Citations and Speeches

Citations

54th Congregation (1961)

Sir Alexander OPPENHEIM
O.B.E., M.A., D.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.E.

It is our good fortune as a University of the British Commonwealth situated in the Far East to have a companion, if also at times a rival, institution in this region whose academic habits we can understand and largely share. In spite of the great difference in age between ourselves and the University of Malaya (they are very young indeed) it must be acknowledge that we are extremely good friends. Partly, no doubt, this is because we have many interests, and also a few problems, in common. But it is also due in great measure to the active co-operation and goodwill of individuals, such as Dr. Alexander Oppenheim, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malaya, whom we gladly welcome into our society today. Already a mathematician of international repute when he joined Raffles College, Singapore, in 1931 as Professor of Mathematics, he has ever since devoted his remarkable energies to the service of higher education in Singapore and Malaya. Ever since, that is, with the exception of those years during which, as a prisoner of war, he was engaged on a railway building project in Siam. During the course of that rigorous employment, we believe, Bombardier Oppenheim was more than once almost given up for dead; but he himself had other ideas on the matter, and most resolutely refused to die. Today, very much alive, the ex-bombardier and railway builder has become Vice-Chancellor.

We are not sure whether the busy duties of a Vice-Chancellorship permit him much time nowadays for higher mathematics, or even for a quiet game of chess. It seems most unlikely, considering the heavy burden of administrative responsibility that must be involved in creating a new division of the University on the Malayan Peninsula, as well as in carrying out a programme of expansion for the University of Malaya as a whole. But whatever burdens Dr. Oppenheim may be called upon to bear, we may be sure that they will be fully matched by his great courage.

He received a well-merited Knighthood in the recent New Year's Honours List.

Citation written and delivered by Dr the Hon. A. M. Rodrigues, Chairman of the Jubilee Committee.