Oxford honourary degree recipients 2023: Former President of Chile, BBC’s Chief International Correspondent and more

Eight widely-esteemed individuals including former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, Professor Sir Simon Schama, and the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, Lyse Doucet, received honorary degrees from Oxford University at the annual Encaenia ceremony on Wednesday 21 June 2023.

The distinguished roster of honorands for 2023 is intended to exemplify excellence across diverse fields.

Professor Frances Arnold, an American chemical engineer and Nobel Prize laureate, was recognized for her pioneering work in directed evolution methods used to create enzymes for sustainable chemistry applications. She currently holds the Linus Pauling Professorship at the California Institute of Technology.

Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile and recent United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, received an honorary degree in recognition of her outstanding leadership, particularly in championing social protections for women and children, marine conservation, renewable energy production, and gender equality.

Lyse Doucet CM OBE, the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, was honored for her exceptional journalism career, which spans reporting from conflict zones such as Ukraine and Afghanistan. Doucet’s dedication to delivering objective news coverage has earned her numerous awards and accolades.

Professor Stephen Furber CBE FRS FREng, the ICL Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Manchester, was acknowledged for his significant contributions to computer science, particularly in the areas of asynchronous and low-power systems, as well as neural systems engineering.

Professor Paul Gilroy, a cultural and social theorist and the Professor of Humanities at University College London, was recognized for his thought-provoking scholarship and research on racism and racialization. He has made profound contributions to academia and has been honored with prestigious awards and honorary doctorates.

Val McDermid FRSE FRSL, an award-winning journalist and bestselling author, was celebrated for her extraordinary literary career spanning over 40 languages. Her captivating crime novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide, establishing her as a leading figure in the genre.

Professor Malik Peiris SBS FRS FRCP FRCPath FFPH, a distinguished virologist based at the School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, received an honorary degree in recognition of his pivotal role in identifying the novel coronavirus responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak. His research has contributed significantly to understanding and combating emerging viral diseases.

Professor Sir Simon Schama CBE FBA FRHistS FRSL, an eminent historian, author, and presenter, was honored for his extensive contributions to art history and history. With 19 books to his name and a wealth of documentaries for BBC television, Schama’s works have garnered critical acclaim and international recognition.

Honorary degrees have been awarded by the University of Oxford since 1478. The Encaenia ceremony awards honorary degrees to distinguished individuals and commemorates its benefactors annually on the Wednesday of ninth week during Trinity Term.