Encaenia 2004: Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4702

CONGREGATION 23 June

1 Conferment of Honorary Degrees

THE PUBLIC ORATOR made the following speeches in presenting the recipients of Honorary Degrees at the Encaenia held in the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday, 23 June:

Degree of Doctor of Civil Law

Sir Martin Wood, OBE, MA, FRS

Deputy Chairman, Oxford Instruments Group plc

Hoc quem produco, cum sit Academiarum alumnus et Cantabrigiensis et Londiniensis, neminem facile inveneritis cum hac nostra vinculis intimis coniunctiorem, qui iuvenis admodum laboratorio praeclaro illi adscitus Eduardi Comitis de Clarendon nomine nuncupato potestates magnesias, sic enim nominamus vim istam attrahendi hic illic in rerum natura obviam, ita corroboratas multiplicare studuerit, ut hominibus commodum esset qui frigidissimae cuique materiae laborem operam scientiam impendunt. quod cum successu praeclaro confecisset, ita his novis artibus abuti constituit ut quam plurimis prodessent; sociis igitur collectis, nam hic fere princeps in abstrusiori doctrina usui publico transferenda negotiatores invocavit, mercaturam condidit, instrumenta fabricanda curavit vi magnetica instincta quibus Aesculapi ministri in aegrotantibus tractandis uterentur. quae instrumenta medicis ubique iam praesto sunt, mirum igitur non est opificibus influxisse maximam pecuniae summam, cum praecipue hic ceteris viam demonstrarit qua Musae illae austerae quae Academias incolunt gyro quodam evolare, communi servire commodo possent. rem quae senibus severioribus haud omnino placebat tam luculenter processisse gaudemus, praesertim cum hic et peritia et prudentia sua usus, haudquaquam eo contentus quod ceterorum animos famae ac pecuniae spe arrectos excitavit, sed cum amicitiis externis ornatus sit amplissimis homines physicos nostros et saepissime adiuvit praesidio pretiosissimo et suo et amicorum, et consiliarius noster rite creatus consilium benevolentissimum sapientissimumque largitur, neque hoc mehercle ullo modo praetereundum esse existimo, quod consilium atque benevolentiam suam re conroboravit: virum enim salutamus qui Academiae Oxoniensi, quam una cum ceteris nuper penuria et angustiis oppressam esse nemo non novit, haud semel tantum auxilio optatissimo, opibus largissimis subvenit. quibus omnibus cons entaneum est quod et nuper auditorium lautissimum pecunia sua aedificandum curavit, nomine suo nuncupatum, in quo rei physicae arcana iuvenibus studiosis nostris ceterisque pandantur, et vehementissime cetera provehit quibus freti cives nostri in investigationibus academicis occupati labore perseverent laudibus excellant.

Praesento virum optime et de hac Academia et de hominibus scientiae deditis meritum, cuius beneficiis cotidie efficitur ut physicae studia apud nos tam amplo successu floreant, Martinum Wood, Equitem Auratum, Excellentissimo Ordini Imperi Britannici adscriptum, Magistrum in Artibus, Societatis Regiae Sodalem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.


Admission by the Chancellor

Et Academiae et hominum academicorum amice generosissime, qui studiis nostris benevolentia consilio labore et subvenisti et subvenis, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure civili honoris causa.


Paraphrase

Sir Martin Wood, whom I now bring forward, is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and of London, but it would be hard to find anyone who has been more intimately connected with Oxford. He worked in the Clarendon Laboratory on the production of magnetic fields of unprecedented power; this formed part of the intensive work then being done in very low temperature physics. Success in this area was followed by the decision to develop this technology for the good of the community. He assembled commercial associates in a company which used the new magnets in the manufacture of instruments for medical purposes. They are now used by doctors universally, so that it is not surprising that the process proved extremely profitable. Sir Martin was among the first to exploit University research and to allow the austere Muses of Academe to spin off in this way. There were some raised eyebrows in old fashioned circles, but we must be delighted that it has proved such a brilliant success, the more so as Sir Martin, not content with giving encouragement both practical and psychological, has placed his experience and ingenuity at the service of our Department of Physics, both informally and as a member of our external advisory body, and has given it the invaluable benefit of the wise and valuable experience of himself and of his very wide range of important friendships and contacts. I must not omit to say that he has confirmed this generosity with advice and good will in very practical ways: we greet today a man who has come repeatedly to the aid of Oxford University, which we all know has been suffering, like the rest of higher education, from acute shortage of funds, with financial assistance that has been very generous and extremely welcome. As part of that assistance he has recently provided funds for the construction of the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, in which the secrets of physics will be imparted to undergraduates and others; and he has been a committed supporter of the excellence and the reputation of Oxford in research.

I present Sir Martin Wood, OBE, MA, FRS, a benefactor of the University and of those engaged in scientific research, whose benefactions ensure that our studies in Physics continue to enjoy such great success, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Admission by the Chancellor

You are a most generous friend of our University and its academic staff; your good will, your advice, and your hard work, have been and continue to be of the highest value to us. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


The Rt. Hon. Lord Woolf, FBA

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Locum in hominum honorandorum agmine alterum sibi vindicat vir magistratum inter iudices merito consecutus amplissimum, cum non tantum in iudiciis ita legum maiestatem sustentaverit ut improbos punierit innocentes defenderit, verum etiam de legum severitate cum lenitate temperanda orationes gravissimas habuerit, quas maximo fructu ipsi iudices lectitant. neque virum produco a nobis Oxoniensibus alienum, qui Collegi de Nuffield olim Visitator fuerit, illis autem interfuerit qui studia Hebraica nostra curanda sumpserunt; nam quod decem annos continuos Academiae Londiniensi pro Cancellario rem summa cum laude gessit, praetereo. longum esset, si conarer huius et laborum et honorum persequi cursum, qui adeo se praestiterit non tantum in legum studio eruditissimum verum etiam, quod ut rarius, ita gravius est, ita rei publicae denique magis necessarium, in universa puniendi ratione aestimanda inque salute publica defendenda prudentissimum. non deesse homines quosdam scimus omnes, immo potentia quadam ac gratia apud plebem saepe pollere, qui civium suorum iram timores ultionem commodi sui causa excitent hortentur exerceant; litteram funestam istam c non tantum Condemno interpretantur verum etiam carcerem crudelitatem carnificium; flagellum diligunt, tormenta ac crucem somniant. cui hominum generi hic quem produco adversarium se constantissimum praestitit, qui serio sibi quaerendum proposuerit quid boni, quid mali re vera efficiat remedium tam atrox tamque populare, nocentes scilicet in carcerem coniectos quam diutissime detinere; quod si iracundia remota animo consideras aequo, mirum est quam non sit efficax, persaepe enim ei quos diu in custodia retinemus, cum sint tandem soluti, iterum peccant iterum condemnantur, cives autem ipsi tam immanem tamque inhumanam rationem refugiant, politiores vero exquirendum esse existiment et quare scelera admittantur et quae sit iustitiae ipsius forma. itaque hic et scriptis gravissimis rem tam implicatam inluminavit et in iudiciis exemplum dedit luculentissimum quo adducti ceteri iudices poenarum rationem penitus consideraverunt.

Praesento virum valde honorandum Henricum, Baronem Woolf de Barnes, Angliae et Cambriae Dominum Iusticiarium Principem, Academiae Britannicae Socium honoris causa adscitum, praemiis plurimis cumulatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.


Admission by the Chancellor

Iudex eminentissime, de iuris notione deque ipsius iustitiae terminis subtilissime ratiocinate, qui in tot tamque egregiis laboribus hoc tibi semper proposuisti, ut nocentes ita puniantur ut civitas nihil iracundia expressum, nihil maiestate sua indignum agat, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.


Paraphrase

Next place in our procession of honorands is claimed by a man who has deservedly obtained the very highest position in the judiciary. He has upheld the majesty of the law, seeing to it that the guilty are punished and the innocent defended; in addition, he has spoken with authority on the tempering of justice with leniency, utterances which have carried great weight with judges. He is no stranger to Oxford, having been for a time Visitor of Nuffield College, and having played an important role among those who teach Hebrew here. He was also for ten years a highly successful Chancellor of London University; but of that I say nothing. If I were to set out the whole career of Lord Woolf, both in terms of work done and of honours received, this speech would go on far too long. He has proved to be learned in the law; what is more important, less common, and of supreme value to society, he has shown great wisdom in considering the whole question of the rationale of punishment and the defence of the community. We all know that there are plenty of people, some of them very influential, who for their own purposes play on and excite the public's anger, fear, and desire for revenge. The Romans used the letter c, when a jury voted, to signify condemno, `I find the defendant guilty'. These contemporaries seem to want it to stand additionally for cruelty, capital punishment, and the cat; they dream of the gallows and are in love with the lash. Lord Woolf has been their consistent opponent, insisting on the serious question: How far, in reality, would such remedies, popular but inhumane, do good, and how far harm? Should we be well advised, for instance, to throw criminals into prison for enormously long sentences, or not? If the question is considered coolly and dispassionately, it is striking how ineffective long terms of imprisonment really are. Those we condemn to them come out, as a rule, more hardened than they went in: they offend again and are again locked up. Meanwhile society itself now shrinks from inhuman and ferocious punishments, while the experts insist that we should be enquiring why crimes are committed, and what is the real nature of justice. Lord Woolf's thoughtful publications have shed valuable light on these very difficult questions; his conduct on the bench has set a splendid example for judges to follow in considering sentences.

I present Harry, Lord Woolf of Barnes, FBA, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the recipient of many distinctions, for the award of the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.


Admission by the Chancellor

You are a most eminent judge; you have discussed with great subtlety the basic concepts of law and of justice. In all your many valuable labours you have always taken as your goal that the punishment of the guilty should not mean that the community acts in anger or does anything unworthy of itself. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.


Degree of Doctor of Letters

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, MA, FBA

Professor of Economics, Columbia Business School

Virum produco nobiscum vinculo intimo coniunctum, oeconomiae enim politicae quam appellant studiosos e cathedra olim Oxoniensi erudiebat; sed neque una academia neque uno vitae genere contineri potest hic qui sic Platonis illius imperio obsecutus ut apud Americanos saepius contingit, alibi non nisi perraro invenimus, ita in hac umbratili atque theoretica vita excellit ut idem munera summae auctoritatis obierit publica, invitantibus quidem non solum patriae suae magistratibus verum etiam Universis Nationibus, quas haud facile induci ut quicquam una gerant nemo fere ignorat. in animo mihi erat hanc laudationem incipienti huius honores notiones scripta percurrere, audientibus summatim saltem explicare; sed vereor ne tam inlustri nominum serie recitata tantaque ingeni ubertate patefacta oculos mentis magis praestringere quam inluminare videar. missum igitur facio academiarum catalogum quae hunc sive praemiis sive gradu honoris causa conlato insigniverunt; unum excipio praemium quod praeterire non possum: Nobelianum enim illud tres annos abhinc plaudentibus hominibus oeconomicis universis accepit. sed nolo hunc vobis fingatis oeconomicorum istorum gregi pertinere qui potentioribus adsentiant, id genus consilium proferant quod prodesse ditioribus noverint: meminerunt sane prudentiores hunc Trapezae Universali olim consiliarium fuisse principem, idcirco autem tam splendidum magistratum deposuisse, quod conlegae nonnulli, dogmate quodam nimis austero inretiti, populis paupertate laborantibus aeris alieni onus mitigare, liberiores quasdem condiciones concedere recusavissent, quibus freti se illis angustiis expedire potuissent. idem Aerarium Pecuniarium Commune, quorum rectores nonnumquam extra rationes fisci saniores videntur errare, somniis commenticiis omissis rem agere consilio saluberrimo, verbis gravissimis hortatus est: aliter enim cernit vir humanissimus haud fieri posse ut gentibus pauperioribus id genus auxili conferatur quo opus esse cognovimus. virum enim produco qui rem oeconomicam et mathematicorum calculos, cum sit ipse ingeniosissimus, haudquaquam sui causa putat esse tractandos, verum ut saluti felicitati valetudini humanae consulatur.

Praesento artis oeconomicae magistrum incomparabilem, cum in theoria tum in usu exercitatissimum, Iosephum Stiglitz, Magistrum in Artibus, Academiae Britannicae Socium, praemio Nobeliano nobilitatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.


Admission by the Chancellor

Vir de scientia reconditiori optime merite, doctrinae subtilioris auctor oculatissime, qui in genus humanum beneficia contulisti efficacissima, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.


Paraphrase

The next candidate to be brought forward has very close links with Oxford, having once held our Chair of Political Economy; but he is not the sort of man to be closely tied to one University or to a single career path. He follows, in fact, the famous injunction of Plato, combining excellence in theoretical and academic studies with a distinguished role in public life: a combination perhaps more frequently encountered in the United States than elsewhere. He has indeed responded to invitations not only from his own government but also from the United Nations, and we all know how hard it is to induce that body to agree on anything. I did think of beginning my presentation by going through Professor Stiglitz' career, his thought, his published work, and the distinctions conferred upon him; but I fear that so long a list of names, such a richness of ideas, would leave an audience not so much enlightened as dazzled. I therefore pass over the recital of the learned bodies who have conferred on him prizes and degrees, with the exception of one, which it has proved impossible to omit: three years ago he was awarded the Nobel Prize, to general satisfaction. You are not to imagine Professor Stiglitz as the sort of economist who curries favour with the powerful and offers the advice which he knows will attract the rich: the well informed remember that he was at one time Chief Economist at the World Bank, and that he resigned that distinguished position because his colleagues, trapped in an excessively rigid dogma, would not reduce the burden of debt under which poorer countries were struggling by offering more liberal terms which could have enabled them to free themselves. He has been tireless in his criticism of the International Monetary Fund, whose policies have sometimes seemed to depart from rationality, urging them, in powerful words of healthy counsel, to abandon their artificial theories and get on with more realistic plans; it is his enlightened view that no other approach will make possible the kind of assistance which we know that underdeveloped nations need. Himself an accomplished mathematician and theorist, he does not regard these activities as ends in themselves, but as subordinate to human prosperity, well being, and happiness.

I present Joseph Stiglitz, MA, FBA, Nobel laureate, incomparable in his mastery of economics, equally at home both in theoretical studies and in their practical application, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.


Admission by the Chancellor

Your services to pure knowledge are very great; you are the source of subtle work in theory, and you have conferred most effective practical benefits on mankind. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Professor Marilyn Strathern, DBE, FBA

Mistress of Girton College and William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Quid est homo? qua ratione debemus, cum simus hodie in tot tamque abstrusis scientiae provinciis versatissimi, ipsius generis humani indolem societates mores intellegere conari? quaestio est scilicet vetustissima, cum olim Apollo ille Delphicus notissimum istud Nosce te ipsum ex adyto pronuntiaverit. deus autem propheticus, qua erat et dignitate et sapientia, ab investigationibus perplexis aque laboribus taedii repletis abhorrebat sine quibus vix possis gentibus longinquis mentibusque alienis lumen infundere; nos homunculi, si doctrinam solidam ac veram volumus adsequi, plus perseverantiae, plus mehercle acuminis adferre debemus. nec quidem pauci sunt ei qui se tam amplo scientiae generi contulerunt, inter quos haec quam produco nemini secunda exstitit et doctrinae copia et ingeni viribus, quae haud minus luculento successu cum silvarum remotissimarum, tum oppiduli Britannici incolas acie perspicacissima observarit, ingenio subtilissimo intellexerit, scriptis denique explicarit doctis, Iuppiter et laboriosissimis. nam quae hominum aboriginum Papuanorum studiosam se praestitit, eadem nostratium quoque mores a se haud alienos esse declarat sed paribus modis, eadem aequabilitate explicandos sibi sumit. hic rogabit aliquis fortasse cur apud homines silvestris sibi quisque membra pingendo pungendo formando decoret et immutet: haec librum scripsit lepidissimum quo quaestionem totam excutit. donandi morem ac donorum rationes, argumentum permagnae et gravitatis et difficultatis, ita tractavit ut nemo fere alius; viros primarios a viris vere magnis distinxit fastidio delicatissimo; de familiarum rationibus deque consanguinitate doctissime disseruit, neque quemquam inveneris qui clarius explicet quo modo in vicis et in rure vivatur, quid sentiant rustici nostri, quali societatis genere inter se coniuncti sibi esse videantur. eadem id quaestionum genus, hodie tam strenue passim disputatum, quod ad virum mulierumque amicitias simultates communem denique vivendi rationem pertinet, ita scriptis illuminavit et numero et acumine praeclaris ut numquam omnino quendam sexus sui patronatum defensionemque deponat. neque spinossimas istas quaestiones neglexit quas secum attulerunt recentissima ista inventa quae pueros aliter procreant quam genitorem cum genetrice coniungendo; Pyrrham enim hodie quodam modo renatam esse nemo nescit, quae sola secum vagata infantes lapidibus sparsim abiectis produxit in luminis oras. unum addo: hanc Universitatem suam, ne dicam universas, ita defendisse ut scribis superbientibus demonstrarit non deesse structuram definitam, intelligibilem ordinem.

Praesento mentis humanae scrutatricem ingeniosissimam, hominum exterorum observatricem oculatissimam, societatis nostrae explicatricem eloquentissimam, Marilyn Strathern, Excellentissimi Ordinis Imperi Britannici Dominam Commendatricem, Academiae Britannicae Sociam, apud Cantabrigienses Anthropologiae Professorem et eandem Collegi de Girton Magistram, ut admittatur ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.


Admission by the Chancellor

Femina praestantissima, quae ita de feminarum loco moribus vita disseruisti ut utrumque sexum inluminaveris, ita homines remotissimos inspexisti ut nostrates non neglexeris, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.


Paraphrase

What is man? We live in an age of great sophistication in very many areas of knowledge; how are we to make the effort to understand human nature, society, and customs? The question is a very ancient one. Long ago, the god Apollo, from his shrine at Delphi, uttered the memorable command, Know thyself. The prophetic god, in his wisdom and his majesty, showed no taste for the complex questions and exhaustive researches without which it is hardly possible to shed any light on the alien thought world of distant peoples; we poor mortals, if we want to attain any substantial and enduring insights, must show application as well as intellectual power. There have been many researchers who have indeed brought both to the important discipline of anthropology. Professor Strathern, whom I now present, has proved herself second to none, both in learning and in analytic ability. She has achieved equally fine results in the analysis of the inhabitants of distant jungles and in that of an English town: bringing to bear, in both cases, acute observation, perceptive understanding, and description which combines erudition with hard thought. A distinguished student of the peoples of Papua New Guinea, she has shown that our insular ways, too, are no strangers to her, but to be treated with the same methods and the same freedom from prejudice. The question, for instance, may be asked, why Papuans and others go in for body decoration and tattooing; Professor Strathern has published a fascinating book on Self-Decoration. She has devoted to the question of giving gifts, as important as it is difficult, a treatment of unequalled illumination. There is nobody who has done more to illuminate the mental world of village life and the sense of community possessed by dwellers in the English countryside. She has pointed out the distinction between Big Men and Great Men, and she has done distinguished research on family relations and consanguinity. In the area of the relations of the sexes, nowadays so hotly disputed, she has produced a large body of highly illuminating work, always marked by a certain feminist interest. She has not shrunk from the problems thrown up by recent work on the technology of reproduction and artificial insemination: studies which recall the Pyrrha of mythology, who repeopled the world after the flood by throwing stones, which turned into human beings. I add one more thing: she has come to the defence of this University, and of all Universities, by pointing out that they do not lack coherent and intelligible structure, as was being alleged by some over-confident civil servants.

I present Professor Marilyn Strathern, DBE, FBA, a keen eyed analyst of the human mind, an acute observer of other societies, and a powerful explainer of our own, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.


Admission by the Chancellor

Your work has done much to help us to understand the natural history of the sex of which you are a distinguished ornament; you have illuminated women's position, their habits, and their lives. Acting on my own authority and on that of the whole University, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.


Degree of Doctor of Science

Professor Suzanne Cory, AC, FRS

Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Haec quam produco ita se ad medicinae studium adplicavit ut cum ipsa inventis quam gravissimis reportatis inter morborum exploratores locum consecuta sit principem, tum ceterorum quoque labores operamque communem summa prudentia, insigni diligentia dirigat. morbi autem genus unum est cuius ne nomen quidem toleramus nos timidiores: quis enim non formidine quadam commovetur, quoties vel in hominibus alienissimis

malum late dolet inmedicabile cancer
serpere et inlaesis vitiatas addere partes?

ut Nasonis poetae verbis utar. quod cum nondum devictum sit atque prostratum, tamen cotidie progredi medicorum artes, paulatim crescere videmus scientiam qua morbo tam exitiali aliquando remedium reperietur; etenim pestis idcirco praecipue impotentis quod se tam variam tamque multiformem praestat nonnulla iam genera tractando curare didicimus, hac praesertim signifera ac magistra, quae cum olim in novo et tum nuper reperto medicinae genere industriam locavisset, una cum marito corpuscula quaedam in compage humana abundantia scrutabatur, structuram observabat, usum intelligebat quo luem istam oppugnare ac pedetemptim superare possemus. corpuscula enim minutissima, quae genitalem cuiusque originem destinant, alias diffringi et dissipari, alias conglutinari ac coalescere posse animadverterunt, quibus ratione ingeniosissima excogitata ita abuti coeperant ut morborum contagionem avertere, aegrotantibus immunitatis ac salutis condicionem adferre possent adhuc inauditam. quibus inventis non dum contenti, sed ad ipsius cancri latibulum progressi, plus etiam profecerunt: ut pauca e multis exempla mihi sumam, et in ipsis vitae primordiis lymphomatis quod dicitur causam in eo invenerunt, quod mutantur inter se modo insolito atque perverso elementa quae infantis nascentis membra constituunt, et volnera detegebant quae inclinatione quadam insita animantis corpus ita disponunt ut iam non valeat cancrum repellere suis viribus, protegere contra incipiat atque nutrire. quibus beneficiis accedit quod totam cancri notionem qualem mentibus formaveramus more saluberrimo commutare coegerunt: corpusculum enim genitale agnoverunt quod ipsas cellulas quibus consistimus omnes animantes, ita scilicet natas ut post certum quoddam tempus pereant, mori vetat, diutius vivere cogit quam bene saneque possint: his tandem cellulis, morti debitae superstitibus, effici ut corpus humanum tuberibus mortiferis obnoxium fiat; contra eodem invento fieri ut cancri ipsius insidiis successu longe meliori resisti possit.

Praesento sanitatis humanae observatricem acutissimam, explicatricem eloquentissimam, protrectricem potentissimam, Susannam Cory, Australiae Comitem, Societatis Regiae Sociam, praemiis plurimis ornatam, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.


Admission by the Chancellor

Aesculapi famula eminentissima, quae dedita opera, ingenio excellenti vitam nostram contra morbum invisissimum defendere laboras, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.


Paraphrase

Professor Suzanne Cory is a medical scientist who has been responsible herself for discoveries of the highest significance; she is also a most inspiring and hard working head of a team of researchers. Among diseases there is one whose very name is an object of terror to most of us. Who does not feel a thrill of fear when he hears, even in the case of complete strangers, about what the poet Ovid calls

The progress of that ill which can't be eased,
As healthy parts grow cancerous and diseased?

Cancer is not yet defeated and banished, but every day we see fresh signs of progress in medicine and a steady growth of the understanding which will eventually discover a cure for that most deadly illness. Already we can treat some forms of cancer, the treatment of which presents exceptional difficulty because it occurs in such widely different forms. Professor Cory has been at the head of these advances. In partnership with her husband she went into what was the new science of genetic engineering and the intense study of the genes which compose the human body. Research into their structure showed ways to meet and to begin the process of overcoming the scourge of cancer. The team observed that those microscopic particles which are fundamental to our physical existence can be fragmented and can combine; and they exploited this fact to devise a most ingenious technique for averting contagion and producing in patients a new standard of immunity and survival. This procedure made possible the successful treatment of many morbid conditions. The team went on to attack the central problem presented by cancer, and there too they have made most encouraging progress. I give a couple of examples. They discovered the origin of a lymphoma, caused by irregular and distorted genetic development in the unborn child, and they analysed the way in which injuries can dispose the chromosomes of the body so that they are no longer able to repel a cancer but actually begin to harbour and promote it. In addition to these achievements they have forced us to change our preconceived idea of cancer for something very much better. There is a gene which averts death from damaged and unhealthy cells in the body, which after a certain period are programmed to die. It prolongs their existence in a diseased state; and these are the cells which develop the tumours which set the patient on the road to his own death. This insight has made possible great strides in the struggle to resist and overcome the onset of cancer.

I present Professor Suzanne Cory, AC, FRS, keen eyed in the observation of human health, eloquent in its description, and powerful in its defence, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Admission by the Chancellor

You are a most eminent agent of Aesculapius; you have worked with tireless energy and keen intelligence against a detested disease. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, MA, D.PHIL., FRS

Wolfson Research Professor of the Royal Society, Leicester University

Virum produco valde Oxoniensem, Mertonensis enim est ad ungues, qui cum et in aliis civitatibus et in patria sua praemiis ceterisque honoribus cumulatus sit plurimis, tum eo nomismate insignitus est quod totius denique orbis terrarum auspiciis conlatum Alberti Einstein nomen, physicorum principis, commemorat. quem sic mundi totius causa honorari aptissimum esse sentiet quisquis huius labores cognovit cum operosissimos tum utilissimos quos in ea quaestione exanclavit, diu aque multis vexata, quare nos homines tanta varietate insignes, tanta inter nos dissimilitudine multiformes, gignamur adolescamus senescamus. quippe homines nascimur, et quidem ea condicione ut in lucem primum egressi omnes simillimam faciem, eandem fere figuram exhibere videamur (liceat enim mihi ita intelligi ut de ipsius matris oculis, acie praeditis scilicet unica, nihil videar insimulare); sed attentius intuenti sibi quisque suam naturam, propriam compagem exhibet, a ceteris multifarie diversam, et eam quidem haud externam tantum sed intus insitam ab ipsis primordiis quibus constat cuiusque natura separatim expressam, cuius rei et fontem et varietatem hic sibi excutiendam explanandamque suscepit. animadvertitis hominem se rei contulisse ut momenti vel maximi, ita complexitate obscurissima involutae, quam Amstelodami primo aggressus seminum genitalium non unum genus esse cognorat, postea plus iam quam quinque lustra in Universitate Leicastrensi versatus et quidem in loco honoratissimo primordiorum intimorum varietatem et scrutatus et meditatus id fieri intellexit quod ante eum nemo: primordia quae aD NAturam cuiusque adiuvant, si dum crescunt a forma sua priori variantur, mutationem istam posteritati suae tradere; quo intellecto vexatissimae cuidam quaestioni iter patefecit, post homines natos disputatae, quae ad liberorum parentumque affinitatem spectat. ut enim hominum universorum corpora facies membra ita inter se similia esse cognoscimus ut digitorum tamen lineamentis, unicis scilicet et cuique propriis, discrepent, sic unumquodque hominis cuiusque elementum, modo quis recte inspicere possit, suam atomorum dispositionem, suam ordinationem exhibere. quod inventum statim senserunt peritiores plurimum valere in hereditatibus adiudicandis, in affinitatibus probandis, in aliis plurimis quotiens quaeritur Homericum istud [tis pothen eis andron]; neque virum produco qui laborem reliquit, arcana enim hic quae omnium ultima atque absconditissima occulit corpus humanum dedita opera, successu maximo exquirit.

Praesento virum praemiis notabilioribus saepissime ornatum, qui oraculo Pythio obsecutus hominum ipsorum naturam cognoscere laborat, magna iam ex parte explanavit, plus etiam explanabit, Alexandrum Jeffreys, Equitem Auratum, Magistrum in Artibus, Doctorem in Philosophia, Societatis Regiae Sodalem, Collegi de Merton Socium honoris causa adscitum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.


Admission by the Chancellor

Arcanorum explorator acutissime, corporum nostrorum cognitor doctissime, aenigmatum vetustissimorum solutor ingeniosissime, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.


Paraphrase

Sir Alec Jeffreys, whom I now present, is very much an Oxford man, a Mertonian to his finger tips. He has been awarded many distinguished prizes, among them that which bears the name of a supreme scientist and also of the whole world: the Albert Einstein World of Science Award. That must seem especially suitable, in view of Sir Alec's work, so arduous and so rewarding, on the old and highly controversial question of human diversity. Why are human beings born so various, so significantly different from each other? We are all born human, and it is part of our common lot that when we are first born we are all very much alike in appearance. In saying this, I am of course not thinking of the especially observant eye of the mother who has given birth. But a closer observer sees that every one of us has an unique individuality, different from all others; and that diversity is not merely a matter of surface appearance but inherent in the very molecules of which each of us is composed. This is the area in which Sir Alec chose to work and to explain the aetiology and the range of thse facts. He is, as you see, one who has tackled a set of problems which are as complex and involved as they are vitally important. Working originally in Amsterdam, he discovered split genes. For twenty five years he has been in Leicester, where he holds a very eminent position. His observations and theoretical work on the diversity of DNA particles led to the wholly new insight that DNA in an individual, if it underwent mutation, could pass on that mutation. This discovery has opened a line of approach to a question which has been controversial as long as mankind has existed: that of demonstrating the relation of children to their parents. While it is true that all people are in some ways alike, we know that they each have an uniquely identifiable set of finger prints; in the same way, if we can only look closely enough, each of us, at the molecular level, has an individual and unique formation. Informed observers were quick to see the power of this discovery in cases of disputed inheritance and in those of disputed relationships, and wherever we ask that old question, so regular in Homer: What man are you, and whence are you derived? Sir Alec has by no means withdrawn from active research, but he is hard at work, involved in highly successful enquiries into the last and most deeply buried secrets of human genetics.

I present Sir Alec Jeffreys, MA, D.Phil., FRS, Honorary Fellow of Merton College, the recipient of many distinguished awards, who has followed the injunction of Apollo at Delphi and worked on the question of what it is to be human, who has given a great part of the answer, and who will give even more, for the award of the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Admission by the Chancellor

You are acute in the exploration of nature's secrets, expert on the constitution of the human frame, and ingenious in the solving of long-standing problems. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Professor Ahmed H. Zewail

Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology

Virum produco qui cum plurimum scientiae nostrae contulerit, vix enim alterum reppereris huic aut ingeni viribus parem aut indolis alacritate, tamen hac re vel praecipue ceteris praestat, quod temporis ipsius lapsum accurtissime dimetitus est, continuitatem qualem fere experiri videmur nos qui sumus paullo in his rebus hebetiores in particulas divisit tam incredibilem ad modum perexiguas, ut dum singulas litteras pronuntiamus sexcenties millies elabantur. quis est, quaeso, quin hoc sibi attonitus repraesentet, se tam praegrande temporis spatium vixisse, ut in enumerando opus sit tam mirificis calculis? quae adeo a sensibus nostris abhorrent ut novis sit et inusitatis opus verbis: liceat igitur verborum copiam Tullianam deserere, de femtosecundorum fama semel fari. sed rogabit fortasse aliquis, cur opus sit tam exquisita diligentia, quo pertineat tam accurata temporis divisio. ut paucis exponam quod mihi ipsi cognitum est brevissimum tantum temporis spatium (huic autem quem praesento longiusculum), haud aliter potest aut conspici aut intelligi qua ratione atomi ipsae, immo ipsa corpuscula quibus atomi constant, quae moleculas vocant peritiores, transeant in novas formas, concursionibus conversionibus commutationibus celerrimis inter se confligant, inter se autem coniuncta atomorum genera gignant quae haud minori celeritate dissipata evanescunt. hinc novae formae et mundi ipsius varietas, quam hic melius etiam intelligit quam Naso poeta: metamorphoseon enim immane quantum vastiorem etiam congeriem observat demonstrat exponit; hinc viae muniuntur quibus adducti et in inanimis et mehercle in animantibus profectum intelligere possimus. sed ne hunc existimemus huic uni, quamvis magno, quaestionum generi incubuisse, virum produco qui plurima alia inventa excogitavit quae mihi Anglice describere, ne dicam Latine, difficillimum esset. hoc tantum dico: hunc ducem exstitisse haud tantum in inluminandis obscurissimis rerum naturae arcanis, verum etiam in re publica cum ipsius scientiae educationisque universae signiferum exstitisse, tum operam dedisse praecipuam ut inter cives suos mulieribus quoque non impediatur liber ad omne doctrinae genus accessus.

Praesento minimi cuiusque spectaculi observatorem oculatissimum, ipsius rerum naturae exploratorem subtilissimum, Ahmed Zewail, Praemio Nobeliano nobilitatum aliisque plurimis cumulatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.


Admission by the Chancellor

Molecularum metitor accuratissime, atomorum existimator ingeniosissime, cuius egregiis laboribus tam alte absconditas veritatis formas cognoscere discimus, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.


Paraphrase

Our next honorand is one who has made other great contributions to our scientific knowledge—it would be hard to find a man of comparable intellectual power and agility—who is particularly outstanding for the extremely accurate measurement of time. Most us, not being very self-conscious in the matter, think more or less in terms of a continuity; Professor Zewail has divided it up into units so tiny that while we are, perhaps, pronouncing a single letter, a million billion of them elapse. The mind reels, as one tries to come to terms with the idea that one has lived through a period so extended that it calls for calculations of such an order of magnitude. They are indeed so utterly remote from the experience of our senses that they call for a new and unfamiliar vocabulary. Let me, then, for a moment depart from the Latinity of Cicero and mention femtoseconds. The question may occur to some minds, why such extreme refinement of exactness is necessary. I shall therefore briefly expound a little of what has been known to me for only a very short time; in Professor Zewail's terms, of course, quite a long time. It is not possible without such concepts to explain or to understand how it is that atoms, or molecules, the very elements which compose them, take on new forms, and are constantly interacting, as they collide, transform, and undergo mutations, all at terrific speed. Their combinations produce new atoms, which pass out of existence no less quickly than they enter it. That is what underlies the constant innovations in our world, with which our honorand is more completely at home even than the Roman poet Ovid with his Metamorphoses. Certainly those which Professor Zewail observes, proves, and describes, are far greater in range and volume even than Ovid's lengthy poem. This has made progress possible in the understanding of inanimate and also of animate matter. But he is far from being a man of one single idea, however important. He has made many other discoveries, which it would be hard for me to detail even in English, let alone Latin. Let it suffice to say that he has been an inspiring leader, not only in the investigation and illumination of some of the darkest mysteries of the world, but also in public life: he has been a standard bearer for science and for education, and he has been notably active in ensuring that in his own community access to every kind of knowledge should be open to women as well as to men.

I present Professor Ahmed Zewail, clear eyed observer of the most minute phenomena, subtle inquirer into nature itself, recipient of the Nobel Prize and of many other distinctions, for admission to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Admission by the Chancellor

You are most accurate in the measurement of molecules, most inventive in your observation of atoms. Your outstanding work has enabled us to understand these profoundly hidden areas of truth. Acting on my own authority and on that of the University as a whole, I admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


2 Encaenia

THE PUBLIC ORATOR delivered the following Oration `in commemoration of the Benefactors of the University according to the intention of the Right Honourable Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham':

Honoratissime Domine Cancellarie: `Ab Iove principium'; in the words of the poet Virgil, we start from the very top. We start, in fact, great Sir, with you: who as our new Chancellor nominated, at a special ceremony on 21 November last, ten recipients of honorary degrees. What with Heads of State and Heads of House, the scene was a picturesque and splendid one. For a day we basked in reflected glory. As for their names, are they not written in the Gazette for 27 June 2003, even on p. 1467?

We take, I think, a small but definite step down, when we record that this year we have elected a new New Vice-Chancellor. My personal affection for the departing Vice-Chancellor (yes, Emily, it is true: we Orators are human; every one had a mother) shall not embarrass me in saying what everyone would wish to hear said: that the University owes a very great debt to Sir Colin Lucas for his wise, far-sighted, and (above all) humane steering of our ship of state, in a time of constant stress and financial pressures, when it has sometimes seemed that every day brought some fresh problem or some new whirlwind of hostile spin. As he sails into the sunset, reminding us (I think) of Turner's marvellously elegiac depiction of The Fighting Téméraire, his cargo includes the affection and the thanks of us all. We wish him all success as Warden of Rhodes House.

He is succeeded by Dr John Hood: by a break with very long tradition, not the Head of an Oxford House, but the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland. We dismiss any thought of Macaulay's grim prophetic vision: in the twenty-first century, a visitor from New Zealand, setting up his easel in a deserted London and sketching the ruins of St Paul's. It isn't, we insist, like that at all; not a bit; and we welcome Dr Hood to the splendours and miseries—more, we hope, of the former than of the latter—which traditionally accompany great office.

Another almost imperceptible declension, and three `external' members of Council have been nominated: Sir Victor Blank, Dame Pauline Neville- Jones, and Mr Bernard Taylor. Let us hope that they will combine a cool external perspective with a warm sense of belonging.

Onwards we press, and again slightly downwards. This has been one of those bitter-sweet years in which we say Farewell to one Professor of Poetry and Welcome to another. As usual, there was a clean and sporting contest, followed in the media with a degree of attention to which your actual contemporary poetry itself somehow seldom seems to stimulate them. We salute a worthy election in Professor Christopher Ricks, of Boston University, but reassuringly a Balliol man, as we thank Professor Paul Muldoon for the lectures, the personal appearances, and the rest of his ungrudged and warmly appreciated services to us in his tenure of that unique and ever interesting position.

And still we go a little lower. We have this year elected, after a bracing contested election, a new Public Orator. I welcome as my successor, the latest holder of a post which can be traced back to the sixteenth century, Professor Richard Jenkyns, of Lady Margaret Hall; another Balliol man, a former Proctor, a polished Latinist, and (I think I may say—he is a pupil of my own) a very promising young speaker. May his periods never lack a Ciceronian orotundity, and may his Latin subjunctives proceed always in correct and stately sequence.

If I may for a moment reflect on my own experience in that office, I should say, what has been said by so many holders of more or less transient University positions—Proctors and the like—that a real benefit to the Orator is the glimpse which the position gives him, panoramic though inevitably rather superficial, of the extraordinarily multifarious activities of this University: its members, senior and junior; its research, its teaching; its colleges, departments, laboratories, libraries, museums, committees, clubs, fund-raising, expenditure; its preservation of the past, and its no less constant struggle to provide for the future. It has been an impressive experience to get, over the years, a little insight into all that.

The Orator depends on the support of those who remind him of what he ought to say, and who help him to say it. I should like to thank three people who have been especially helpful. I have been fortunate in enjoying long- suffering and invaluable assistance, over the years, from Mrs Alison Miles, Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor; of Ms Clare Woodcock, of the Information Office; and of Mr Tony Bennell, of Oxuniprint. I am grateful to them all.

The Orator also enjoys the occasions, once or twice a year, when he meets people who otherwise would probably not come his way: long-serving technicians in science laboratories, workers in the university administration, and employees of the University Press. Presenting such people for honorary degrees is both interesting and moving; it shows the University in its very best light, and it enables the Orator, as a member of it, to see and appreciate the loyalty and the hard work of its very many devoted servants. From the Olympian leisure of retirement I shall, as they say, watch the future progress of the University with considerable interest.

But what, Sir, I hear you ask: what of this past year? In July 2003, too late for last year's Creweian Oration, we celebrated the centenary of the Rhodes (now the Rhodes–Mandela) Scholarships. Festivities were held, both in Oxford and in London; Mr Mandela gave an eloquent address, and the eye fell on many interesting luminaries, notably ex-President Bill Clinton, of University College. At a special ceremony four former Rhodes Scholars, all now in their different countries persons of eminence, light, and leading, received honorary degrees.

From the sublime to the—well, Sir, shall I say: to the less sublime? In January a few junior members sat down in the Examination Schools; apparently to register (a posteriori, I suppose), their disapprobation of the Government's proposal to introduce a tuition fee. A certain number of lectures had to be cancelled, and the Government, in its obtuse way, not unpredictably, took no notice.

So much for passivity. More actively, we have shown our usual energy in building. In February HM The Queen opened the new Chemistry Research Laboratory on South Parks Road. A huge building, it accommodates thirty independent research groups and more than 200 research students. The Edward Abraham Building in the School of Pathology was opened last July, having received a grant of £5,500,000 from the Edward Abraham Trust. The Richard Doll Building, a home for research into cancer, has been topped out and is expected to be in operation later this year. Older buildings have not been neglected. Work is in progress on the restoration of the Radcliffe Observatory and its charming reproduction Tower of the Winds. And the Rosenblatt Pool, a high-tech swimming arena, was opened—I have struggled, I really have, but I cannot resist it—it was opened, Sir, with a splash.

In September 2003 three new centres were inaugurated to work on grave health problems: the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine; the Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism; and the National Translational Cancer Research Network, with its headquarters in Oxford. The Wellcome Trust has made a grant of £2,500,000 to support graduate training in neuroscience. And the Oxford e-Science Centre is to have a new building, the cost £4,000,000, a joint venture of the University and IBM. A munificent benefaction has been received from the Skoll Foundation: it will support the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and the Skoll Scholarship Programme at the Saïd Business School. An intriguing precedent has been set by the establishment by The Scripps Research Institute of a Joint D.Phil./Ph.D. in Biochemistry, to be worked for half-time in Oxford and half in California. The Institute has also set up a Visiting Professorship in Medicinal Chemistry.

A Genetics Knowledge Park has been launched. We received £60,000,000 from the Science Research Investment Fund, which will pay for many scientific ventures, notably £14,000,000 for the Department of Biochemistry and £3,700,000 for the Pitt Rivers Museum. Plans are afoot to establish an extensive computing grid to tackle heart disease and cancer. Our muscular dystrophy research group has won a grant of £1,600,000 from the Department of Health.

We have been even more sharply aware than usual this year, of the significance and value to the University of its ancient connection with the Oxford University Press. Two eminent servants of the Press were awarded honorary degrees in a ceremony held earlier this term. And, in the great tradition of its many noble benefactions, the Press gave us a transfer in 2002–3 of £14.8 million, plus a single capital transfer of £62,000,000, towards the development of the Radcliffe Infirmary site and an endowment fund for acquisitions for the Bodleian Library. The Press has given us, we might say, many proofs of its good-will, and in return our gratitude is, we might insist, deeply imprinted.

Dr James Martin has established, with a munificent benefaction, the James Martin Institute of Science and Civilization; it will identify and discuss the impact on society of scientific and technological change. The University, working in partnership with Imperial College, London, has received a substantial grant from the Wellcome Trust for drug trials involving patients suffering from HIV. Oxford's grant from HEFCE next year is £143,000,000; in competitive terms pretty good, but, in the grave words of the Vice-Chancellor, `The overall increase in funding scarcely keeps pace with basic cost rises. The serious shortfall in public funding for teaching remains a significant issue.'

Yes, Sir, these are important benefactions, and they sound like enormous sums of money. But we are all constantly aware of what the demitting Senior Proctor, in his eloquent farewell Oration, called `the University's dire financial position'. Nor did we fail to recognise what he meant, when he went on to speak of being `reminded daily of an institution ground between the millstones of financial pressure and the ever more intrusive demands of our paymasters'. They, it constantly appears, find it hard to believe in us, while we, for our part, have perhaps no extraordinary belief in them.

The Ashmolean Museum has a new constitution, a new Board of Visitors with more external members, and ambitious plans for demolition, reconstruction, and improvement. All this will amount, we are told, to `nothing less than the transformation of the greatest museum in England outside London'. The cost is estimated to be some £46,000,000. A lot of money, Sir. But the Museum has acquired, this year, a comprehensive collection of medieval halfpennies and farthings. Well, I suppose, it's a start. Much more than a start, the Ashmolean has received a major benefaction from Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, KG, through his charitable trust, to put into action plans for a complete redevelopment of the back of the Museum. A spectacular exhibition—on now, don't miss it—of `600 Years of Oxford College Silver' was made possible by generous donations from, among others, the Whiteley trust and Mr Brian Wilson.

Nor have our other museums let their swords sleep in their hands, or their treasures sleep in their packing cases. The Museum of the History of Science records a substantial grant from the Renaissance in the Regions Designation Fund of the Museums Council, for its mouth-watering project on Astrolabes, East and West. The University Museum has been given a handsome grant by the Trust for Oxford's Environment, for the purpose of installing a series of displays to illustrate the rock cycle (mineralogy, I fancy, rather than music). The Pitt Rivers Museum has received a generous gift from HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan towards the cataloguing of the photographs of the late Sir Wilfred Thesiger, recently donated to the museum; it records its gratitude for the good offices in the matter of HE the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates. The Centre for International Studies has received a grant of £1,000,000 for work on `The changing character of war'. And Professor Nasser David Khalili has established the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Bodleian Library has received major gifts for its 400th Anniversary Campaign from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Board of the American Friends for Oxford, the Michael Marks Foundation, Mr Barry Wigmore, Mr Robert and Mrs Anne Bass, and the estate of the late John Musgrave. In the effort to acquire the Shelley papers belonging to Lord Abinger, substantial donations have been received from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, and the estate of the late John Fuggles. Ah yes, Shelley; in life, sent down by the University; but when safely dead and posthumously famous, taken to our collective bosom. As Captain Grimes in Decline and Fall said of his public school, They may chuck you out, but they don't let you down.

Much of our research is pretty hard-nosed, but the tenderer feelings have not been neglected. Thus the Plant Sciences Department has been enquiring (sensitively, we trust) into the problem of stress in plants; it appears that sensitive plants are more numerous than one might suppose. Less cheerfully, the winner of this year's Science Writing Competition has calculated the odds against finding one's ideal life partner as ten billion to one. I knew I was lucky, but I didn't know I was that lucky.

This year, as usual, there have been some eminent visitors. Apart from the visit of HM The Queen, HM King Carl Gustav of Sweden visited the new Chemistry Research Laboratory, and Mr Wen Jiabao, Chinese Prime Minister, was given a tour of interesting Oxford sites.

Some of us have been formulating an academic strategy, as part of the University's Corporate Plan. Perhaps as an element in that plan, the University, moving (as ever) smartly in step with all that is best and most enlightened in modern thought, has revised the lengthy regulations governing Clubs, Societies, and Publications of Junior Members, and has published (Gazette, pages 652ff: 6.5 long columns) a new set. They are, we read, `identical to the Regulations for 2003–4, except that the word "staff" replaces the word "constables" in regulation 4.1.(i)(b).' A vibrant substitution, Sir, you will agree, and another splendid example of the way that Oxford moves with the times.

This University is working with others to centralise the admissions procedure for applicants to read Law. We are helping to update research methods in such disparate areas as Assyriology and Environmental Health. Is there, indeed, no limit to our versatility? And, in co-operation with seven other Universities, we are to help rebuild Iraq; but not, I suppose, actually to rebuild Assyria.

We greet the advance of St Stephen's House, which this year became a Permanent Private Hall of the University. More surprisingly, perhaps, the sages of English Heritage have declared the New Bodleian a listed building (grade II). It is, we are told, of `immense quality'. Well, well, Sir. Little did I dream, all those years ago, when as an undergraduate reading Greats I scurried through those Stalinist corridors and scuffled for grubby periodicals in the glowering and hate-filled PPE Reading Room, that I should live to see it receive such an accolade. The whirligigs of time and taste, indeed.

In sharp contrast with that bleak aesthetic, hints have not been absent this year of a barely repressed sensuality. The Ashmolean Museum has acquired, for a record price, a majolica plate by Francesco Urbini, depicting a head entirely composed of penises; while in the University Museum researchers were able to photograph the copulatory organ of a fossil ostracode crustacean. They report that comparison with living ostracodes shows that in this respect `They haven't actually changed much in 425,000,000 years'. An impressive record, Sir, of consistent satisfaction. As they say in ostracodic circles, If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Nor is the Museum of Natural History left out of the sensual whirl: it has mounted `Feeling good: a "touchy-feely" exhibition'. More staidly, the Bodleian set out `Napoleon and the Invasion of Britain'—a severe case, I suppose, of coitus interruptus. Meanwhile that unfailing stand- by of Orators, the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, which has never stooped to the suggestive, and to which the double entendre is a thing unknown, mounted a thought-provoking exhibition of `Cork grease, cleaners, and crooks'. Nor is that all: at a successful instrument-making class, I read, `a number of squarpents were fashioned'. I have in my mind's eye a clear picture of a squarpent; it resembles a serpent, except (of course) that it is square. If that is not actually correct, please tell my successor, not me. The Collection records its sadness at the death of Yvonne Bate, widow of Philip Bate, the founder of the Collection. In her will she left a most generous benefaction.

I turn, with avidity, to the delicious topic of honours. We observe a seamless transition from that of benefactions; for the University has awarded its first two Sheldon Medals, newly invented and individually minted to honour especial benefactors, whose generosity has made it possible for really important things to happen. One went to Mr Wafic Saïd, munificent and eponymous benefactor of the Saïd Business School, who has added yet more this year to his already impressive list of benefactions, and one to Lord Wolfson, whose Wolfson Foundation, already the source of a long list of varied and vital benefactions, has this year contributed generously to the Structural Bioinformatics Building in the Department of Biochemistry. At the former presentation music was performed by the choristers of New College School; at the second, amid the baroque splendours of this Sheldonian Theatre a deliciously blue note—an Oxford Blue note, I am obliged by precedent to quip—was sounded, as Mr Marios Papadopoulos and Ms Diane Atherton performed compositions by George Gershwin. We have also awarded our first Bannister Medal, commemorating distinguished sporting and academic achievement by an undergraduate, to Ms Annie Bowden, of Queen's.

Oxford names were numerous in the New Year's Honours list. There was a knighthood for Professor Mike Brady, FRS, BP Professor of Information Engineering. Professor Roger Cashmore, FRS, Principal of Brasenose, received the CMG; CBEs went to Mr Christopher Allsop, Reader in Economic Policy; to Professor Keith Burnett, FRS, Professor of Physics; to Dr Frances Cairncross, Rector-elect of Exeter; and to Professor Keith Gull, FRS, Senior Research Fellow of Lincoln; while Dr Maurice Keen, FBA, Fellow of Balliol and Clerk of the Market, received an OBE. In the Birthday Honours list we seem to have cut much less of a figure, but Professor Olwen Hufton, Emeritus Professor of Modern History, became a DBE. Congratulations to them all.

A Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Professor Anthony Leggett, of Balliol, Merton, and Magdalen Colleges, but now at the University of Illinois; he is believed to be the first winner of the Prize in Physics to have taken, in his time, a First in Greats. His eagerly awaited public lecture here, in April, saw crowds, including the Orator, turned away in frustration; it is perhaps rather charming, in retrospect at least (not so much at the time), that our physicists were not sufficiently high-tech to arrange some kind of relay or overflow. Or perhaps this Oration may be the first occasion on which they learn of the existence of these exciting technological possibilities.

Our retiring Vice-Chancellor, Sir Colin Lucas, has, to general pleasure, been elected a foreign member of the American Philosophical Society. Elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society is Professor Samson Abramsky, Christopher Strachey Professor of Computing. More numerous are this year's elections to Fellowships of the British Academy: Robert Allen, Professor of Economic History; Desmond King, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of American History; Martin Maiden, Professor of the Romance Languages; Richard Sharpe, Professor of Diplomatic; Nigel Thrift, Head of the Life and Environmental Sciences Division. Professor Geoffrey Best was elected to a Senior Fellowship of the Academy, and it gave special pleasure that our own High Steward, Lord Bingham, was elected to an Honorary Fellowship.

Three of us have been honoured by the London Mathematical Society: Professor John Ball has been awarded the first David Crighton Medal; Dr Peter Neumann, of Queen's, has won the Senior Whitehead Prize; and the Whitehead Prize has been awarded to Dr Mark Lackenby, of St Catherine's.

Professor John Cardy, Professor of Physics, has been awarded the 2004 Lars Onsager Prize of the American Physical Society. Professor Richard Carwardine, Rhodes Professor of American History, has won the Lincoln Prize for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. In the area of physiology, Professor Frances Ashcroft has been awarded a Charter Award by the Institute of Biology. Professor George Smith has been awarded the 2005 Acta Materialia Gold Medal.

Five Oxford projects in the Humanities have been awarded grants from the AHRB. And a team from Magdalen won the television quiz University Challenge for a record-breaking third time.

The Vice-Chancellor and the Orator are accompanied into retirement by other university dignitaries. At Oriel Dr Ernest Nicholson retires as Provost and is succeeded by Sir Derek Morris, Chairman of the Competition Commission. The new Rector of Exeter, in succession to Professor Marilyn Butler, is Ms Frances Cairncross, Management Editor of The Economist. At Wadham Sir Neil Chalmers comes from the Natural History Museum as Warden to succeed the late John Flemming. The new Principal of St Anne's, in succession to Dame Ruth Deech, is to be Mr Tim Gardam, recently Director of Channel Four Television. Fr Henry Wansbrough, who is returning to Ampleforth, is succeeded as Master of St Benet's Hall by Fr Leo Chamberlain. Heartfelt thanks to the departing, and a warm welcome to their successors.

It has become a traditional part of these Orations to list some of the lectures given here in the course of the year. The practice, it is hoped, combines instruction with amusement: the instruction superficial, it is true, and the amusement, if not actually cheap, at least rather inexpensive; but that's show business. Among this year's lectures we noted one on `Fairness in international politics', balanced, perhaps, by another on `Success in competition'. A third was on `Suicide in mental illness'; and all three were listed, with inimitable equability, on the same page of the Gazette. Suggestive, in a more farouche way, was `Where there is nothing: the decadent life and beliefs of Count Stanislaus Eric Stenbock'. I select a few other palate-tempting morsels, almost at random, from that opulent bill of fare: `Health, communism, and olive oil'; `The ambiguous ordinariness of being Greek in Pogoni'; `The ears of insects: clever cantilevers?' `Syllabic development in early French'; `The old Japanese complement system'; and `The social development of gentility in Virginia, 1607–1776'.

Some eminent persons came to talk to us. The first Reuters Foundation Lecture was given by Mr John Simpson, on `War reporting: the new vulnerability'. Professor Noam Chomsky gave the Olof Palme Lecture, entitled `Doctrines and Visions: Who is to run the World, and How?' Sir Bernard Ingham, former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, and Miss Amanda Platell, former adviser to William Hague, told us about `The wages of spin' (yes, that is `spin', not `sin'). The Sir Alec Cairncross Lecture was given by Sir Peter Stothard, formerly editor of The Times: `After Hutton: Downing Street and the media'; Mr Sean Ryan, Foreign Editor of the Sunday Times, gave a lecture in Pembroke College on `Working in the media'.

That brings us, of course, to paranoia. Once paranoid feelings are allowed to enter in, we can find food for this obsession in the most unexpected areas of the Lecture Lists. Thus, in the chaste purlieus of the Physical Sciences, both `Fractal patterns in media with thermal stress' (nothing to do, I am assured, with Downing Street turning up the heat on the Press), and also `Spin-forbidden reactions in organometallic chemistry'. Spin-forbidden reactions, eh? O si sic omnes!

The Clarendon Lectures in Finance were given by Professor Darrell Duffle, of Stanford, on a rather alarming series of topics. I need perhaps only say that the very first was on `Bankruptcy probabilities', and that the others came, if possible, even closer to home. Lord Bragg of Wigton gave the Chatham Lecture, also perhaps sounding a rather desperate note: `What are the arts now?' The Romanes Lecture was given by Sir Paul Nurse, whom we honoured at the Encaenia last year, on `The great ideas of biology'. Professor Paul Muldoon, appropriately rounding off his own tenure of the Chair of Poetry, lectured on `The end of the poem: "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold'. Lord May gave the first Julia Bodmer Memorial Lecture, on `Non- linear systems of vulnerability'. A century of Modern Languages at Oxford was celebrated: a high point was a lecture by Assia Djebar on `St Augustin et la destruction'.

The Orator cannot deny himself the pleasure of mentioning the New Year Lecture given this year in the Ashmolean Museum by Professor James Allan, with the highly provocative title, `Sprouting stags and growling griffins: wonders of Islamic Spain'. And, one might add, not there only. Meanwhile, we have had a seminar on `The history of the American paint industry', and the Wolfson College Lectures this year were on the theme of Bubbles.

The Museum of the History of Science put on a series of events on the theme of `The colour blue'. It included talks on `Why is the sky blue?' and, more challengingly, `Is anything blue? Don't ask a philosopher'. Rather surprisingly, the Faculty of Music seems to have remained aloof; perhaps satisfied, or possibly just played out, by that Gershwin concert in the Sheldonian.

Mouth-watering, appropriately, was the theme of a lunch-time workshop: `Ministerial resignations and non-resignations'. The restless eye of the Orator was caught, momentarily, by some tantalising lecture titles: thus, `The heroic nude', and `Rethinking child prostitution' (important to keep those apart, of course), and `Cleavage, slime, latex, walls, and brimstone'. Cleavage together with slime? The tabloid press again, clearly, with special reference to Page Three; `Bird-brained economists'—I don't think I can improve on that one; `Why dragons change: animal identities in Ancient China'; `Evolution, cognition, consciousness, intelligence, and creativity'; `Minds, machines, and all that'; `What to do with unwanted gifts'—an unusually short lecture, I suspect.

Let us not omit to mention `Change in promotion prospects? Appearance and reality'; `The blackballing of King Manasseh'; `English actress novels'; `Identifying starch remains on lithics from Niah Cave, Borneo'; ` "My oh my" or "Respectfully yours": some issues raised by possessives used in address in Romance'; `Indulgences in late medieval England'; `Classroom violence in early modern France'; `Narratives of sexual violence in eighteenth-century England'; `The Britishness of the nineteenth- century programme note'; `Play and excess: visual and material cultures of pleasure'; `Packing problems: from DNA to origami'; `Raising the Andes'; `Chaotic advection in small airways' (apparently a matter of biology, but those who have travelled on certain cut-price airlines may suspect a second meaning); `Building microbial bioherms in the Pleistocene Gulf of Corinth'; `Protophysics of the chromophore of GFP'; `Dust molecules, strings, and crystals in dusty plasma'; `What are Chinese workers thinking?'; `Can you call this fieldwork? September in Italy': an instance, perhaps, of engaging frankness; `Play and excess: visual and material cultures of pleasure'; ` "The nameless dead": medical abuses from the victims' perspective, 1939–60'. With retirement I am promising myself a thorough immersion, next year, in the heady delights of the Special Lecture List.

The final duty of the Orator is to turn from listing achievements, promotions, prizes, and events, to the commemoration of those who have this year left us and joined the famous nations of the dead. I record the names of these former colleagues: Reginald Alton, Fellow of St Edmund Hall; James Bertie, Fellow of Hertford; Peter Bide, Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall; Jeremy Black, Fellow of Wolfson; Robert Blake, Lord Blake of Braydeston, Provost of Queen's; Alan Bullock, Lord Bullock of Leafield, Master of St Catherine's and sometime Vice-Chancellor of the University; Michael Chantry, Chaplain of Hertford; John Flemming, Warden of Wadham; John Hughes, Fellow of Wolfson; David Jamison, Fellow of Corpus Christi; James Logue, Fellow of Somerville; Gordon Lowe, Fellow of Lincoln; Michael MacLagan, Fellow of Trinity; Geoffrey Marshall, Provost of Queen's; David Rees, Fellow of Jesus; John Roberts, Warden of Merton; David Spence, Fellow of Lincoln; Stephen Tumim, Principal of St Edmund Hall; Bernard Williams, Fellow of Corpus Christi; John Wilson, Fellow of Mansfield; Stuart Wilson, Fellow of St Cross; Stanley Woodell, Fellow of Wolfson.

It is fitting that the last words that I shall speak from this pulpit should be in commemoration of our dead. At the moment of his own departure, sharply aware of the transience of all that is human, and newly reminded that the end of all speech, however eloquent, is silence, the Orator salutes those who have already gone before. Some were acquaintances; some were friends; all were fellow workers for the high purposes of this great institution. We know that we are mortal: we come and go, we learn and teach, we work and age and die. The University, too, is neither immutable nor eternal. It is the creation of human creatures. In every generation it must find fresh agents and new supporters, while its openness to growth and to change is a sign of its undiminished vitality.

As human creations go, Oxford is very old. Venerable before the oldest of us was born, it will (we trust) long out-live the youngest person present. These our dead join the countless men and women by whose labours and whose love great traditions, combined with heavy responsibilities, have for eight hundred years been maintained, increased, and transmitted to us, their latest successors. May we continue to be be worthy of them. Et lux perpetua luceat eis.