Dr John Hood: Hon LLD (11:00am ceremony on Wednesday, 22 January 2014)
Dr John Hood, whom we honour at this Winter Degree Congregation, is by profession and training an engineer. He studied civil engineering at the University of Auckland, obtaining his Bachelor of Engineering and subsequently his PhD, and also lectured for some years there in the School of Engineering. He is therefore well able to appreciate the achievements of those students graduating at this ceremony. Dr Hood also holds an MPhil in Management from the University of Oxford: his professional training thus combines engineering and management – a concept fundamental to WMG, where this morning’s graduating students have studied.
In 1979, John Hood moved from academia to business, forging a successful New Zealand –based career with Fletcher Challenge Limited – a group of companies with interests in building, construction and property, and pulp and paper- where he remained until 1997. Much of his work involved extensive international travel – indeed, he worked out that in some years he spent as much as 40% of his working life abroad. Until 1985, however, he also maintained his position as a part-time senior lecturer in the University of Auckland’s Department of Civil Engineering, bringing invaluable business experience to his students. In 1996, he became CEO of Fletcher Challenge Paper.
Dr Hood became Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland in 1998, remaining in that role until 2004; he had previously served on the University’s Council. He was Chairman of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee from 2002-2004, chaired the Knowledge Wave Trust and was a Director of Universitas 21 Limited and Universitas 21 Global. He also contributed to New Zealand’s wider economic policy through his membership of the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Council and the Prime Minister’s Growth and Innovation Advisory Board.
In 2004, Dr Hood was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford - the first Vice-Chancellor to be elected from outside Oxford’s academic population in 900 years. It was perhaps this difference in background that enabled him to look dispassionately at the University’s financial and administrative processes and to ensure that they were significantly strengthened, resulting in greater transparency. His five years in office were also marked by the doubling of Oxford’s external research, the creation of a significant number of new research centres and institutes across all academic disciplines, the expansion of Oxford’s portfolio of postgraduate programmes, and dramatic increases in both undergraduate and postgraduate applications. And, of course, there was the Campaign for Oxford (‘Oxford Thinking’) - one of the most ambitious fund-raising campaigns undertaken by a European university – which Dr Hood launched in 2008. Aiming to reduce the University’s dependence on government funding, the Campaign had an initial target of £1.25 billion -a target passed in March 2012. As part of the Campaign, Dr Hood also inaugurated the Vice-Chancellor’s Circle, a society that recognises the generous support of many donors to Oxford.
Dr Hood is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of The Robertson Foundation, a grant-making body focussing on education, environment, medical research and religion. He is also a non-executive director of WPP and of BG Group plc, and chairman of URENCO Ltd and of the global education provider Study Group. In 2011, Dr Hood was elected Chair of the Rhodes Trustees. He himself came to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1974, and had remained actively involved with the Rhodes Trust: he was New Zealand Secretary for the Rhodes Trust and was a member of the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee.
Throughout his career, Dr Hood has also been actively involved with a number of sporting bodies. In New Zealand, he chaired the America’s Cup Task Force and was governor and executive board member of the New Zealand Sports Foundation. In 1995, he chaired a review of New Zealand cricket and in 1996 was chairman of the Prime Minister’s Think-Tank on High Performance Sport. A review of the University’s sporting facilities was undertaken during his time as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford.
Dr Hood is an Honorary Fellow of Worcester College, Templeton College and St Anne’s College, and a Quondam Fellow of All Souls’ College, Oxford. His honours include New Zealander of the Year (2001); the World Class New Zealander Award (2007), and the Peter Blake Medal for outstanding leadership in New Zealand (2009). He holds honorary degrees from universities world- wide including the University of Auckland and the University of British Colombia. We are delighted today to have the opportunity to present him with an honorary degree from the University of Warwick.
Mr Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, John Antony Hood.
This oration was given by Professor Ann Caesar, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (50th Anniversary)
Dr Kevin Finnan MBE: Hon DLitt (3:00pm ceremony on Wednesday, 22 January 2014)
Kevin Finnan is one of England’s leading and most innovative choreographers whose dance theatre productions have delighted and inspired audiences around the world. Kevin founded Motionhouse, the Leamington Spa-based dance company, with his partner Louise Richards in 1988. Over the last twenty-five years, the company has developed a reputation for bold experimentation in demanding physical performances rooted in contemporary dance but drawing on circus, acrobatics, theatre, and film. Motionhouse’s commitment to its audiences through the creation of exceptional and accessible performances has resulted in loyal followers, and enthusiastic spectators have awarded the company the ‘Audience Prize’ at both the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards and at the MiramirO Festival in Ghent, Belgium.
Kevin received an MA in Contemporary Performance from University College Bretton Hall and a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from University of Warwick. In fact, he was our first practice-based doctoral student whose thesis, 'A Body of Work: Performance and Becoming', was based on both his creative practice and his research underpinning that practice. Kevin is currently Associate Fellow in the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies at Warwick and Associate Artist of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.
Kevin has never shied away from provocative themes and challenging stories. One of Motionhouse’s early productions, The Ticking Man (1990), took the dancers into a high security prison to work with inmates and guards, and another, The House of Bones (1991), responded to the AIDS epidemic by exploring plagues of the past and the public’s treatment of the afflicted. More recent pieces, Scattered (2009) and Broken (2013), try to understand our precarious relationship with water and the earth respectively. And one of my favourite pieces, Cascade, depicts a family’s struggle to survive as flood waters submerge their home. Cascade complicates our role as spectators by making us witness to the catastrophic events and hence compelling us to accept some responsibility for them—not as they occurred, but as they are understood, documented and interpreted. Cascade does not offer answers, but instead creates an intertextuality of visual images, achieved through the dancers’ embodied re-presentation of familiar media images of flood victims.
Kevin’s versatility in choreography is evident in his creations for both indoor venues and outdoor locations and in shows that range from small and intimate with only a few dancers, like Underground, Cascade and Captive to large-scale spectacle like The Voyage, commissioned for London 2012 Festival and performed by professional dancers and aerialists, a large gospel choir, a brass band and over 140 community performers on a life-size cruise liner placed in front of Birmingham's Town Hall. Continuing Motionhouse’s on-going commitment to education and outreach, the company ran a participatory project called Quest in the run-up to The Voyage that offered performers of all ages from the West Midlands the opportunity to be part of the London 2012 celebrations.
The last couple of years have been especially thrilling for Kevin Finnan. In addition to creating The Voyage in collaboration with the Australian physical theatre company, Legs on the Wall, he was appointed choreographer and movement director for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. And, for the Marseille-Provence 2013 Capital of Culture Celebrations, he created Traction for dancers and diggers. In addition, several shows in Motionhouse’s repertoire have gone on international tours in Europe, Asia and North America. In 2013, Kevin was awarded an MBE for services to dance and the 2012 Paralympic Games. Kevin Finnan has contributed more than exquisite dance theatre; he has offered us a language of movement that helps us to understand the urgent social issues of our time.
Mr. Vice Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for Admission to the Degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa, Dr. Kevin Finnan.
This oration was given by Dr Susan Haedicke, School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies.
Professor Oliver Sacks MD, FRPC, CBE: Hon DSc (11:00am ceremony on Thursday, 23 January 2014)
Last March in this very hall, we were privileged to have Oliver Sacks address us as part of the University of Warwick’s Distinguished Lecture series. During his lecture, entitled ‘Narrative and Medicine: the importance of the case history’, he demonstrated the compassion and insight for which he is famous, reminding us that the effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognise, absorb, interpret and act on the stories and plights of others.
Oliver Sacks was born in 1933 in London, into a family of physicians, scientists and teachers. He earned his medical degree at The Queen’s College, Oxford University, and in 1961 moved to California for his medical residencies and fellowship work. Since 1965, he has lived in New York, where he is a practicing neurologist. From 2007 to 2012, he served as a Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and he was also designated the University’s first Columbia University Artist. Dr. Sacks is currently a Professor of Neurology at the NYU School of Medicine. He is also a visiting Professor here at the University of Warwick.
In 1966, Dr. Sacks began working at a chronic care hospital in the Bronx where he encountered an extraordinary group of patients, many of whom had spent decades in strange, frozen states, like human statues, unable to initiate movement. He recognized these patients as survivors of the great pandemic of encephalitis lethargica, the long-forgotten "sleepy sickness" that had swept the world from 1916 to 1927, and he treated them with a then-experimental drug, L-dopa, which enabled them to come back to life. They became the subjects of his book Awakenings, which later inspired a play by Harold Pinter (“A Kind of Alaska”) and the Oscar-nominated feature film “Awakenings” with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.
The New York Times has referred to Dr. Sacks as “the poet laureate of medicine,” because he sees and practices medicine not only as a science but as an art, and because his work has given voice to many people normally overlooked by society. In books such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and An Anthropologist on Mars, Dr Sacks describes patients struggling to live with conditions ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to autism, parkinsonism, epilepsy, phantom limb syndrome, retardation, and Alzheimer’s disease. In his most recent book, Hallucinations, Dr Sacks deploys his usual elegance, curiosity and compassion to weave together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tells us about the organisation and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition. Dr Sack’s books and essays have deeply influenced our understanding of human illness and the ways in which we adapt to illness as patients, the ways we care for those who are neurologically challenged, and the fundamental ways in which illness affects our identity as individuals or communities.
Dr Sacks’s work, which has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Gatsby Charitable Trust, regularly appears in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, as well as various medical journals. In 2002 he was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He is an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru. Dr Sacks was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Dr Sacks’s work has not only inspired countless young people to embark on careers in medicine and healthcare; it has inspired and fertilized the work of a wide array of scientists working in subjects ranging from the mechanics of visual and auditory perception to the workings of memory and consciousness itself. His work has also permeated the culture at large, so that people now speak of “Oliver Sacks-like conditions” when they mean something odd and interesting that requires our compassion and understanding—or that sheds light on the ways in which the human brain functions and adapts and shapes our world. Even people who have not read any of his books are likely to have heard of his ideas—either on the radio, television, or internet, or in one of the many artistic adaptations that have been made of his work.
Perhaps Dr Sacks’s greatest contribution is to counterbalance the explanatory drive of modern clinical science, to remind us of the humanity of medicine and to reinforce that, as the physician-philosopher Raymond Tallis puts it, the experience and human significance of illness ‘are simply not science shaped’.
Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, Dr Oliver Sacks.
This oration was given by Professor Lawrence Young, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning and Resources).
Professor George Loewenstein: Hon DSc (3:00pm ceremony on Thursday, 23 January 2014)
Professor George Loewenstein is the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is also Director of the Center for Behavioural Decision Research. Professor Loewenstein is one of the pioneers of Behavioural Science, in particular in the areas of Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics, and is especially known for his work regarding intertemporal choice, bargaining and social comparison, emotions, behaviour, and taste prediction.
Professor Loewenstein received his B.A. in Economics magna cum laude from Brandeis University in 1977, but admits that his intellectual affinities lie at the border between Economics and Psychology. He obtained his doctorate from Yale University in 1985 with his thesis entitled Expectations and Intertemporal Choice, and worked as an assistant at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University between 1984 and 1985,
Professor Loewenstein then joined the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in September 1985 as an Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science. It was while Professor Loewenstein was at Chicago Booth that he published his first paper, ‘Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption’, in the well renowned British journal, the Economic Journal, in 1987, albeit, Professor Loewenstein admits, after many rejections.
Professor Loewenstein was challenging the accepted school of economic thought at that time, and was in fact attempting what the philosopher of social science Thomas Kuhn has termed a ‘paradigm shift’ in Economics. It is understandable therefore, that mainstream economists, members of that ‘invisible college of scientists’ who protect the prevailing paradigm, took some convincing to accept Professor Loewenstein’s work.
At that time, the prevailing economic assumption was that people are impatient: people want rewards now, and we want to delay unpleasant experiences as long as possible. Professor Loewenstein’s research provided a much more psychologically nuanced story: that anticipation of an outcome both affects our happiness, and guides our behaviour. So, for example, we may delay pleasant experiences (for example by planning a holiday a long way ahead) in order to savour their anticipation, and we will often try to get unpleasant tasks out of the way as soon as possible so that they do not prey on our minds.
Continuing his pioneering and interdisciplinary approach to research, Professor Loewenstein has used Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI or ‘brain scan’ - equipment to show – and this is something that will resonate with many of us - how the brain registers parting with money as pain. The battle between immediate pleasure and immediate pain when making purchasing decisions has helped neuroeconomists to understand better how the brain processes information. Professor Loewenstein has also developed his notion of a “cold-to-hot empathy gap”, which argues that our intuitive understanding of ourselves and others crucially depends on our own current state; for example, when one is angry, it is difficult to understand what it is like for one to be happy, and vice versa.
After winning the Hillel Einhorn New Investigator Award, bestowed by the Society for Judgment and Decision Making in 1988, Professor Loewenstein took up the position of Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation for a year between September 1988 and August 1989. He left the Chicago Booth School of Business in 1990 to join Carnegie Mellon University as an Associate Professor of Economics, and became Professor of Economics and Psychology in 1992.
Professor Loewenstein served as President of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making from 2001 until 2002, and sat on the Executive Board at the Society for Neuroeconomics between 2005 and 2006. In October 2006, Professor Loewenstein achieved the distinction of being appointed to the Herbert A. Simon Chaired Professorship of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and he remains in this role to this day.
In a highly distinguished academic career, Professor Loewenstein has published over 200 scholarly articles in leading international academic journals, has authored or edited six books and has sat on the editorial boards of eight world-renowned journals. Professor Loewenstein is now considered to be one of the most influential researchers in his field; and that first Economic Journal paper which caused so much anxiety has now become a highly cited article. Indeed, in recognition of his work, Professor Loewenstein was himself, in 2008, admitted to that formidable ‘invisible college of scientists’ in the very visible form of being elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Warwick University has pioneered Behavioural Science in Europe, and Warwick Business School, together with the Departments of Economics and Psychology, is home to some of the world’s leading Behavioural Scientists. Indeed, in recognition of its importance in understanding the world around us, Behavioural Science is singled out by our University as one of its interdisciplinary Global Research Priorities, and it is therefore fitting that we should salute one of the pioneers of this important field. In addition, Professor Loewenstein embodies the University of Warwick’s pioneering spirit and willingness to challenge conventional thinking. We recognise and commend his pathbreaking research into Behavioural Science, which has revolutionised thinking in the field of Economics and helped shape our understanding of human behaviour and decision making.
The University of Warwick is proud to be able to honour Professor Loewenstein in this way at our Winter Degree Congregation.
Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoros Causa, Professor George Loewenstein.
This oration was given by Professor Mark Taylor, Dean of Warwick Business School.
Sir Vernon Ellis: Hon LLD (11:00am ceremony on Friday, 24 January 2014)
For some 75 years, the British Council has been connecting people with the UK, sharing our culture and perhaps the UK’s most valuable assets – the English language, the arts, and education. It has a presence in 110 countries and territories worldwide, and is regarded as one of the UK’s most valued international institutions. Warwick’s international students have greatly benefited from the presence and advice of the British Council in their home countries and the University has valued the Council’s professional assistance. It is with great pleasure, Mr Chancellor, that I introduce to you and to this Congregation Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair of the British Council.
After graduating from Oxford, where he read Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Sir Vernon joined Accenture, where he spent all his working life. Here he was in a number of major operational roles overseeing a period of extraordinary growth. Through the 1990s he led the firm’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. From 2001 he was International Chairman with a focus on geographic strategy, the transition to a public company and external relations. He established and chaired the firm’s Global Corporate Citizenship activities and global Accenture Foundations. He also led the firm’s participation in the World Economic Forum at Davos, and was the founder Chairman of Accenture Development Partnerships.
Sir Vernon was the UK private sector representative on the G8 Digital Opportunities Task Force and has served on several boards and advisory committees for leading business schools. He is currently Chairman of Martin Randall Travel, the leading cultural tours company, and of One Medicare, a company providing primary healthcare services.
In March 2010, Sir Vernon became Chair of the British Council. He has since led the Board and executives through a strategic review and a major organisation change. The Council has recommitted to being an entrepreneurial public service, working on a larger-scale and reaching larger audiences through joint projects with like-minded partners and the imaginative use of new technology. Sir Vernon has stressed the need for the British Council to be more active in the UK, sharing even more widely its international contacts with the UK’s cultural and educational institutions, and helping to equip the UK’s young people with the language skills, international experience and confidence they need to compete in the global economy. A new investment strategy for the arts has seen a dramatic increase in the Council’s investment in its global arts programme, based on the belief that the arts contribute vitally to the development of society and build trust in the UK globally.
Sir Vernon himself has been greatly involved in the arts in the UK: his passion is music, particularly opera. He became Acting Chairman of English National Opera in 2005, was Chairman from 2006 to 2012, and is now its President; he led the organisation through a period of transformation to its current position as one of the world’s most innovative and productive opera companies. He was Chairman of the Classical Opera Company from its foundation in 1997 until 2009 and is currently its President. He is Chair of the National Opera Studio. From 2004 to 2010 he was a Trustee of the Royal College of Music, which awarded him a Fellowship in 2012. He is now becoming increasingly interested and involved in organisations bringing music experience to schools.
Sir Vernon is one of the UK’s most generous arts patrons. Through the family Foundation which he set up some years ago, he supports several arts companies, artists and charities. The Foundation also manages around 80 concerts a year at Sir Vernon’s London home, offering many leading artists a run-through ahead of major public engagements, and providing development and showcasing opportunities for young musicians, as well as fundraising opportunities for musical organisations and charities: for the audiences, these events offer an experience that is quite different to that in the concert hall – a chance to hear chamber music, for instance, in the intimate surroundings for which it was originally written.
Sir Vernon was a member of the Philanthropy Review, a task force formed in 2011 to make recommendations for increasing levels of giving; he makes frequent speeches on this topic as well as on arts infrastructure and funding. He was knighted in 2011 for services to music and was appointed Chair of the Arts and Media Honours Committee in 2012. Warwick is honoured to have him with us at this Congregation.
Mr Chancellor, in the name of the Senate, I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Vernon James Ellis.
This oration was given by Professor Simon Swain, Chair of the Faculty of Arts.
Lord Michael Whitby: Hon LLD (3:00pm ceremony on Friday, 24 January 2014, in absentia)
Lord Michael Whitby – Mike Whitby – epitomises that often-used phrase ‘a man of the Midlands’. He was born in Birmingham; educated at James Watt Technical Grammar School, Smethwick; is currently Chairman and Managing Director of a Smethwick-based engineering company; served on Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council; has been a councillor for the Harborne ward of Birmingham since 1997, and was leader of Birmingham City Council from 2004 to 2012. It is hardly surprising, then, that when he was created a life peer in 2013, he chose to take the title ‘Baron Whitby of Harborne in the City of Birmingham’.
Mike Whitby entered politics in 1979 when he joined the Conservative party. He won the Harborne ward of Birmingham in a by-election in 1997, became Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group in Birmingham City Council in 1998, and Group Leader in 2003. In 2004, he became leader of Birmingham City Council and led the city in a progressive partnership with the Liberal Democrats until 2012 – thus becoming the second longest-serving Leader in the Council’s history.
Birmingham City Council is the second largest city council in the UK; Birmingham is a city with a highly diverse ethnic mix and its own particular complexities and difficulties – especially in a time of economic recession. But Mike Whitby is a man who knows Birmingham, who understands how the city works – as evidenced by the slogan he adopted: ‘a global city with a local heart’. He realised the need to plan for the city’s future, and to take Birmingham’s people with him in that planning. So his award-winning Big City Plan, that offered a twenty year vision for the city centre, was finalised in 2010 after consultation with the public. In it, impressive large-scale developments are complemented by the provision of public spaces and room for pedestrians in all areas of the city – something Mike Whitby feels very strongly about.
During his term of office, Lord Whitby presided over transformational infrastructure developments: the £188 million new Library of Birmingham- one of the largest public libraries in Europe- which opened to great acclaim in 2013 and to which he was particularly committed; the £600 million redevelopment of New Street Station at the hub of the country’s rail network; the development of the award winning Eastside City Park – Birmingham’s first urban park for 130 years, completed in 2012; the extension of the city’s Metro system and the construction of a new runway at Birmingham International Airport. He believed that such large-scale regeneration demanded a private-public partnership: the Big City Plan secured private funding of over £500 million, including the £100 million new John Lewis store currently being built in the city centre. For those of us who remember Birmingham in the 1970s – a city where cars took precedence over pedestrians who got about the city via a series of somewhat unappetising underpasses – the transformation in 2014 is incredible. Lord Whitby has been synonymous with this transformation of Birmingham’s brand and reputation.
However, Mike Whitby also looked to the international arena for Birmingham’s development. He embarked on an ambitious international strategy, creating new economic links with China, the Middle East and India. He played a major strategic role in successfully bringing the Jamaican and US athletics teams to Birmingham to train for the 2012 Olympics. He was later given a top honour by the Jamaican government in recognition of the part played by Birmingham in the success of their major athletes including Usain Bolt.
Lord Whitby has also played his part in the economic life of the West Midlands region. He was a board member of the Advantage West Midlands (the former regional development agency), President of Marketing Birmingham, Chairman of Birmingham Science Park, and a key figure in the creation of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and is currently Chairman and Managing Director of Skeldings, an established 105 year old local engineering company, winner of a Birmingham Post Business Award.
As a University which seeks to play an active role in the West Midlands region, we were pleased to be able to develop our links with Birmingham while Lord Whitby was Leader of Birmingham Council. In 2012, for example, Warwick Business School organised ‘Business Breakfasts’ in Birmingham whose audiences included senior members of Birmingham city council; the Business School was also the academic partner for Birmingham Future’s Commission, looking at the future of the city and its appeal for young professionals. And, of course, Warwick scientists have been collaborating with colleagues from the University of Birmingham in the Science City initiative – a region-wide partnership of public sector, business and the research base. Our aim in all this has been to put Warwick expertise at the disposal of the city of Birmingham to improve the quality of life and prosperity of the West Midlands, reflecting what has been the driving force behind Mike Whitby’s long record of service to his city and region.
Mr Provost, in the name of the Senate I present to you for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Michael Whitby.
This oration was given by Professor Christina Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning).