Seven distinguished individuals were given Honorary Degrees, the highest honour that the University can bestow, by the Chancellor at a special ceremony in the Senate House today.

They were:

Catherine Cesarsky, astronomer and former President of the International Astronomical Union (Doctor of Science)

Yusuf Hamied, pharmaceutical chemist and Chairman of Cipla Limited, Honorary Fellow of Christ's College (Doctor of Science)

Ian McKellen, actor and director, Honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College (Doctor of Letters)

Dan McKenzie, geophysicist, Fellow of King's College and Royal Society Professor of Earth Sciences Emeritus (Doctor of Science)

Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow, Astronomer Royal, former Master of Trinity College and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics Emeritus (Doctor of Science)

Albie Sachs, lawyer, campaigner against apartheid and retired Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (Doctor of Law)

Mitsuko Uchida, pianist and winner of the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society (Doctor of Music)

Dr Catherine Cesarsky
The astronomer Catherine Cesarsky received her first degree at theUniversity of Buenos Aires and her PhD in astronomy at Harvard in 1971. Returning to her native France, she became Head of the Service d’Astrophysique in 1985 and of the Direction des Sciences de la Matière in 1994. Dr Cesarsky served as Director General of the European Southern Observatory 1999–2007, High Commissioner for Atomic Energy in France 2009–12 and President of the International Astronomical Union 2006–09. She is currently Haut Conseiller Scientifique au Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives.

Dr Yusuf Hamied

The pharmaceutical chemist and philanthropist Yusuf Hamied was born in Lithuania and raised in India before coming to Christ’s College, of which he is now an Honorary Fellow. Completing his PhD in organic chemistry in 1960, Dr Hamied joined Cipla, a socially conscious company founded by his father and producing generic pharmaceuticals, becoming Managing Director in 1976 and Chairman in 1989. An outstanding career in the life science industry followed, during which he pioneered the manufacture of affordable drugs to allow the poor to fight AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. The recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from Anacon, Express Pharma, Biospectrum and E&Y, Yusuf Hamied was CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2012. Instrumental in driving successful academic collaboration between India and Cambridge, he is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the significance and scope of his achievements earned him the Padma Bhushan from the President of India in 2005.

Sir Ian McKellen
The actor Ian McKellen read English at St Catharine’s College and was President of the Marlowe Society 1960–61. During more than fifty years’ work, he has won as many international acting awards for his roles on stage and screen. Sir Ian is a co-founder of Stonewall, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people in the UK. Now an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, knighted in 1991 and made a Companion of Honour in 2008.

Professor Dan McKenzie
The geophysicist Dan McKenzie was both an undergraduate and a research student at King’s College, of which he first became a Fellow in 1965. A former Head of the Bullard Laboratory of Earth Sciences, he has been Royal Society Professor of Earth Sciences, now Emeritus, since 1996. In 2001, he received the William Bowie Medal from the American Geophysical Union for his ‘outstanding contributions to fundamental geophysics and for unselfish cooperation in research’. In 2002 came the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, for his contributions to research in the field of plate tectonics, sedimentary basin formation and mantle melting. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society aged only thirty-four, Dan McKenzie was awarded their Copley Medal in 2011. He was appointed a Companion of Honour in 2003.

Professor The Lord Rees

The astrophysicist Martin Rees completed both his first degree and a PhD at Cambridge, and then held positions in the UK and the USA and a professorial chair at the University of Sussex before returning in 1973 as the Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy. He served for ten years as Director of the Institute of Astronomy, was Master of Trinity College 2004–12 and President of the Royal Society 2005–10. Awards have included the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Balzan International Prize and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. A Fellow of Trinity and an Honorary Fellow of King’s, Jesus and Darwin Colleges, Lord Rees is Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics Emeritus. Knighted in 1992, created a Life Peer in 2005 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 2007, he has been Astronomer Royal since 1995.

Albie Sachs
The lawyer, judge and academic Albie Sachs started his career in human rights activism at the age of seventeen, when he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Obtaining a first degree in law at the University of Cape Town, he started a legal practice there in 1957. Driven into exile in 1966, he completed a PhD at the University of Sussex in 1971. Critically
injured and left disabled by a car-bomb in 1988, Albie Sachs survived to found the South African Constitutional Studies Centre later that year. He won the Alan Paton Award twice, in 1991 and 2009. In 1994, he was appointed a Justice of the Constitutional Court of the new post-apartheid South Africa, retiring in 2009. Albie Sachs played an active role in the drafting of South Africa’s first democratic constitution.

Dame Mitsuko Uchida
The pianist Mitsuko Uchida was born in Japan and educated at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, where she studied with Richard Hauser. Renowned for her interpretations of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven, she has also illuminated the music of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez for a new generation. Her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and The Cleveland Orchestra won four awards, including the Gramophone Award for Best Concerto, while her recording of Beethoven’s Sonatas opp. 101 and 106 won two BBC Music Magazine Awards 2008 in the categories Disc of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year. For her album with Mozart’s Piano Concertos nos. 23 and 24, she was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra. Mitsuko Uchida is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and a Director of the Marlboro Music Festival. She was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal in 2012. In June 2009, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Pictured l-r: Dan McKenzie, Catherine Cesarsky, Yusuf Hamied, Mitsuko Uchida, Ian McKellen, Martin Rees and Albie Sachs with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor

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