The honorands at the 2017 Encaenia
The honorands at the 2017 Encaenia

Photograph by John Cairns.

Seven eminent figures awarded honorary degrees at Encaenia

Seven individuals were honoured for their outstanding contribution to the arts, science and public life at Oxford University's annual Encaenia ceremony, which took place on 21st June 2017. 


Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa

Bryan A Stevenson is a lawyer and social justice activist who has campaigned for fair treatment of children and minorities in the US criminal justice system. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal representation to those who may have been denied a fair trial. He has been awarded the Olof Palme Prize for international human rights, the Gruber Justice Prize and the Four Freedoms Award. 

Shirley Williams, Rt Hon Baroness Williams of Crosby CH PC, has had a distinguished career in both politics and academia. Elected as a Labour MP in 1964, she held a number of ministerial, shadow cabinet and cabinet roles, serving as Secretary of State for Education and Science in the Callaghan government. In 1981 she was one of the so-called Gang of Four who broke from Labour to form the Social Democratic Party; she went on to lead the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. She has also been Professor of Elective Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford, where she read PPE, as well as an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge and Professor Emerita at Harvard Kennedy School.

Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Dr Robert Darnton is a cultural historian and academic librarian, who researches the history of the book and the culture of 18th-century France. He is an emeritus professor at Harvard University, where he has also worked as director of the Harvard University Library. He is a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur and Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, where he studied for a DPhil as a Rhodes Scholar.

Frank Gehry is an architect known for his postmodern style and use of unconventional building materials. His most famous works include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. He has been awarded the Pritzker Prize, the RIBA Gold Medal and the Americans for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Professor Eugene Braunwald is a cardiologist who has studied many areas of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease and heart failure. He is the editor of Braunwald’s Heart Disease, now in its 10th edition. He is Distinguished Hersey Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American College of Cardiology and the Gold Medal of the European Society of Cardiology

Professor Joan Argetsinger Steitz is Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. Her discoveries in RNA processing have clarified several crucial biological processes, such as the way proteins are formed. She has been awarded the Gairdner Foundation International Award and the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, and is a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.

Doctor of Music, honoris causa

Professor Judith Weir CBE is a composer and Master of the Queen’s Music. She has written in many forms but is best known for her operas, including The Vanishing BridegroomBlond Eckbert and Armida. She has been awarded the Elise L Stoeger Prize, the Queen’s Medal for Music and the Ivor Novello Classical Music Award. Her setting of Love bade me welcome was performed at the ceremony by the choir of Keble College.