Honorary awards

Viscount Nuffield

The degree of Doctor of Laws* was conferred ad eundem gradum upon Viscount Nuffield by the Chancellor The Honourable Sir Percival Halse Rogers KBE at a ceremony held at 11.30am on Monday 21 February 1938 in the Great Hall.

Viscount Nuffield was visiting Sydney for the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Foundation of Australia.

* As there was no provision in the University Act until 1952 for conferring of honorary degrees by the University of Sydney, the University awarded a number of degrees 'ad eundem gradum' - mostly Doctor of Laws - as a mark of special honour. Those who received this award included members of the Royal Family, Governors-General, distinguished soldiers and leaders of industry.

Lord Nuffield

From left: Chancellor Sir Percival Halse Rogers with Lord Nuffield, Hood Collection, Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW.

Lord Nuffield

Lord Nuffield during the conferring ceremony, Hood Collection, Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW.

Lord Nuffield

Lord Nuffield and the Chancellor followed by the Lord Mayor after the conferring ceremony, Hood Collection, Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW.


In its 85 years of history, the University has made only ten such admissions, and these include members of the Royal Family, Governors-General, and distinguished soldiers. This was the first occasion on which a leader of industry had been admitted.

The Great Hall of the University was crowded when the ceremony began, those present including the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Alderman Nock, and Mrs Nock, the Minister for Education, Mr D H Drummond, the Attorney-General, Sir Henry Manning, Fellows of the Senate, and officers and members of the University.

In presenting Lord Nuffield to the Chancellor, the Dean of the Faculty of Law (Sir John Peden) said that it was the wish of the University to honour a great industrialist who had used his wealth for the relief of suffering and the promotion of research in education, and who, with wisdom and vision, had done great work for the men, women and children of his own time, and for those of years to come.

The Chancellor, in conferring the degree, said that the University was conferring on the guest the highest honour which it could bestow. He went on to say that Lord Nuffield was a strong, almost passionate, believer in University education, and his benefactions had directed the attention of the whole mass of the people towards the importance of postgraduate study. He had initiated a new movement - the linking of academic activities with the ordinary life of the community. Lord Nuffield realises that there has always been criticism that those who have the advantage of a University education do not apply for the general good what the University has given them. In these days there is the difficulty, in a University, of balancing the strictly technical side and the cultural side, and there has been a tendency in recent years for the cultural side to suffer because of the development of scientific education merely as a basis for qualification for a degree, which will entitle the holder to practise some profession. Lord Nuffield is making a striking attempt to bring about a great change, to bridge the gulf which he feels to exist, and to bring closer the relations between those who are engaged in industrial life and those who have had a University training, and the benefit of close connections with academic institutions.

In his reply after having been admitted to the degree, Lord Nuffield said '''You do me an honour I shall remember for the rest of my life. I only hope that it is justified, and that I may continue to justify it in the future. I fervently hope that others who follow me will carry on the work I have tried to do.

It will, I think, be of great benefit to mankind. This degree I will take back to Oxford as one of my most treasured possessions, and I promise to continue to do everything possible for the suffering and the deformed."

The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor, Dr R S Wallace, entertained Lord Nuffield at luncheon after the degree was conferred, and he dined with members of the University Club in the evening.

From Senate's 1938 Annual Report