Image credit: John Cairns
The University of Oxford conferred honorary degrees on nine distinguished figures at the annual Encaenia ceremony on 22 June 2016.
Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa
Monsignor Professor Tomáš Halík is a Czech priest, theologian and author, and winner of the 2014 Templeton Prize. In the Communist era he studied theology clandestinely, was ordained in secret and worked in the underground Church with figures including Cardinal Tomášek, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia from 1977 to 1991 and Václav Havel, who was to become the first President of the Czech Republic. After the fall of communism, Halík became one of Havel’s advisors. In 1990, Pope John Paul II appointed him advisor to the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers and in 2008 Pope Benedict XVI granted him the title of Monsignor - Honorary Prelate of His Holiness. Monsignor Halík continues to take an active part in public life, opposing racial, national, religious and political intolerance. He is currently Professor of Sociology of Religion at Charles University, Pastor of the Academic Parish in Prague, and President of the Czech Christian Academy.
Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa
The Right Hon the Lord Mance, PC, is a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and High Steward of the University of Oxford. An alumnus of University College, Oxford, Lord Mance was called to the Bar in 1965. Appointed Queen's Counsel in 1982, he sat as a Recorder from 1990. He was appointed a High Court Judge in the Queen's Bench Division in 1993, a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1999 and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 2005. When in 2009 the Supreme Court replaced the House of Lords as the United Kingdom's highest Appellate Court, he became a Justice of the Supreme Court. He has made significant contributions to legal scholarship, both through his judgments and his lectures, many of which have been published as journal articles. He has made a particular contribution to comparative law, encouraging its use in the Supreme Court as an aid in relation to novel or particularly difficult issues of law. He has worked on enforcing laws and protecting human rights in the Great Lakes region of Africa. In 2008 he led an international delegation reporting on the problems of impunity in relation to violence against women in the Congo. He was appointed High Steward of the University in 2012.
Doctor of Letters, honoris causa
The Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar rose to international prominence with Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988), which was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA. His other films include ¡Átame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! 1990), La Flor de Mi Secreto (The Flower of My Secret, 1995), Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother,1999), Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her, 2002), Volver (2006), and La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, 2011). His new film, Julieta, is released in the UK in August. His many awards include two Oscars, five BAFTAs, six European Film Awards and two Golden Globes.
Professor Paul Krugman is Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for his work on international trade theory. He has held academic positions at MIT, the LSE, Yale and Stanford and Princeton and served as an economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author or editor of more than 25 books and more than 200 journal articles; his 2008 work, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 was a New York Times bestseller. In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contributions to trade theory and his application of spatial modelling to international trade, finance, and the clustering of industrial activity. He is well-known for his work as a commentator and writer for a general audience and is a columnist for The New York Times. He has also written for Fortune, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Newsweek and Slate and has appeared on a number of broadcast outlets.
The Japanese architect Professor Kazuyo Sejima is co-founder and principal of the award-winning architectural firm SANAA. Significant projects by SANAA in Japan include the O-Museum, the Christian Dior Building, the N-museum, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which won the Golden Lion at the Ninth International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2004. In North America, her buildings include the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art and New York's New Museum of Contemporary Art, while in Europe she has been responsible for the Rolex Learning Center at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and the Louvre-Lens in northern France. In 2010 Professor Sejima became the first female director of Venice's Architecture Biennale and in the same year she was awarded, with Ryue Nishizawa, architecture’s highest accolade, the Pritzker. She has recently been commissioned to design a new Japanese express train which, with its highly-polished reflective surfaces and curved edges, is designed to blend into the surrounding landscape. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Japan Women's University and teaches at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Polytechnic University of Milan.
Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Dr Cornelia Bargmann is a neurobiologist, Torsten N Wiesel Professor at Rockefeller University and winner of the Benjamin Franklin Medal. Her research in neurobiology deals with the behaviour of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. She discovered that nematodes have a very sophisticated sense of smell, establishing its neuronal and molecular basis. She demonstrated the first known link between an odorant – diacetyl, the familiar scent of melted butter – and its receptor, and, by studying mutant worms that can detect odours but cannot tell them apart, she discovered a gene responsible for odour discrimination and determined how worms can recognise and distinguish among thousands of odours in their environment. In 2003 her lab discovered a 'matchmaker' signalling molecule, SYG-1, which directs nerve cells to form connections with each other as they develop. She is also one of the main architects of the US BRAIN Initiative, a technology-driven project aimed at mapping the human brain in action. She and her research group continue to develop and apply tools for studying neural circuits and behaviour in living organisms, such as advanced light microscopy, microfluidics, optogenetics and chemical genetics.
Professor Mildred Dresselhaus is a physicist and Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is also Professor Emerita of Physics and Electrical Engineering. Her research on magneto-optics led to a fundamental understanding of the electronic structure of semi-metals, especially graphite. She also demonstrated the symmetry of single-wall nanotubes and how to calculate their electronic structure. Her recent work on the semiconductive properties of carbon nanotubes opens new possibilities in nanotechnology, and other recent research holds exciting promise for energy-related applications. She is a leading public advocate for women in engineering and science. In 2014 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014) for 'deepening our understanding of condensed matter systems and the atomic properties of carbon — which has contributed to major advances in electronics and materials research.'
Sir Jonathan Ive is Chief Design Officer of Apple Inc and designer of the iMac, PowerBook, iBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad, AppleWatch and MacBook. Six of his products appear in the permanent collections of New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In 2012, he received San Francisco MoMA's Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2013 he was awarded a gold Blue Peter Badge. His others accolades include an Inaugural Medal (1999) and Benjamin Franklin Medal (2004) of the Royal Society of Arts, the Design Museum London's first Designer of the Year award (2003), the Design and Art Direction (D&AD) President's Award and the Royal Academy of Engineering's President's Medal (both 2005), and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s Product Design Award (2007). In 2012, D&AD named Sir Jonathan's team at Apple the Best Design Studio of the past 50 years. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Doctor of Music, honoris causa
The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is known for his characteristic tintinnabuli style, named for the Latin for 'little bells.' Tintinnabuli music can be defined as a distinct technique, which unites two lines of structure – melody and triad – into one inseparable ensemble. It creates an original duality of voices, the course and inner logic of which are defined by strict, even complicated, mathematical formulas. His best-known works include Fratres, Spoegel im Spiegel, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten and Tabula rasa. He has been awarded the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. His many awards include two Classical Brit Awards (2003, 2011), the Léonie Sonning Music Prize (2008) and the Premium Imperiale (2014).
Ms Jessye Norman, the soprano, concert and opera singer, was regrettably unable to attend Encaenia this year.