encaenia by john cairns 19 june 2024


Six widely-esteemed recipients were awarded honorary degrees from Oxford University at Encaenia

Published: 20 June 2024


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The honorands were actor, comedian, writer, and television presenter Sir Michael Palin; Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and first African to become Director General of the World Trade Organization; computer scientist, artificial intelligence researcher and entrepreneur Sir Demis Hassabis; Professor Salim Yusuf, an internationally renowned cardiologist and epidemiologist; musician, sitarist, composer and producer, Anoushka Shankar; and engineer and businessperson Warren East who was CEO for Rolls-Royce Holdings.

Encaenia is held annually and is the ceremony at which honorary degrees are conferred by the University to distinguished individuals, and its benefactors are commemorated.

In the morning, recipients signed their names in the Honorary Degrees Book before moving to the Sheldonian Theatre where the Encaenia ceremony has been held in some form since 1670.

Professor Irene Tracey, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Chair of the Committee on Honorary Degrees, said: ‘We are delighted to mark this special day in the University's calendar and to recognise the outstanding contribution that our six honorands have made to their respective fields.

'From AI, engineering and economics, to music, medicine and the world of television and travel writing, our honorands have impacted our world in so many different ways, and we are thrilled to welcome them to Oxford.’

Honorands in 2024

At the Encaenia ceremony on Wednesday 19 June 2024, degrees were awarded to:

Warren East is a British engineer and businessperson who was CEO for Rolls-Royce Holdings from 2015 to 2022. He is an Executive in Residence at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University and an Honorary Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford.

Sir Demis Hassabis is a British computer scientist, artificial intelligence researcher and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist and the seventh Director General of the World Trade Organisation – the first woman and the first African to hold the position.

Sir Michael Palin is an actor, comedian, writer and television presenter. He has written and starred in numerous TV programmes, including ‘Monty Python’, and has made several much-acclaimed travel documentaries. Sir Michael read modern history at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Anoushka Shankar is a British-Indian-American musician, sitarist, composer and producer who made her performing debut at the age of 13. Among her accolades are nine Grammy nominations and Ivor Novello Award nomination.

Professor Salim Yusuf is an internationally renowned Canadian cardiologist and epidemiologist, whose work over 40 years has substantially influenced prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

A more detailed coverage and video is available here: