14 february 2005

2005 honorary degrees announced

Leading figures from the arts, as well as politics, science and business, are among the international group of 10 men and women who are set to receive honorary degrees from the University this year, subject to approval by Congregation. They are:

Degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa:

Dr Manmohan Singh, the 14th Prime Minister of India, studied at Punjab University, Cambridge, and finally Oxford where he completed a DPhil in Economics. After a career in academia, he has held a number of political and economic appointments in India and at international organisations including Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Sir William Castell, LVO, FCA, Vice-Chairman of the General Electric Company and CEO of GE Healthcare, was knighted in June 2000 for services to the life sciences industry. Previously he worked for Wellcome plc and its successor the Wellcome Foundation, working his way up from industrial trainee to Commercial Director. He was Chairman of The Prince's Trust from 1998-2003, and also of Regeneration Through Heritage. He is a Trustee of the Natural History Museum, London.

Dr Oliver Sacks, BM, B.CH, writer and Clinical Professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, is perhaps best known through his book 'Awakenings' which was adapted for the stage and also became an Oscar-nominated film. His work has focused on the ways in which individuals survive and adapt to different neurological diseases and conditions, and what this experience can tell us about the human mind.

Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa:

Sir Anthony Leggett, FRS, John D and Catherine T MacArthur Chair and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2003 for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids. He is lecturing this month in Oxford, where he gained two undergraduate degrees: the first in Literae Humaniores (1959), and the second in Physics (1961), followed by a doctorate in Theoretical Physics.

Dr Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, FRS, Director of the Department of Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Development Biology, was one of three people to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995 for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development. Her 1980 paper 'Mutations Affecting Segment Number and Polarity in Drosophila', co-authored with Eric Wieschaus, revolutionised the field of developmental genetics.

Sir Michael Rutter, CBE, MD, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci, FRS, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, is one of the most influential figures in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry and developmental psychopathology. His research has explored resilience in relation to stress, reading difficulties, psychiatric genetics, the effects of deprivation on Romanian orphan adoptees and psychiatric epidemiology.

Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa:

Dame Gillian Beer, FBA, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature Emerita, Former President of Clare Hall, Cambridge, is the author of books including Darwin's Plots and Experimental Islands, making her an important academic figure in the science/humanities interface. She has been a Booker Prize judge, Vice-President of the British Academy from 1994 to 1996, and Chairman of the Poetry Book Society (1992-6).

Mr Ken Loach studied law at Oxford before pursuing a career as a director - working first with a repertory theatre company and then directing for television, where his projects included the pioneering drama Cathy Come Home. He made his feature debut Poor Cow in 1967, followed soon after by Kes, which is now acclaimed as one of the finest films ever made in Britain. He has been feted for his work, including the Cannes Special Jury Prize in 1993 for Raining Stones.

Ms Toni Morrison, MA, began her career as an academic and publisher, but is best known as a writer, making her debut as a novelist in 1970. Her novels, including Song of Solomon and Beloved, have won both critical acclaim and a wide readership with their expressive depictions of Black America. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

Ms Paula Rego moved from Portugal to begin her artistic studies at the Slade in 1952, where she later taught. Her works, including the 1986 series Girl and Dog and the 1989 suite of etchings Nursery Rhymes, examine notions of childhood innocence. In 1990 she was chosen as the National Gallery Artist in Residence, and recently exhibited a collection of pastel-based works at Tate Britain.

Eight of the honorands will be awarded their honorary degrees at Encaenia, the University's annual honorary degree ceremony, on Wednesday 22 June. Ken Loach's honorary degree will be conferred on 29 September 2005, and Dr Manmohan Singh will receive his honorary degree on a date to be agreed.