29 june 2011

Honorary degrees awarded at Encaenia

University

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Eight leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts, politics and the law, including ‘fifth Beatle’ George Martin and the President of Italy, were honoured at Encaenia on 29 June 2011.

Encaenia is the ceremony at which the University of Oxford awards honorary degrees to distinguished men and women and commemorates its benefactors. It is held every summer in the Sheldonian Theatre, presided over by the Chancellor, Lord Patten.

Honorands and senior members of the University, dressed in academic robes, always take part in a procession to the theatre, where they are greeted with a trumpet fanfare. This year, Christ Church cathedral choir sung in the ceremony, including a rendition of Yesterday in tribute to Sir George Martin. The University’s Public Orator, Richard Jenkyns, and Professor of Poetry, Sir Geoffrey Hill, delivered the Creweian Oration.

At a lunch after Encaenia students who had made contributions to society through volunteering were also honoured with Vice-Chancellor's Civic Awards.

This year’s honorands are:

Professor Elizabeth Helen Blackburn, molecular biologist and Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine (2009), who discovered telomerase, an enzyme critical to the reproductive process of gene cells. Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Justice Edwin Cameron, a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, a prominent human rights lawyer during apartheid and on issues around HIV, and the first senior South African official to state publicly that he was living with HIV. Degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa

Professor Sir Geoffrey Ernest Richard Lloyd, a historian whose scholarship examining the scientists of classical antiquity has made contributions to the study of ancient culture across a wide range of areas. Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Sir George Martin

Sir George Martin, producer of all but one of The Beatles’ albums and sometimes referred to as the ‘fifth Beatle’, who is considered one of the great music producers with more than 700 recordings to his credit and 30 number-one hits over more than 50 years. His career as composer and producer has spanned classical music, comedy and stage acts, and film soundtracks. Degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa

His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, President of Italy. Doctor of Civil Law by Diploma

Professor Dame Linda Partridge, a geneticist whose work on the fruit fly as a model for ageing has led to discoveries about the genes and biological processes that control the ageing process in all animals. Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Marilynne Summers Robinson, prize-winning American novelist and author of Gilead, Home, and Housekeeping. Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Professor Oliver Smithies, geneticist and Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine (2007), who jointly developed the technique of homologous recombination of transgenic DNA with genomic DNA, leading to the development of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice which fundamentally changed the science of genetic medicine and laid the foundation for today’s research into gene therapy. Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa