Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes centre stage at Honorary Degrees

Posted on: 22 June 2018

Trinity recognised the former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton along with four other pre-eminent individuals for their contribution to society at today’s honorary degree ceremony. The impressive line-up included prominent US philanthropist, Dr James Simons; President of the Confederation of British Industry, Paul Drechsler;  Archivist at the Irish Architectural Archive, Ann Martha Rowan; and co-founder of the  Young  Scientist Exhibition,  Dr Tony Scott.

From L-R: Secretary Clinton, Chancellor Mary Robinson, Dr Scott, Provost, Paul Drechsler, Ann Martha Rowan & Dr James Simons.

The former US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been a longtime supporter of Ireland and especially the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.  Throughout her long political career she has devoted her life to advocacy and public service in her various roles as Secretary of State, Senator as well as the first female nominee for President of the United States from a major party. Adding to her many accolades she was awarded a Doctor in Laws today.  Her vision and mission were captured in the Public Orator, Professor Anna Chahoud’s oration in her honour:

“Almost sixty-six million people have given her their vote of confidence, sharing her belief that a true democracy is a society in which everyone is equally valued as a human being, from infancy to old age, irrespective of gender, status or nationality; it is a society in which women have the power to effect a transformative change towards development, justice, and peace.”

Honorary degree candidates in procession on Front Square.

Secretary Clinton was joined by another fellow American, Dr James Simons the renowned mathematician, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has embodied scientific excellence throughout his career. He was conferred with a Doctor in Science.  As a mathematician his work had profound influence on the development of modern theoretical physics.  He went on to found Renaissance Technologies, a private hedge fund investment company based in New York. His philanthropic activities are significant and through the Simons Foundation he has provided substantial funding to scientists and institutions in the US and abroad, supporting diverse areas such as mathematics, physics, ocean science, brain science and the science of autism.

The Public Orator succinctly described his immense ability and contribution to society:

“Mathematics has taken him through a marvellous journey of discovery, distinction, and boundless benefaction”. 

Another pioneering role model and also a graduate of Trinity, Paul Drechsler, was conferred with a Doctor in Laws.  He has been previously honoured with a CBE for services to industry and is now Chairman of the longest established shipping line in Britain, the Bibby Line Group. In 2015 he was appointed President of the Confederation of British Industry. He has also used his leadership skills, helping combat poverty, specifically through the promotion of education which the Public Orator emphasised in her oration:

“But this is not merely a story of personal success; it is the celebration of an engineer devoted to making our children’s dreams come true. These touching words inaugurated his most recent position: ‘I’m looking forward to getting my feet under the desk, helping to power productivity and making sure our young people get the right education and skills to help them succeed in the economy of the twenty-first century.’”

College community and public applaud the candidates.

For her significant contribution to the history of architecture, Ann Martha Rowan, who served as Archivist in the Irish Architectural Archive for more than 30 years, was conferred with a Master in Letters. She single-handedly initiated and completed the Dictionary of Irish Architects in 2009, which was an enormous accomplishment and produced one of the most valuable pieces of research in Irish archival history. The Public Orator described this transformative piece of work:

“It was in the Archive that she came upon the treasure left by the eminent architect Alfred Edwin Jones. She transformed, and enormously enlarged that wealth of material into a detailed, accurate, comprehensive biographical index of architects, builders and craftsmen, covering nearly fifty thousand buildings in our island. The Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 is not only immensely authoritative; it is a democratic masterpiece of Digital Humanities.”

Finally, Dr Tony Scott, who has made an enormous contribution to science education in Ireland was conferred with a Doctor in Education. He co-founded the Young Scientist exhibition in 1963 and has been actively involved in its organisation for more than 50 years. It became an example for similar competitions in other countries and in 1989 the European Union Contest for Young Scientists was established. Throughout an academic career in Physics at UCD where he was also Dean of Science, he was known as an inspirational teacher and his research led to the development of the smoke alarm. While President of the Royal Dublin Society he was involved in reviving the Boyle medal ? Ireland’s most prestigious scientific award.

The Public Orator in praise of his significant contribution to the public awareness of science said:

“This man’s ability to stimulate an understanding of the physical world and the role of humanity in it (if I may borrow the phrase inscribed in the Kelvin Medal of the Institute of Physics, one of his many public recognitions) has been extraordinary.”

Secretary Clinton receives her honorary degree.

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