Three highly accomplished women formally become Honorary Fellows

Joan Bakewell and Dame Carol Black

Newnham College welcomed three women as Honorary Fellows in just one week after the trio were elected to acknowledge the exceptional contributions they have made in their fields.

Rabbi Julia Baroness Neuberger, DBE, M.A., (NC 1969), Marin Alsop, BMus, MMus, Hon DMus, and Baroness Joan Bakewell, DBE, BA (NC 1951) all separately visited Newnham College, the women’s college at the heart of Cambridge University, last week.

An Honorary Fellowship is a highly prestigious award which Newnham bestows upon eminent women who often have a connection with the College, and who have attained distinction in their area of expertise.

All three women – who have had very different careers – talked to students about their distinguished careers before they signed with Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, to formally become Honorary Fellows.

Neuberger, who was Britain’s second female rabbi and the first to have her own synagogue, is now a Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue.

She regularly appears on the Pause for Thought programme on BBC Radio 2 and is a published author. She read Oriental Studies at Newnham College (Associate 1983–96) and completed a Rabbinic Diploma at Leo Baeck College, London (Lecturer and Associate Fellow 1979–97).

She has chaired an NHS Trust, the Patients Association, the Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity and the Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway for Dying Patients, been Prime Minister’s Champion for Volunteering and a Civil Service Commissioner, and was Chief Executive of the King’s Fund 1997–2004. She was Chancellor of the University of Ulster 1994–2000 and Bloomberg Professor of Divinity at Harvard in 2006.

She was appointed DBE in 2004 and she was created a Life Peer in the same year. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity by the University of Cambridge in June 2015.

Alsop is one of the world’s most eminent conductors. Her career was launched in 1989 when she was a prize-winner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition.

In the same year she was the first woman to be awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center, where she was a pupil of the great composer, conductor and educator Leonard Bernstein. Alsop is an integral part of Bernstein’s 100th anniversary global celebrations in 2018.

She is now the principal conductor and music director of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, arranging its 2012 European tour and first-ever appearance at The Proms in August 2012 and again in August 2016. She steers the orchestra in its artistic and creative programming, recording ventures and its education and outreach activities.

In 2013 she became the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, which she did again in September 2015.

Bakewell, pictured, became nationally known as one of the strongest voices of her generation at the BBC during the 1960s. She has worked on Newsnight, was the lead journalist on the documentary series Heart of the Matter, has presented series on pornography and civil rights, and has long been regarded as a liberal intellectual contributor to national conversations.

She has been recognised by the awards of CBE (1999), DBE (2008), became a Baroness in 2011, has chaired the British Film Institute, and in 2008 was appointed by the Government to be a voice for older people.

She continues to be active as an author and a journalist, writing columns on the experience of old age, on the role of older women in the media and other topics of current interest. When asked what event altered the course of her life, she answered: “Gaining a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1951. I owe it everything.”

Full list of Honorary Fellows