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Celebrating global achievements: honorary degrees ceremony 2012 - Vice-Chancellor's address

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Published on Nov 14, 2012

Five exceptional individuals including an Academy Award-winning actress, a Nobel Laureate, an internationally recognised astronomer, an Australian literary icon and an exceptional Aboriginal musician assembled at the University of Sydney on Saturday 10 November to accept honorary degrees.

With the University's much-loved jacaranda in full bloom, Cate Blanchett, Dr Robin Warren, Lord Martin Rees, Kate Grenville and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu donned academic caps and gowns in the University's iconic sandstone Quadrangle before accepting their degrees in the Great Hall.

From Dr Robin Warren's tips on how to win a Nobel Prize to Gurrumul Yunupingu's hauntingly beautiful song 'Bapa', dedicated to his father and the role fathers play in society, the five honorands shared their wisdom on what keeps them motivated, how they reached their goals, and what the future holds in their fields.

In congratulating the honorands, Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence recalled the reaction of a group of students at the first honorary degree ceremony in 1901.

"They were excited by the mission of this place: a mission of excellence in service; a call to make a difference. Each of this evening's honorands has been chosen by the University community because we think that they are standard bearers for that fine tradition."

Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals who have achieved exceptional academic or creative excellence, or who have made an outstanding contribution to the wider community. Previous honorands include Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Germaine Greer, Charles Perkins, Margaret Olley, James Wolfensohn, Gough Whitlam, Yvonne Kenny and Nancy Bird-Walton.

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