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On 28 September 2018 David O’Connor was admitted to the honorary degree of Master of Arts in a ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre.

David was commended by the Department and his laboratory colleagues for his forty six years of service and stewardship which was recognised with his honorary degree. A brief summary of David’s contribution to the work and life of the Department over those years was presented during the ceremony: the full text is provided below.

David celebrated with family, friends and colleagues with afternoon tea at the Department following the degree conferral ceremony.

David retired from the Department in September of 2017 and is remembered very fondly by many of us for his irrepressible, dry sense of humour and tireless commitment to Departmental teaching

Wording from the ceremony

Ideas, as we know, inspire action. But so many of the ideas of scientific research cannot be realized in the first place, let alone tested, without the practical action and creative talent of genuinely competent persons. Scientists need help! I introduce here a man who combines in himself a kindly and exceptionally effective interest in people and a deep, we might even say empathetic, understanding of machinery. Indeed his admiring colleagues say that in the Physiology lab the machines always wanted to have him around, and the spectrometer sulked miserably when David went away. No pathetic fallacy here! On leaving school as a youngish teenager he proceeded, as a junior technician, to educate himself somewhat better than most of us who stayed on; the groves of zoology, animal ecology and electronics have become to him as familiar as the music of saxophone and motor-cycle engines, and despite the allure of building a ‘man-cave’ in his retirement it is clear that much will be heard from him in both these melodic styles. The forbidding more recent title of ‘Operations Manager’ but thinly masks here one who rapidly became a true chief among Chief Technicians, a sporting, gardening man of consummate good humour, a benevolent mimic with an unusual talent for accents and telling gestures, a friend to students and colleagues alike, one who I understand it will be much to my advantage to have with me in a lifeboat when that time comes to cast off. His legacy will be great in the Oxford physiological sphere, and after his forty-six years of service and stewardship we proudly commend him, one who has, we hear, ‘given us a good perspective on the trials of life, including those involving our ageing bodies’!

I present a kindly yet authoritative supporter of our physiological endeavours, a friend to both science and scientists, David O’Connor, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Master of Arts.


Admission by the Vice-Chancellor

Benign Operations Manager, nay, Supreme among Chief Technicians, who embody the virtues of practical wisdom and friendliness, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

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