NOTRE DAME, Ind. Notre Dame released the following Wednesday afternoon:
Christopher Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), chancellor of the University of Oxford and chair of the BBC Trust, will be the principal speaker and receive an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame’s 169th Commencement Ceremony on May 18.
“One of Britain’s and the world’s preeminent Catholics, Lord Patten was called upon by his government to help resolve some of the most daunting issues on the world stage, including his masterful governance of Hong Kong’s transition from British to Chinese rule and his groundbreaking reforms of policing in Northern Ireland,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president.
“Many thought impossible the preservation of Hong Kong’s prosperity in the face of communism, just as others deemed unattainable police reform in a society so long divided by sectarian prejudice and violence. Lord Patten proved the doubters wrong.”
Patten, who was bestowed the title of baron in 2005, was elected chancellor of Oxford in 2003. He previously served as chancellor of Newcastle University.
A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied history, Patten was approved by Queen Elizabeth in 2011 as chair of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corp.
Patten began his career in the research department of the Conservative Party, first as a desk officer and then as director. He was elected as a Member of Parliament for Bath in 1979, serving until 1992, including service as minister for overseas development in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and in the Cabinet as secretary of state for the environment.
In 1992, he was named the 28th and last governor of Hong Kong, serving until its handover to the People’s Republic of China on June 30, 1997. In 1998-99 he chaired the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, set up under the Good Friday Peace Agreement, and from 1999 to 2004 he was one of the United Kingdom’s two members to the European Commission.
In 2010, Patten was appointed by the prime minister to oversee and manage the preparations for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom, the country’s first papal visit in nearly 20 years. He has been recognized as one of Britain’s most influential Catholics.
Patten is the author of six books, including “What Next? Surviving the Twenty-first Century,” “Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths about World Affairs” and “East and West,” which examines Asia and its relations with the rest of the world.
Patten and his wife, Lavender Thornton, have three daughters.
The 2014 University Commencement Ceremony will take place in Notre Dame Stadium beginning at 9 a.m.