Week 4, Hilary Term

It’s hard to believe that we are already in Week 4. Hilary is galloping by and I need to get back into the groove of blogging.

An enjoyable few days in Geneva before Christmas allowed me to experience the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and to meet up with Josep and Tina, two St Cross alumni based in Switzerland. It was good to be able to put them in touch with one another - we had such an enjoyable lunch that I completely forgot to take pictures!




We then caught up with family and friends before heading back to Oxford.



window view

Every new term brings a sense of excitement and new possibilities, but Hilary, which comes at the beginning of a New Year, does feel special. The snowdrops always help!


I’m particularly pleased that we have the main Library back in full use, with all the seats available once more. We are looking forward to installing new art, now that the remedial work inside the Library has been completed, and to cataloguing the many new books which have been acquired. Our Librarian, Sheila Allcock, is being joined on a temporary basis by Marjory Szurko, who will be cataloguing the James Currey collection for us.

Art has an even higher profile than usual in College this term as the new student Art rep – Sai Villafuerte – has arranged a great series of events ranging from a life drawing class through a panel discussion with outstanding speakers to the showing of a film by BAFTA award winning producer, Margy Kinmonth: details of bookable events are available on the website. This is setting a high bar for future reps!

Tim Shaw RA has borrowed back his picture – ‘Mother, the Air is Blue, the Air is Dangerous’ – to accompany the installation of the same name which will be exhibited at The Exchange in Penzance, in Cornwall until mid-May. Tim is lending us other work of his whilst it is away. And we have been delighted that Humphrey Ocean, who painted the portrait of Sir Mark Jones which is in the Hall, has visited us on more than one occasion recently.

The rowers returned to find Red Flag conditions on the river: the water very high and very fast flowing. I’m sure they were all devastated not to get on to the water on those very chilly mornings! But Torpids isn’t far away so tension is beginning to mount.


The showing of Blue Planet 2 in the lecture theatre was widely welcome in the weeks before Christmas – and as a result we are all even more aware of the impact of plastics on our marine environment. Do let us know if you have ideas for how College can reduce its plastic consumption.

Dinners have, as usual, been incredibly popular. I suspect we are the only college that has two Burns’ Night suppers to accommodate demand. Our Fellows Diarmaid MacCulloch and Bob McLatchie did the honours in addressing the haggis, with Sam Bruce and Jieun Baek proposing the toasts. We have expanded the numbers available for several dinners and added extra events where possible.


Our guests are always suitably impressed and have so far this term included Paul Flather, recently retired Secretary-General of the Europaeum and Professor Karen O’Brien, an alumna of the College and Head of Humanities at the University. James Deane, Director of Policy and Learning on BBC Media Action, will be joining us on Friday.

Informal buffet suppers for first year students have been very popular in College and David and I have continued to welcome groups of DPhil students to No 10. It is good to see the space being well used.

Special ethics seminars have continued to challenge us to think philosophically and the Global Thinkers of the International series has covered Tagore and Nehru.

Fellow Kevin Marsh brought AfOx’s insaka to the College on 2 February, and will be back next month. We heard great presentations from Professor Wale Adebanwi on civil society action to defend an area of Lagos, and from Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka on the relationship between community health and wildlife conservation in Uganda. Followed by questions and a social reception this was just the sort of event that speaks to the College’s ethos.

Victoria Cox led a fantastic 50:50 Challenge programme of fundraising last term, as a result of which we are confident that we will have a good number of new scholarships for Master’s students who start their courses in 2019-20. There will be a formal update in the next few weeks, but it is hugely encouraging to see the willingness of the College’s friends and supporters to get behind this new initiative. We are now recruiting a Development and Alumni Relations Officer to help build upon this work.

Our Fellow Richard Briant has been involved in the selection of the next tranche of CRISP Scholars from India and Sri Lanka. We are looking forward to them being with us from April to June. We are also recruiting an administrator to support this programme.

The College is taking part in a number of University recruitments at the moment, including the Professor of Epidemiology and the Barnett Professor of Social Policy as well as an Associate Professor in African History following Jan-Georg Deutsch’s untimely death. All of these posts carry an affiliation with the College and we look forward to welcoming a clutch of new Fellows in due course.

Lastly, we are greatly looking forward to hosting many events in this year’s Oxford Literary Festival, which will be taking place in the second half of March.  Details of all the events at the Festival, which happens each year throughout the University, can be found at http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/


I have just finished reading all the applications for the Institute of Historic Building Conversation’s Gus Astley Awards, which I’m judging this year – an award which will be presented in June at an event in Belfast. I am also looking forward to being part of the Faculty for the Oxford Cultural Leaders programme and to mentoring one of this year’s cohort of Clore Fellows.

It’s always fun to take visitors to the University Museum of Natural History and show them the glories of the building and the collections:


We will shortly be welcoming groups of visitors from Oxford Civic Society to College: they are interested in seeing how the College looks after the West Quad development.

And finally: February has seen a flurry of flags flying over the new building:

rainbow flag large

wspu flag large