Honorary Graduates 2014 (May)

Sir Ralph Kohn, KT., FRS
Doctor of Science

Ralph Kohn has achieved distinction as a medical scientist, musician and entrepreneur. Born in Leipzig, Germany, he left with his family as a result of the Nazi persecution in the 1930s. He then lived in Amsterdam until 1940, when he fled to England after the German Invasion of the Netherlands.

He obtained his PhD in Pharmacology at Manchester University and subsequently carried out three years of postdoctoral research at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, with Sir Ernst Chain FRS (who shared the Nobel Prize for Penicillin with Fleming and Florey in 1945), and with Professor Daniel Bovet, the 1957 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. Dr Kohn also spent a year as a postdoctoral Fellow at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, in the Department of Pharmacology with the distinguished pharmacologist Dr Alfred Gilman.

After twelve years as senior executive in the international pharmaceutical industry, Ralph Kohn established in London the first independent medical research organisation particularly focused on the clinical evaluation of new drugs. For this work, he received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Industry in 1990, and he has worked in close collaboration with many well-known international pharmaceutical companies.

His contributions to the world of science have been widely acknowledged. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Doctor of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), Honorary Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society, and he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2006. He established the Kohn Foundation in 1991 in support of science, medicine, the arts (particularly music) and Humanitarian Aid.

Ralph Kohn is also a musician of professional standard, having studied first the violin, and subsequently trained vocally as a baritone. In addition to giving many public performances, he has recorded sixteen CDs, mainly in the Lieder repertoire, and these recordings include the major song cycles by Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, and Mahler, accompanied by leading British pianists, including the acclaimed Graham Johnson. He has also made orchestral recordings with the English Chamber Orchestra. He is particularly associated with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The Kohn Foundation is closely involved with the Royal Academy of Music in their on-going Bach Cantata Series, and with support for Wigmore Hall’s International Song Competition, in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (London), and a Doctor of Music.

He has been elected Fellow of the European Academy, and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009, the citation being ‘for services to science, music and charity’.

Dame Janet Suzman, DBE
Doctor of Letters

Janet Suzman left her native South Africa to explore her love of English in general and Shakespeare in particular by training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and then joining the Royal Shakespeare Company (of which she is an Honorary Associate Artist) for the famous Wars of the Roses series, the 1963 adaptation of Shakespeare’s first historical tetralogy (Henry VI, Parts 1-3, and Richard III); she has subsequently played many of the major Shakespearian heroines.

Her work as an actor has been widely honoured. She received an Academy Award Nomination for Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), in which she played the eponymous Tsarina; and she has twice won The Evening Standard Best Actress Award for her work for the stage. She is proud to have once made a film with the great Italian director, Federico Fellini. Her other films include The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), the six-part BBC series The Singing Detective (1986), and A Dry White Season (1989).

She is a patron of the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, where, three years before Nelson Mandela was released, she directed what is now called ‘the Johannesburg Othello’. She directed Kim Cattrall as Cleopatra twice, at the Liverpool Playhouse and again at the Chichester Theatre. Last year she played a new South African work, Solomon and Marion by Lara Foot, in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Natal and at the Edinburgh Festival (where she was nominated Best Actress of the Fringe). The play will come to London later this year.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2011.

Sir Rodric Quentin Braithwaite, GCMG
Doctor of Letters

Rodric Braithwaite was born in London in 1932. His father, Warwick Braithwaite, was then a conductor at Sadler’s Wells Opera. He was educated at Bedales, served in military intelligence in Vienna in 1951 and 1952, studied French and Russian at Cambridge, and joined the Diplomatic Service in 1955.

He had postings in Jakarta, Warsaw, Moscow, Rome, Brussels (British delegation to the European Community) and Washington.

He was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 1972-3. He was a member of the Sherpa team for the G7 Economic Summits (1984-8), British ambassador in Moscow (1988-1992), and Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister (John Major) and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (1992-3).

Since leaving government service, Rodric Braithwaite has been a Governor of the English National Opera, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Music, Senior Adviser to Deutsche Bank, and has had a number of other business and not-for-profit appointments. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington for April-June 2005.

He is a member (formerly Chairman) of the International Advisory Council of the Moscow School of Political Studies. He a member (former Chairman) of the Programme Committee of the Ditchley Foundation and a member of its governing body. He is also an Honorary Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and an Honorary Doctor and Professor of Birmingham University.

He regularly speaks and writes on Russia and other matters. He has written two books on Russian affairs: Across the Moscow River (2002), about the collapse of the Soviet Union; and Moscow 1941: A City and its People at War (2006), which has appeared in eighteen languages. His latest book, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-1989, was published by Profile Books in March 2011 and is currently being translated into Russian, Polish, Ukrainian and Japanese. Among the journals and newspapers he has contributed to are The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard, The New Statesman, Prospect Magazine, and Survival.

In 1961, he married Gillian (Jill) Robinson, an archaeologist and former diplomat, who died in November 2008. They have five children (one deceased).


  1. Titles correct at time of conferment
  2. (d) indicates those Honorary Graduates who are now deceased