role that he relished, commenting on his retirement from the Science Park: ‘It has been great to have the freedom to help people with an early idea, and to take that, develop it and turn it into a successful business.’ However, his view has always been that simply launching new ‘start ups’ is not enough: the important thing is to work to increase their survival chances, to enable these young businesses to grow and thus provide sustainable employment opportunities. This was his policy as Director of the Science Park, which has now expanded into three new locations, with innovation centres established in Binley (Coventry), Warwick and at Blythe Valley Park in Solihull.

David’s achievements with the Science Park and his role in nurturing new businesses in the West Midlands are, however, just one aspect of his contribution to the development of enterprise in the UK and abroad. He was one of the founder members of the United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA) and a member of its Executive Board for more than ten years: the Association has now conferred on him the status of UKSPA Companion. He chaired the Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust, a not for profit organisation that provides loans to businesses and individuals in Coventry and Warwickshire that are unable to secure commercial bank lending. In 2010 he was appointed Chair of the West Midlands Enterprise Board and is currently Chairman of UK Business Incubation (UKBI), the leading professional body on the development and support of business incubation and growth environments. He has also been a national and international consultant on many aspects of business incubation, science parks and technology transfer, supporting the development of Technoparks and Business Innovation Centres in the Russian Federation, and of strategies for enterprise and innovation in Cork, Maastricht, Plymouth and Biocity in Nottingham, among many other projects. David’s work achieved national recognition in 2006 through the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion – Lifetime Achievement.

The University of Warwick has always been deeply committed to its local region and to contributing to its economic and social well-being. The Science Park was born at a time when Coventry was suffering from high unemployment and the decline of its traditional industries; through it, the University indicated its willingness to work to identify new opportunities that would lead to the creation of new jobs. So not only have David Rowe’s achievements in the Science Park been immensely important to the West Midlands as a whole, they have also enabled the University to fulfil an important part of its mission.

This oration was written by Professor Tim Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer, Business Engagement and Research (Science & Medicine).