At a ceremony at the Senate House on Monday 25 June the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, will admit eight distinguished individuals to honorary degrees.

The honorary degree of Doctor of Law will be given to the former Iraq weapons inspector and Swedish diplomat Dr Hans Blix; to Cambridge-based charity founder and entrepreneur Ann Cotton OBE; to philosopher and President of the British Academy Baroness O'Neill, the former Principal of Newnham College; and to the Government economic adviser Sir Nicholas Stern author of the Stern Report on the economics of climate change.

The honorary degree of Doctor of Science will be awarded to palaeoanthropologist and environmentalist Richard Leakey and to pioneering biologist Sir John Gurdon.

The honorary degree of Doctor of Letters will be conferred upon artist David Hockney and writer and journalist Claire Tomalin.

The University of Cambridge has been conferring honorary degrees for some 500 years. One of the earliest recorded ceremonies was in 1493, when the University honoured the poet John Skelton. An honorary degree is the highest accolade the University can give.

The honorary degree ceremony is a colourful one and is held in the University's Senate-House. The chosen day is declared a 'scarlet day', when those holding doctorates wear their impressive 'festal' gowns and all University members attending the ceremony wear full academical dress.

University and College buildings fly flags to mark the occasion. While the bells of the University Church ring out, processions assemble and make their way around the yard of the Senate-House.

Dr Hans Blix
Swedish diplomat and politician Dr Hans Blix (Honorary Doctor of Law) is former head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). He was born in Uppsala, Sweden, and was a student at the University of Uppsala; at Columbia University; and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he received his PhD. In 1960 was appointed Associate Professor in International Law at Stockholm University. He joined Sweden's foreign ministry in 1963, becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1978. As director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1981 to 1997, Dr Blix was in charge of overseeing inspections of Iraq's nuclear programme. Recalled by the UN in 2000 to become UNMOVIC's head, he presided over the re-introduction of weapons inspectors in Iraq in 2002. Dr Blix has written several books concerning international and constitutional law.

Ann Cotton
Ann Cotton (Honorary Doctor of Law) is Founder and Executive Director of a highly successful £2 million charity at the forefront of the field of girls' education. CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education) began in 1993, when Cotton raised enough money through a Cambridge market food stall to send 32 girls in Zimbabwe to school. Now, CAMFED is reaching out to more than 427,000 children and young people across Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana and Tanzania. Ms Cotton's efforts have garnered numerous international accolades. In 2003, CAMFED was voted International Charity of the Year. In 2005, Ann Cotton was named as the Ernst & Young's Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the UK. She is also Entrepreneur in Residence at the Judge Business School in Cambridge, an Honorary Fellow of the Open University and a 2005 Beacon Prize winner alongside Jamie Oliver and Bob Geldof. This year, her contribution to girls' education was recognised when she was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.

Baroness O'Neill
The philosopher Baroness O'Neill (Honorary Doctor of Law) is President of the British Academy and chair of the Nuffield Foundation, one of the UK's best known charitable trusts. She was Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1992 to 2006. Onora O'Neill is a senior figure in medical ethics and has written widely on political philosophy, international justice, bioethics and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. She has served as President of the Aristotelian Society, and as member of the Animal Procedures (Scientific) Committee. In 2002, she addressed the issue of trust in the BBC's Reith Lectures. Born in Northern Ireland, she studied philosophy, psychology and physiology at Oxford University, completing her doctorate at Harvard University. Prior to her appointment at Cambridge, she taught at Barnard College and the University of Essex. She was created a Life Peer in 1999, with the title Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve, and sits as a cross-bencher.

Sir Nicholas Stern
Sir Nicholas Stern (Honorary Doctor of Law) was the Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003, and is now a civil servant and government economic advisor in the United Kingdom. In July 2005 he was appointed to head a Cabinet Office team conducting reviews on the economics of climate change and also of development, which led to the publication of the Stern Review. Released on the 30 October 2006, the report gained global media attention for its conclusions on the potential impact of climate change. Prior to the report, Sir Nicholas had held the positions of second permanent secretary at H.M Treasury, head of the Government Economic Service and Director of Policy and Research for the Commission for Africa. Sir Nicholas has taught at Cambridge, the University of Warwick and at the London School of Economics, and has written books on Kenya and the Green Revolution in India. He studied mathematics at Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he is now an Honorary Fellow, and earned his doctorate in economics at Nuffield College, Oxford. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1993 and is an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he was made a Knight Bachelor.

Dr Richard Leakey
Dr Richard Leakey (Honorary Doctor of Science), a renowned palaeoanthropologist and environmentalist, has made international headlines for his work in Kenya. He has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific articles and books, including The Origin of Humankind, Origins Reconsidered, and The Sixth Extinction. As the second of Louis and Mary Leakey's three sons, he began participating in fossil-hunting expeditions from an early age. In the 30 years following Dr Leakey's first expedition, he and his team of palaeoanthropologists unearthed more than two-hundred fossils, including “Turkana Boy,” a Homo Erectus roughly 1.6 million years old, one of the most complete skeletons ever found. From 1968 to 1989 he served as Director of the National Museums of Kenya. His interest in conservation issues led him to the post of Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service from 1989 to 1994. He has been active in Kenyan politics, and was Secretary General of the Kenyan opposition party Safina. In December 1997, he was elected to an opposition seat in the Kenyan parliament. Although no longer active in fieldwork, he continues to educate others about the dangers of environmental degradation through his many lectures and books.

Sir John Gurdon
Sir John Gurdon (Honorary Doctor of Science) is a British developmental biologist, best known for his pioneering research in nuclear transplantation and cloning. Sir John studied with Michael Fischberg at Oxford, and then did postdoctoral work at Caltech. He has spent much of his research career in Cambridge, first at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, 1971 to 1983, and then at the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology. In 1989, he was a founding member of the Wellcome/CRC Institute for Cell Biology and Cancer in Cambridge, which was renamed the Gurdon Institute in his honour in 2004. He served as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, from 1995 to 2002. His research included experimentations in the 1960s with cloning, first with South African clawed frogs, later with tadpoles. His experiments captured the attention of the scientific community and the tools and techniques he developed for nuclear transfer are still used today. He was made a Fellow of
the Royal Society in 1971, and was knighted in 1995. Sir John, who is Chairman of the Company of Biologists charity, has received numerous awards, medals and honorary degrees.

David Hockney
David Hockney (Honorary Doctor of Letters) is an English painter, printmaker, photographer and stage designer. Born in Bradford, England, Hockney obtained a traditional art education at the Bradford School of Art. In 1959, he began post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Art, London, where he began to develop his distinctive, modern style, recognized with the 1962 Royal College of Art gold medal. He moved to the US in the 1960s, where the Museum of Modern Art purchased two of his etchings, his work began showing in New York galleries, and he became associated with the Pop Art movement. Hockney is a versatile artist whose technical experimentation has included the media of painted portraiture, etching, printing, sketching and photo collage. He also has enjoyed a prolific career in stage design, with his credits including productions at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He now divides his time between studios in Los Angeles and Miami and is considered by many critics to be one of the most important English artists living today, known for a naturalistic, realistic style.

Claire Tomalin
Writer Claire Tomalin (Honorary Doctor of Letters) is the author of highly acclaimed biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft, Katherine Mansfield, Jane Austen nd Samuel Pepys. Born in London, she attended Newnham College, Cambridge, and worked in publishing for Heinemann, Hutchinson and Cape after graduation. Later, she switched to journalism, becoming literary editor of both the New Statesman magazine and the Sunday Times. Her account of Charles Dickens' relationship with the actress Nelly Ternan, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (1990) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography), the NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction and the Hawthornden Prize. Her biography of the seventeenth-century diarist Samuel Pepys (2002) won the 2002 Whitbread Book of the Year award. Her most recent book is Time-Torn Man: A Life of Thomas Hardy (2006). She is a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, London and the Wordsworth Trust, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Vice-President of English PEN. She is an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College and of Lucy Cavendish College and an Honorary Member of Magdalene College.

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