Principal's Blog: Weeks Seven and Eight

A group of our students is soon visiting Calais to assist refugees and holding a raffle to raise funds. Breakfast with the Principal is one of the prizes (which I assume is the scary prize no one wants to win!). The group is called Collect4Calais and consists of 20 Brasenose students who organised a four week university wide fundraising and awareness campaign. They held a dinner to raise money on the last Friday of term.

The Fellowship and students:
Our Fellows continue to win plaudits and awards; as well as being a terrific Tutor for Graduates, Prof Elspeth Garman has won two awards in quick succession:  the Mildred Dresselhaus Guest Professorship award and the 2016 Fankuchen Award from the American Crystallographic Association.

We also said au revoir at the end of term to Thomas Johansen, a Fellow in Philosophy who is taking up a chair in Oslo.

We recently elected Dr Ed Bispham to be a University Proctor, a role he will carry out with distinction.

At the end of term, we held a ceremony in chapel to welcome our new Honorary Fellows, Dr Gerald Smith and Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah. Both are exceptional businessmen and have been generous to the College. They were piped out of chapel and into Hall by Ed Lavender playing bagpipes in a very professional way.

We have some incredibly talented students. Rachel Maxey gave a superb concerto performance with the Oxford University Philharmonia at the Sheldonian. She was 21 on the evening of the concert and the orchestra played “happy birthday” after the ovation, with the audience joining in.

The Oxford Martin School was the setting for a wonderful Principal’s Conversation with Michael Woodford former President and CEO of Olympus who blew the whistle on his own company. His account was worrying but told in a most amusing way. It was distressing to hear how he was treated by the massive Japanese company which he had served for decades when he exposed accounting irregularities. It was also a terrific account of Japanese society and business culture. His book about these events, Exposure, is a must read and may be turned into a feature film.

We also inaugurated the new initiative ‘Breakfasts with Brasenose’, the first of this series was held in London with an audience packed by our alumni. Peter Sinclair, our Former Fellow in Economics gave a virtuoso performance on his predictions for the future for the British and global economy.

On the 29 February we had a brilliant talk put on by our Library Team called “Exploring Brasenose” and led by Ollie Freeman and Dr Elizabeth Solopova. They projected some of the more extraordinary volumes onto the screen and discussed them to a fascinated audience. Our regular series of blurbs, where graduates discuss their research, continues. This time we heard Sam Forbes, outgoing graduate student President, on Child Word Learning and Karl Smith Byrne on Big Data in Prostrate Cancer Research.

I went to a Langley Grammar School near Slough to speak to about 45 sixth formers and staff about applying for Oxford in general and law in particular. They were a terrifically engaged group.

Suzanne and I are often invited to attend dinners at other colleges. One which stands out is the evening we attended at St Anne's College, where the attendees were addressed by Helen King, Deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner in charge of Community policing. She was a St Anne’s alumna and anyone less like the stereotype of the police it would be hard to imagine. She was incredibly thoughtful and forward looking about the role of the police in modern society.

The work in the Old Deer Park continues with the discovery of an ancient well being the most unexpected aspect. Phase two of the Library project is nearing completion and we are preparing for Phase three. It is anticipated that works will last from this summer through to May 2017.

My reader(s) will no doubt be thrilled to hear that I have been invited to appear in a play, in fact to play myself. During the 2016 Arts Week students are putting on “The Honourable Historie of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay” which was set in “Brazen-nose” College. I imagine (that is all it is - imagination) that there will now be a rush for tickets so do book early to avoid/gain disappointment. It is not a famous work but will now no doubt become famous or more probably infamous.

Trinity term:
We have a busy Trinity Term (what we call our summer term) ahead: we will hold a debate on EU Membership with College speakers and MPs participating on 4 May. We will also welcome visitors including Simon Schama on 12 May, Tom Stoppard on 18 May and Jancis Robinson on 24 May. I wish you all a very good holiday. We will be visiting Washington DC and New York as part of the Oxford University Biennial visit.

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