Degree Speeches
Winter 2003

Barbara Stocking CBE

Public Orator, Professor David Slater, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 15 December 2003

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and Graduates

One of the most crucial issues in our globalizing world concerns the persistence of poverty and inequality in the countries of the South. For example, just under 3 billion people still live on less than $2 a day, whilst by the turn of the millennium the richest 1 per cent of the world's people received as much income each year as the poorest 57 per cent . The need to reduce such disparities has become an increasingly important part of the overall strategy of the NGOs that focus on questions of development. In Britain , Oxfam is one of the most innovative of such NGOs, being creatively led by Barbara Stocking, its director.

Barbara graduated in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University in 1972, and two years later acquired a Master's degree in Reproductive Physiology from the University of Wisconsin. From being a staff associate at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC , and later a Research Fellow at Sussex University, in 1979 Barbara went on to work for the World Health Organization in West Africa.

By the mid-1980s she became director of the King's Fund Centre for Health Services Development, a renowned health care charity. Her achievements in that post included the establishment of Nursing Development Units across the UK and the setting up of innovative schemes to provide services for people from ethnic minorities. Successfully launched on a career in the National Health Service, by the late 1990s, Barbara Stocking had become the NHS's Regional Director for the South East Region, being responsible for the overall management of health care for 8.5 million people. Barbara has received a series of honours for her outstanding contributions to health care, culminating with the award of CBE in 2000.

In 2001 Barbara became the Director of Oxfam, an organization with projects in 80 countries . With an already distinguished career in the National Health Service behind her, Barbara is now bringing her talents to bear on the interface between welfare and development. She brings to the development world a pro-active, impassioned and multi-dimensional imagination. With an analytical perspective and a 'can-do' take on leadership, Barbara believes in the importance of bringing out the resourcefulness and capacities of people who often live on the edge, materially and socially.

In her varied work environment, flexible engagement is a key resource. For example, at one moment , she will be engaged in detailed discussion with the Director of the International Monetary Fund and 24 hours later Barbara will be in the middle of a field in a West African country, being followed by a group of smiling, curious children who are wondering, what is this foreign visitor looking for...

Being human, nurturing humane attitudes to life, bringing a passion to management, and engendering an ethic of hope - these are some of the ingredients that make Barbara's contribution so distinctive. With her leadership, the impact of Oxfam on the advancement of a more equitable approach to development will certainly be propelled forward.

Therefore, Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you and the whole University - Barbara Stocking for the Degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa

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