Welcome to 2017!
It was lovely to have time with friends and family over the holiday period. Lots of long walks to counter-act the quantities of excellent food and the chance to really catch up with people we don’t see so often during the rest of the year. And now we are back and ready for Hilary term.
Rosie enjoyed the chance to explore outside Oxford and is happy to appear in the first of what is likely to be a regular series: ‘Rosie visits ….’. Here she is at Minster Lovell Hall on rather a grey day, and after a separate walk down to North Leigh Roman Villa. Both sites are managed by English Heritage and well worth a visit – although getting there would not be easy without transport.
And we have been admiring the University Church:
We were pleased to welcome friends and neighbours for an informal gathering at Wellington Square in the first week of the New Year – something we hope to be doing fairly regularly. We have now realised that whilst the dumb waiter might be incredibly ugly – and believe me, it is - it is also very useful.
The great sadness of the past few weeks has been the loss of Jan-Georg Deutsch. I didn’t know Georg, who was on sabbatical when I arrived last term, but the response from the whole College community, and from his students and colleagues in the History Faculty, has been overwhelming. The church of St Margaret of Antioch at Binsey was full almost to overflowing for his funeral, with at least half of those gathered standing in the aisle and the chancel. His family spoke movingly of their life with Georg and there were smiles and nods of recognition when his stubbornness, his wish for privacy and his commitment to his students, his subject and to social justice were mentioned.
We will be holding a memorial event for Georg in College in March/April and will announce the date soon. In the meantime, a condolence book will remain in the Common Room.
The work on the ground floor rooms of the West Quad continues, and by the time of the next blog the main new library space should be open for use as a study area. The books will move in later and, for now, the current library will continue as it is. The timetable for completion is challenging but deliverable and I continue to be very grateful to all those who are helping us move on following the loss of our original main contractor.
I am gearing up for my first overseas trip, which will also be the last for our Development Director, Sue Berrington, who leaves us in mid-February. We will be visiting San Francisco, Houston and New York in a 5-day trip – so forgive me if I’m looking a little disoriented on return! In March I’ll be heading to Singapore. I’m really looking forward to meeting alumni and supporters from across the world – if you know people who might be interested in joining us, please do let them know about the visits: details are on the website.
This term we have introduced a booking system for suppers – this should help the kitchen plan for firm numbers and give those who have quite a way to travel confidence that there will always be a meal for them when they arrive. Do let us know how you feel about this – we will be monitoring the impact very closely. Whilst the booking system for hall and special dinners remains unchanged, I am conscious that these events book up really quickly and we will be thinking about how to make it easier for those who aren’t necessarily sitting at a computer when booking opens to have a chance of coming along. These are things which featured heavily in my conversations with students last term and on which we are trying to respond flexibly.
I have really benefitted from a 2-day training course on ‘mental health first aid’ run by a local charity, Restore, which is based in Cowley. A number of staff and student representatives have already had this training and it helps us all feel more confident in engaging with individuals who might be experiencing mental ill health. This is entirely consistent with the Prime Minister’s recent speech, but I’m delighted to report that the College had identified the need and sourced the training some time ago!