The honorands at Encaenia, June 2015
The honorands at Encaenia, June 2015
From left: Professor Sir Richard Evans, Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Professor Wallace Broecker, Professor Ruth Simmons, Dame Hilary Mantel and Professor Sir Magdi YacoubCredit: John Cairns

Encaenia and Honorary degrees 2015

Six honorary degrees were conferred by the Chancellor of the University, Lord Patten of Barnes, at Encaenia on 24 June 2015.

The Honorands were:

Professor Sir Richard Evans

Doctor of Letters, honoris causa


Professor Sir Richard Evans read modern history at Jesus College, Oxford, of which he is now an honorary fellow, before moving to St Antony’s College, Oxford, for his doctorate. His early work focused on social and political movements in Imperial and Weimar Germany. He taught at the University of Stirling before moving to the University of East Anglia, where he became Professor of European History in 1983. In 1989 he was appointed Professor of History, then Vice-Master, at Birkbeck, University of London, and in 1998 became Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. In 2008 he was appointed Regius Professor of History at Cambridge – the first incumbent of that post to go through a conventional application and interview procedure. His many publications include Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years, 1830–1910 (1987), which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize and the William H Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine; Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany 1700–1987 (1996), and the short treatise In Defence of History (1997). His three-volume history of the Third Reich, published between 2003 and 2008, has become an international best-seller. He was the principal expert witness for the defence in the unsuccessful libel action brought by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books over allegations of Holocaust denial. Since 2000 he has served on the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel, adjudicating on claims from those who during the Nazi era were deprived of cultural objects now held in UK national collections. In 2010 Sir Richard became President of Wolfson College, Cambridge; he is now also Provost of Gresham College, London. A Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, the Royal Society of Literature and the Learned Society of Wales, he has been a judge of the Wolfson History Prize for over 20 years. He was knighted in 2012 for services to scholarship.

Dame Hilary Mantel

Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa


Dame Hilary Mantel was educated at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University, graduating in law in 1973. She worked as a teacher and a social worker, and lived for nine years in Africa and the Middle East. Her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985, followed by a sequel, nine further novels, two short story collections and a memoir, Giving Up The Ghost. She writes both historical and contemporary fiction, and her settings range from a South African township under apartheid (A Change of Climate), to rural Ireland in the eighteenth century (The Giant, O’Brien), revolutionary France (A Place of Greater Safety) and 20th-century Saudi Arabia (Eight Months on Ghazzah Street). She has also reviewed widely for publications in the UK and USA. She is the first female novelist to be awarded the Man Booker Prize twice, for her two most recent novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. They relate the career of Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who becomes Henry VIII’s most powerful minister. Wolf Hall won the 2009 Man Booker Prize, the inaugural Walter Scott Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the USA. In 2012 Bring Up The Bodies won the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book of the Year Award. Both novels have been adapted for stage and television. She is currently working on the final novel of the Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and The Light. In 2014 she published a book of short stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2006, for services to literature, and elevated to Dame Commander in 2014. In 2013 she was awarded the Bodley Medal, which is bestowed by the Bodleian Libraries on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of literature, culture, science and communication.

Professor Ruth Simmons

Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Former President, Brown University

Professor Ruth Simmons, born in Texas, received her undergraduate degree from Dillard University and a PhD in Romance languages and literatures from Harvard. In 1983, after serving as Associate Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Southern California, she moved to Princeton University, where she remained for seven years. After two years as Provost at Spelman College, she returned to Princeton as Vice-Provost in 1992. In 1993 she was invited to review the state of race relations on campus, which led to a number of new initiatives. She was appointed President of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States, in 1995. There she launched a number of important initiatives, including an engineering programme, the first at an American women’s college. In 2001 she became President of Brown University as well as Professor of Comparative Literature and African Studies. She stepped down from the presidency after 11 years in which Brown significantly improved its standing as one of the world’s leading research universities. Under her leadership, increased financial support and resources were made available to students, facilities were improved, a commitment to shared governance was renewed, and an emphasis was placed on diversity. Her many achievements have been recognised with awards such as the President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and Harvard University’s Centennial Medal. In 2011 she received the highest honour which the Brown faculty can bestow, the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal, and in 2012 she was named Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Philosophical Society and of the Council on Foreign Relations. Recently appointed a Trustee of Princeton University, she holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities.

Professor Wallace Broecker

Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa


Professor Wallace Broecker, received his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. He spent his career at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at that institution, latterly as Newberry Professor of Geology, where, at the age of 83, he continues to teach and carry out research. He is also a scientist at Columbia’s Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory. His main research interest lies in defining the ocean’s role in climate change. He was a pioneer in the use of radiocarbon and uranium series dating for mapping the Earth’s past climate fluctuations, and was the first to recognise the role of the Ocean Conveyor Belt, which he named and which is arguably the most important discovery in the history of oceanography. The author or co-author of over 500 journal articles and 14 books, his textbook Tracers in the Sea (1982), co-authored with Tsung-Hung Peng, influenced a generation of oceanographers and climate scientists. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences; a Foreign Member of the Royal Society; and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the European Geophysical Union. His many honours include the Crafoord Prize, the National Medal of Science, the Maurice W Ewing Medal of the American Geophysical Union, the Balzan Prize, the BBVA Foundation ‘Frontiers of Knowledge’ Award, the Alexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry, the VM Goldschmidt Award from the Geochemical Society, the Vetlesen Prize from the G Unger Vetlesen Foundation, the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London and the Roger Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union. He has also received the Tyler Prize, the Blue Planet Prize, the Franklin Institute Medal and the National Institute for Social Sciences Gold Medal. He is the recipient of honorary degrees from Penn State University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Cambridge.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling

Doctor of Science, honoris causa


Professor Dame Ann Dowling read for undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and a doctorate in engineering at the University of Cambridge. She has spent her career at that institution, rising to become its first female Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the first woman to head the Department of Engineering. Her research focuses on efficient, low-emission combustion for aero and industrial gas turbines and low-noise vehicles, especially aircraft and cars. Her publications range from problem-defining fundamental papers to descriptions of the technology behind successful practical applications. She has led major research collaborations into some of the big issues facing modern societies, such as the Energy Efficient Cities initiative and the Silent Aircraft Initiative. She ran the University Gas Turbine Partnership with Rolls–Royce for some 13 years, and has held visiting posts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. In 2014 she was appointed President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the first woman to hold that post. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering and of the French Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and of the Institution of Engineering Designers. She has served on a number of industry and government advisory committees. She is a non-executive director of BP plc and chairs their Technical Advisory Committee. She is also a non-executive member of the board of the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. A member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, Professor Dowling chaired the Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering Panel in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. In 2002 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to mechanical engineering, and was elevated to Dame Commander five years later for services to science.

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, OM

Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Cardiothoracic surgeon

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, born in Egypt, graduated from Cairo University Medical School in 1957 and trained in London and Chicago. A consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Harefield Hospital from 1969 to 2001 and at the Royal Brompton Hospital from 1986 to 2001, he also held the BHF Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Imperial College London for over 20 years. He established the largest heart and lung transplantation programme in the world, which has seen more than 2,500 transplant operations, and has pioneered novel surgical procedures for the treatment of many complex congenital heart conditions. He is currently Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, and Founder and Director of Research at the Harefield Heart Science Centre (Magdi Yacoub Institute), where he oversees over 60 scientists and students working in tissue engineering, myocardial regeneration, stem cell biology, end-stage heart failure and transplant immunology. He has supervised many higher degree students and published in excess of 1,000 articles. Sir Magdi has an active interest in global healthcare delivery with a particular focus on Egypt, the Gulf, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Burundi and Jamaica. He is founder and Director of the Magdi Yacoub Research Network, which has created the Qatar Cardiovascular Research Center in collaboration with the Qatar Foundation and the Hamad Medical Corporation. The charity Chain of Hope, which he founded and of which he is President, treats children with cardiac conditions from war-torn and developing countries and sets up training and research programmes in local cardiac units. Knighted for services to medicine and surgery in 1991, he was appointed to the Order of Merit in the 2014 New Year Honours list. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and of the Royal Society, and in 1999 was presented with a lifetime outstanding achievement award in recognition of his contribution to medicine by the Secretary of State for Health.