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Honorary Degree Orations
Professor Adrian Smith
Public Orator, Dr Tony Croft presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Friday 14 July at 10.30am
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, new graduates, Ladies & Gentlemen.
Mathematics & Statistics are of central importance to our modern society. In addition to being intellectual pursuits in their own right, more than ever before they provide the language and tools that are used to describe and analyse the world in which we live. They underlie an enormous range of scientific, medical, economic and engineering developments ranging from MRI scanners to mobile phone technologies.
Given the importance of mathematics and statistics it is disturbing to find that so many young people in the UK are turned off from studying mathematics and mathematically-based subjects. Both the Higher Education sector and employers bemoan the dearth of young people who possess the mathematical skills they require. There is a chronic shortage of specialist mathematics teachers in schools. Until very recently, a lack of infrastructure to support the continuing professional development of teachers has impeded attempts to improve the situation.
After a period in the doldrums, there now appears to be some light at the end of tunnel. In 2002 Professor Adrian Smith was invited by the Secretary of State for Education to lead an Inquiry into Post-14 mathematics with a view to making recommendations which would revitalise mathematics education in the UK. The Report of this inquiry was published in early 2004. Professor Smith’s recommendations are now informing the design of new pathways in mathematics within the 14-19 framework. His Inquiry was charged with drawing up plans for a new National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, the fruits of which are now emerging, and in June this year the new National Centre was launched.
Educated at Selwyn College Cambridge and University College London, Adrian Smith became Professor of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Nottingham in 1977. The fact that he became a Professor of Mathematical Statistics under the age of 30 is testament to his intellect and the esteem with which he is held. He was Professor of Statistics and Head of Mathematics at Imperial College from 1990 to 1998. He was then appointed Principal of Queen Mary, University of London. This month he takes up a further part-time appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of London.
He is a recent President of the Royal Statistical Society and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001.
There are many reasons why Adrian should be honoured. Today it is his contribution to revitalising the health of mathematics education that we wish to acknowledge and celebrate. It is particularly fitting that such a celebration should take place here at Loughborough University, which through its Mathematics Education Centre, a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, has championed the mathematics support of students across the full range of disciplines studied here.
Therefore, Chancellor, I have the privilege of presenting to you and to the University, Professor Adrian Smith, for the degree of DOCTOR OF SCIENCE, honoris causa.