Six people will receive honorary degrees from Oxford University this year

Published: 24 April 2024


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At the Encaenia ceremony on June 19, degrees will be awarded to Warren East, Sir Demis Hassabis, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sir Michael Palin, Anoushka Shankar and Professor Salim Yusuf.

Warren East

(David) Warren East CBE, FRS, FREng, FIET, FRAeS, FBCS is a British engineer and businessperson. He was appointed CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours ‘for services to the technology industry’. After studying Engineering Science at Oxford University, Warren earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Cranfield University. He spent 11 years with Texas Instruments before joining ARM Holdings, where he was made CEO in 2001. Warren was then appointed to lead Rolls-Royce Holdings as CEO from 2015–2022. He is currently a non-executive director at Tokamak Energy, a member of the supervisory board at ASML NV, chair of C-Capture, and serves on the advisory board for Avina Clean Hydrogen. Warren is an Executive in Residence at the Saïd Business School at Oxford and an Honorary Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford.

Sir Demis Hassabis

Sir Demis Hassabis, CBE, PhD, FRS, FREng, is a British computer scientist, artificial intelligence researcher and entrepreneur. In 2024, Demis was awarded a knighthood for services to Artificial Intelligence. Demis is the co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind, which has been responsible for numerous landmark AI breakthroughs such as AlphaGo, the first program to beat the world champion at the complex game of Go. In 2020, DeepMind’s AI system AlphaFold solved the 50-year grand challenge of protein structure prediction by accurately predicting the 3D shape of proteins. Aged 17, Demis co-designed the multi-million selling AI simulation video game Theme Park. After graduating from Cambridge University in Computer Science, he founded videogames developer Elixir Studios. Demis completed a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL and continued his postdoctoral studies at MIT and Harvard before founding DeepMind. Demis has won many international awards for his research and is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist and the seventh Director General of the World Trade Organization. She took office in 2021, becoming the first woman and the first African to hold the position. In 2022, Dr Okonjo-Iweala became the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), Nigeria's second highest honour. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum and co-chairs the Global Commission on the Economics of Water. Previously, Dr Okonjo-Iweala became the first woman to serve as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, a post she held for seven years in two terms, and also served briefly as the first female Foreign Affairs Minister. A 25-year career at the World Bank culminated in Dr Okonjo-Iweala being appointed Managing Director in 2007. She is the recipient of numerous honours and in 2019 was inducted as an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Warren East, Sir Demis Hassabis and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Warren East, Sir Demis Hassabis and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Sir Michael Palin

Sir Michael Palin, KCMG, CBE, FRGS, FRSGS, FRSL is an actor, comedian, writer, and television presenter. He was knighted in 2019 for ‘services to travel, culture and geography’. Sir Michael has written and starred in numerous TV programmes and films, from Monty Python and Ripping Yarns to A Fish Called Wanda and The Death of Stalin. He has also made several much-acclaimed travel documentaries; his journeys taking him to the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe and Brazil. From 2009 to 2012 he was president of the Royal Geographical Society. His writing includes accounts of his journeys, fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, plays and several volumes of diaries. Sir Michael is the recipient of a number of BAFTA Awards and received the National Television Award for Special Recognition in 2020. He was also recognised with a BAFTA fellowship in 2013.

Anoushka Shankar

Anoushka Shankar is a British-Indian-American musician, sitarist, composer and producer. Anoushka began studying the sitar as a child under her father, Ravi Shankar, and made her performing debut aged 13. Since releasing her first solo album at 17, she has made ten studio albums, three live albums and numerous collaborative recordings. Among her accolades are nine Grammy nominations, an Ivor Novello Award nomination, a number of Eastern Eye ACTA awards and a Songlines Best Artist Award. Anoushka frequently works with organisations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Choose Love, to raise funds and awareness for the refugee crisis. She has also been outspoken about her own experiences, supporting campaigns such as One Billion Rising. Anoushka is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and was one of the first female composers to be added to the A-Level music syllabus by one of Britain’s biggest exam boards.

Professor Salim Yusuf

Professor Salim Yusuf, OC, FRSC, FRCPC is an internationally renowned Canadian cardiologist and epidemiologist, whose work over 40 years has substantially influenced prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Among his current affiliations, Professor Yusuf is Distinguished University Professor of Medicine at McMaster University and Executive Director of the Population Health Research Institute, Canada. He holds a Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario Research Chair and in 2023 was elected as an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. He was President of the World Heart Federation, 2015–16. Professor Yusuf was born in India and studied medicine at St John’s Medical College in Bangalore, before earning a DPhil at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. Professor Yusuf has received more than 75 international and national awards for his research including a World Heart Federation Lifetime Achievement Award. He was the 2020 recipient of the McLaughlin Medal from the Royal Society of Canada and appointed an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2013.

Sir Michael Palin, Anoushka Shankar and Professor Salim Yusuf

Sir Michael Palin, Anoushka Shankar and Professor Salim Yusuf

Picture credits: University of Oxford

Ticket registration will open on the 29 April for staff, Congregation, students, Oxford University alumni, retired members of Congregation and academic visitors. We are sorry that tickets to the ceremony are not available to members of the public.