Principal's Blog: Spring Vacation

blogBowersOur Principal, John Bowers, shares more thoughts on the first few weeks of his time at the College.

We are delighted that Jonathon Katz (who teaches Classics for us) has become Public Orator of the University against stiff opposition. I have to confess to not being quite sure what the Public Orator actually does except that what he does is in Latin (I am sure my readers will enlighten me). This contest made the election for a new Conservative Party leader look like child’s play and also quite insignificant.

I was also delighted to see that the following have been nominated for an OUSU special recognition award: Joe Organ our Schools Officer, Ian Carroll a PPE Tutor & Susan Wollenberg our Music Tutor.

Alumni - recent:
It is terrific to see that Sophie Ablett is playing in The Railway Children at Kings Cross. She graduated last year in French & Classics.

Alumni - not so recent - Gaudy for matriculation years 1956- 1959:
I spoke at my first Gaudy. I did a “state of the nation” address at 5.30pm and took questions and then made a welcome to the gaudy itself. James Flecker has produced an extraordinary book about class of ’58, of which he was one, with details of nearly everyone in the year with photos. Alumni had come from all over the world to the event and were treated to a great speech by James Elliott, who came from Australia.

The gaudy was also memorable because one of the greatest College men of recent years, Prof Graham Richards, was in this cohort of alumni and was a dinner guest. He has served the College in so many different capacities over the years and still looks like he has some years to go to get his free bus pass. His life is chronicled in his autobiography Forty Years in Oxford.

At the gaudy, the most extraordinary song was made up about the long forgotten fact that I was a Lincoln alumnus (at least I had forgotten but others will not let me forget). It is sung to the tune of the Lincolnshire Poacher and is already a classic: You will probably want to sing it only in the privacy of your own bath.

Welcome to our Principal who chooses to live here,

Thank goodness he's converted from that college over there,

May Brasenose bring him wisdom which we're prepared to share.

     Oh tis my delight on a Gaudy night

     To be dining here

     Oh tis my delight on a Gaudy night

     To be dining here.


Re-formed drunken sots are we who note your grand career,

But c'm off it John come down to earth and live like Brasenose men,

So to co-existence let us drink with mugs of tea and beer.

    Oh tis my delight on a Gaudy night

    To be dining here

    Oh tis my delight on a Gaudy night

    To be dining here.

The other Richards, Bernard (later an English Fellow at the College) told me a terrific story of the time. The chef wanted to get home early on Saturday evening, so laid on an unpopular meal: jugged hare. There was a few aficionados who stayed though, and in fact it was the best jugged hare anyone ever had. The food secretary for the JCR was called J. Hare.

Ninth week:
People think that everyone goes away as soon as Eighth Week is out of the way, This is wholly untrue. Once the students depart, we have a busy programme of maintenance works, as we minimise disruption during term time, and we also welcome a number of conferences and events to raise funds to support our teaching and research.

We offer generous vacation residence grants and a number of students working towards Final Exams next Term stay up for much of the Easter period, residing in our excellent Frewin Annexe which is located just a few minutes’ walk from the main site (close enough to keep enjoying the College).

In week 9 College is full of staff. During that week I chaired part of a fascinating international conference on indirect discrimination held at Wadham College and attended my first meeting of the Hulme Trust in Manchester which is connected with the College. I also had the pleasure to attend a lecture by one of our Senior Kurti Fellows, Prof Chris Kennard, on the way the brain arranges vision. It was part of Brain Awareness Week at the Ashmolean Museum. Prof Kennard was introduced by Dr Chrystalina Antionides who is also at Brasenose.

In week 10 I went to Harrogate to speak at the Oxbridge event for North Yorkshire. Two hundred people packed into St Aidan’s School to hear Joe Organ our Outreach Officer and Tom Norwood from our sister college Gonville and Caiuis. Attendees had travelled from far and wide and asked searching questions about the admissions process which may seem daunting from the outside. Beth Jenkinson, the student President and Victoria Cox the Access rep were also on hand to provide practical advice. Joe’s key messages were that Oxford was a friendly place open to all, admissions were based purely on academic merit and potential and that the students should believe in themselves.

I hope everyone has a great Easter break.

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter for news from students and tutors, Schools Liaison and other interesting things