Oxford University Gazette

Encaenia 1998: Speeches by the Public Orator

Dr A.J. DOREY

Registrar of the University 1979--98

Quid agit Registrarius? quem registrum custodire, registrum autem librum esse, in quo res gestae describantur, nemo est quin coniciat sane, si forte non norit. sed in Universitatis statutis huius magistratus officia sic definiuntur ut registri istius mentionem non nisi septimo tandem loco invenire possimus. quid igitur primo? hunc scilicet a secretis esse hominibus delectis qui singulas Academiae partes procurent, insignissimo Vice-Cancellario et spectabili Consilio Hebdomadali gravissimum esse et deliberandi et agendi auctorem, omnium denique libertorum ministrorum scribarum esse nauarchum, quo gubernante navis nostra cursum teneat rectum atque felicem. at enim haec fieri vix sensimus, ipsum Registrarium numquam animadvertimus se de tanta et officiorum et potestatis amplitudine iactantem. nec mirum, cum sit dissimulator opis propriae; vir ceteroqui abstinentissimus hoc uno nomine est Epicureus, quod latere quam se venditare mavult, quodque auctoritatem suam quae maxima est ita censet esse adhibendam ut non nisi prudentibus adpareat. nam his quattuor lustris quantas procellas experti simus, quot tempestatibus iactata sit Academia, apud prudentes vix opus est ut enarrem: hoc tantum adfirmo, hunc in areis emendis in quibus aedificia exstruerentur, in professoribus quaerendis eligendis alliciendis, in sescentis aliis, gubernaculum rei publicae nostrae tam certa manu rexisse quam navigium illud suum quod viro in insula Sarnia nato occupationum levamen ac perfugium praebet acceptissimum. nunc igitur ut animum testemur gratissimum ei qui tot gradibus conferendis adfuit nunc gradum conferimus, eum qui infulis candidis ornatus diu familiarissimus erat nunc insolito more vestitum, toga scilicet purpurea, semel sane conspicuum reddimus.

Praesento virum qui summam auctoritatem insigni modestia condiit, Academiae columen, prudentiae specimen, Registrarium eximium, Alanum Dorey, Doctorem in Philosophia, Collegi de Pembrochia Socium honoris causa creatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.

Admission by the Chancellor

Vir de Oxoniensibus plurimis deque Academia tota optime merite, qui salubri tuo consilio toties nobis subvenisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.

Paraphrase

What does the Registrar do? It is not so hard to guess that he keeps the register, and that the register must record the University's doings (in Latin, res gestae); but in the list of his duties in the University Statutes the register is mentioned only in seventh place. He acts as Secretary of many of the main University committees; he is the main adviser of the Vice-Chancellor and Council on strategic planning; and he is the head of the administrative and clerical staff, responsible for keeping our ship of state on a correct and successful course. And yet in all these years we have never been aware of the Registrar drawing attention either to his powers or to his burdens. That is not surprising, as Dr Dorey is a man who loves understatement. A man by no means Epicurean in the ordinary sense, he agrees in one point at least with the philosopher Epicurus: a preference for the life that is unobtrusive. His authority is great, and rightly so, but he prefers to use it in such a way that it is recognised only by the perceptive and the well informed. Such people do not need to be reminded of the rough weather which the University has experienced in the last eighteen years, or of the debt which it has owed Dr Dorey as it navigated those storms. He has handled matters which have ranged all the way from the Buildings Committee to the election of Professors and the negotiation of terms on which they would come to Oxford; and he has done it all with a hand as steady as that with which he steers his much loved boat, which has provided this Guernsey man with his favourite relief from the stress of his position. To mark our gratitude, the man who has attended so many honorary degree ceremonies now receives an honorary degree himself, not wearing his familiar white Geneva bands, but in the unfamiliar splendour of the DCL robe, as we oblige him to be, for once, conspicuous.

I present a man who has seasoned his authority with modesty, a pillar of the University, a paragon of wisdom, a Registrar extraordinary, Dr Alan Dorey, Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

Admission by the Chancellor

You have earned many individual debts of gratitude, as well as the collective esteem of Oxford. Your wise advice has constantly sustained the University. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

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