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Professor Uta Frith made an honorary DBE
Professor Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at University College London and Research Foundation Professor at the Faculties of Humanities and Health Sciences, University of Aarhus, Denmark, was made an honorary Dame of the British Empire for services to clinical science in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours. We asked her for her reflections on her honour:
I am not to be called Dame because the title is honorary, but I can carry the three short and significant letters DBE after my name, which makes me incredibly proud.
The title is an honorary one because I am still a foreigner, even though I have lived in this country for nearly 50 years. You can't have dual nationality if you are German and it has always seemed to me to be silly to give up my nationality of birth, when it is obvious to anyone that I am German as soon as I open my mouth.
Still I don't feel like a foreigner, which is a fantastic credit to UK academia. Here I have always been received with generosity and kindness and without a trace of discrimination.
We should celebrate this in particular in view of recent politically motivated trends to cut down numbers of foreign students. I hope this trend will be seen as a regrettable and retrograde step. It flies in the face of a proud tradition that universities can trace as far back as to their origins in medieval times.
Scholars always travelled across borders and learning and teaching was spreading precisely because of their travels. This is well documented and also reflected in the fact that the lingua franca was Latin which was widely used and understood. Now, of course it is English, and this conveys inestimable advantage to British universities.
These thoughts were made particularly vivid to me yesterday when I received an honorary degree from the University of Cambridge, where four of the eight honorands came from a non-British background. The amazing orator read out our eulogies in Latin.
I must also pay tribute to my husband Chris Frith. Chris has been unfailingly supportive and it was he who educated me in English language and culture. More relevant in this context, he has constantly tutored me in psychology and in the necessary ancillary disciplines.
I often talk about how culture changes the brain, but I should really say that it is significant others who change the brain. In my case the significant other did so with such a delicacy and sensitivity that I never cease to be grateful, and never cease to wonder at my good fortune.
Our photograph (credit: Dr Harry Baker) shows Uta and Chris Frith at her honorary degree ceremony in Cambridge.
Professor Frith is a keen user of Twitter and is well worth following there.