Citations and Speeches

Citations

56th Congregation (1961)

Sir Christopher William Machell COX
K.C.M.G., M.A., Hon.D.Lit.

The Public Orator Professor D. Barker, M.A., D.Phil., wrote and delivered the following citation:

The role of adviser, as every parent knows, brings more frustration than reward. Advice sought by governments and universities all too often ends up on the shelf or in a pigeon-hole, like the medicine we get from the doctor but never use. Sir Christopher has spent many years advising the Secretary of State for the Colonies about education. Just how much of his advice as filled shelves or pigeon-holes is a matter for conjecture, but a great deal of constructive help has originated from his desk and percolated through to Hong Kong during the past two decades. In fact, had it not been for a report on the future of the University drawn up under the chairmanship of Sir Christopher in 1946, it is doubtful whether we should be here to honour him today.

He was born in 1899 and educated at Clifton College and Balliol College, Oxford, which he entered having served for a period in the Signals Branch of the Royal Engineers towards the end of the First World War. Having obtained First Class honours in both Classical Moderations and Greats, he traced a distinguished scholastic path among Oxford's dreaming spires, first as War Memorial Student at Balliol from 1923 to 1924, then as Craven Fellow of the University and Senior Demy at Magdalen and finally as Fellow of New College in 1926, becoming Subwarden there in 1931, and Dean between 1934 and 1936. During this time he made a number of visits to Turkey for the purpose of archaeological exploration publishing his discoveries in Volume V of the Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua in 1937. He then spent three years as the Principal of Gordon College, Khar-toum, serving simultaneously as Director of Education for the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and as member of the Governor General's Council. Since 1940 he has served as Educational Adviser at that desk in Whitehall already referred to, and though the winds of change have altered the title of his post, the location of his desk, and perhaps even the desk itself, his function remains much the same. His wise counsel, both as Educational Adviser and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Inter-University Council, has proved immensely valuable during the post-war years, which have witnessed the creation of a number of new Commonwealth Universities and the rehabilitation and expansion of others like our own. This development has undoubtedly been facilitated by the fact that for no less than twenty-one years the course taken has been coxed by Sir Christopher, though we do not intend to imply, in any sense, that during this time he has carried little weight, or that he has been the only one to see where we are all going. For his services to education, Sir Christopher was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1944, and raised to the status of Knight Commander in this Order in 1950. In July this year he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the Queen's University, Belfast. We now have much pleasure, Mr. Chancellor, in requesting that you confer upon him our honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.