The late break between Hilary and Trinity means a series of 4-day weeks in quick succession – for those who don’t have exams or deadlines coming up. We managed a short break in Ghent and a few days in Whitstable, on the Kent coast, before getting back into the rhythm of term.
Despite the weather taking a chilly turn, there is no doubt that we are fully into spring. The wisteria and ceanothus are in flower in the West Quad and almost all the trees are in leaf: the new walnut is looking very healthy, and the mulberry is starting to open.
I’m particularly pleased to see the beautiful new leaves on the small tree in the very corner of the front Quad. It is a koelreuteria paniculata which was grown by our late Fellow, Jan-Georg Deutsch and given to the College by his widow, Heike Schmidt.
Jan-Georg Deutsch Memorial
On Saturday, 29 April, we held a Memorial for Jan-Georg in Pusey Chapel, and subsequently in the new West Quad building. Music was provided under the direction of Maks Adach: extracts from Bach’s St John Passion and two beautiful instrumental pieces for violin, played by Shun Hioki. Tributes were given by Professors Diarmaid McCulloch, John Darwin, Emilie Savage-Smith and Martin Conway, and by Rev’d Dr Festo Mkenda, Director of the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, whose DPhil had been supervised by Jan-Georg. Each speaker added a slightly different perspective, to help build a picture of a man who cared deeply about his subject, his students, his Faculty and his College, who was passionate – and so could be challenging – and had a mischievous sense of humour. I hope he would have enjoyed seeing everyone mixing and talking for a long while afterwards.
We flew the flag at half-mast for Georg:
We have established a Fund in Jan-Georg’s memory to provide financial support to students, to which donations are already being received : https://www.campaign.ox.ac.uk/st-cross-college.
West Quad Building
The building is now fully open and beginning to be used by members of College and others. We are planning an ‘open day’ on the afternoon of Friday, 5 May, for students and Fellows to explore the public rooms , including the Lecture Theatre, and see what there is on offer.
There remains some work to do to complete the project, but we have decided to call a halt to further intrusive work within the Quad for the rest of Trinity term so that our lovely new space can be fully enjoyed, by residents and non-residents alike, during what we hope will be a glorious English summer. Completion works will then take place over the summer break.
We now feel able to start planning the formal opening of the building, which is likely to be in Michaelmas term.
We have hung the Donor Board to thank our major, named, supporters. Many others have given to the College’s appeal for the new building, but wished to remain anonymous.
Art in College
It has been wonderful to meet people who want to support our efforts to diversify the College’s art collection and we hope to receive a number of pieces as donations or on loan in the near future. We are also, of course, soon to receive the work commissioned from Tim Shaw for the West Quad building, which will occupy a wall of the large seminar room, where we will in future hold our Governing Body meetings.
We are also grateful that the Aidan Meller Gallery has generously offered a £250 prize and engraved trophy for a new Student Art Prize. The prize will be awarded for work in any medium on the subject of Landscapes of the Mind. Details here: http://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/AMartprize
On Wednesday, 3 May, Dr Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief Scientist, gave this year’s St Cross Lorna Casselton Memorial Lecture entitled ‘The International Search for Life Beyond Earth’. The lecture took place in the Maths Institute and was fully booked almost since booking opened! Dr Stofan gave a wonderful talk which discussed the factors which are thought most likely to combine to offer the prospect of life existing beyond earth – and then brought us down to earth by reminding us that ‘There is no Planet B’. It was a pleasure to continue the conversation at dinner later at St Cross with a small group which included two former Heads of House from Oxford and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
It is always a pleasure when College alumni return to visit us. Next week we will welcome back Chad Frischmann, whom I met in San Francisco earlier this year, who will be giving a lecture on 10 May on A Pathway to Reversing Global Warming. Tickets can be booked here: http://bit.ly/2p3PD3A. Other College lectures can be found on the website.
We are delighted to welcome the 2017 CRISP scholars from India and Sri Lanka to College. They will be with us over the summer. And on Thursday 4 May the Bursar and I took full advantage of the new lecture theatre to explain the University and College system to 30 Indian civil servants who were in Britain as part of their senior management training.
Guests for Hall and Special Dinners this term include Dr Robert Bewley and his wife, Jill, who were with us last week. Robert (Bob) is Director of the EAMENA programme, a project which uses satellite imagery to rapidly record and make available information about archaeological sites and landscapes which are under threat in the Middle East and North Africa, and a newly elected Member of our Common Room. This Friday (5 May) Professor John Hills and Professor Anne Power will be our guests for dinner. John is Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Anne is a housing policy specialist, Professor of Social Policy at the LSE and Chair of the National Communities Resource Centre. I’m also delighted that Professor Denise Lievesley, Principal of Green Templeton College, and Professor Roland Rosner will be joining us for the Special Dinner on 2 June.
And, of course, we will continue to welcome St Cross talk speakers for a meal after their talks. As well as introducing St Cross to our guests, I hope that college members will also enjoy meeting and talking with such a range of external visitors.
PS: And ‘Thank you’ for all the birthday wishes – leaving no-one in any doubt exactly how old I am!