Honorary awards

Viscount Nuffield

The degree of Doctor of Laws ad eundem gradum was conferred upon Viscount Nuffield at the ceremony held on 21 February 1938 in the Great Hall.

Lord Nuffield

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

Lord Nuffield

Lord Nuffield with Chancellor Sir Percival Halse Rogers after the conferring ceremony, Hood Collection, Mitchell Pictures, State Library of NSW.

Report on the conferring ceremony

With dignified and impressive ceremonial, Lord Nuffield was on the 21st February (1938) admitted by the Senate to the degree of Doctor of Laws, ad eundem gradum.

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 Honourable Sir Percival Halse Rogers KBE), 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."

From the Report of the Senate of the University of Sydney for the year ended 31st December, 1938 for the information of His Excellency the Governor and the Executive Council