Principal's Blog: 25th May-6th June

2015 10 22 13.04.13 2Our Principal, John Bowers, shares more thoughts on his time at the College.

We have held an excellent series of concerts this term. On 27 May Fleur Snow our Heberden Organ Scholar played masterpieces for piano and organ by Bach, Buxtehude, Beethoven and Gershwin. No one who was present will easily forget her rendition of the latter’s Rhapsody in Blue. Next year she is abroad for a year.

We are also saying adieu to Prof Susan Wollenberg. On 3 June we had a Farewell Concert for Susan. She was completing her 29th year at Brasenose and an astonishing 44 years at Lady Margaret Hall and going into well earned retirement. To demonstrate the closeness of the Colleges (also symbolised by my wife and I!) Alan Rusbridger and Susan played a wonderful duet in the ante chapel (Schubert’’s Variations on an Original Theme) and there were brilliant pieces also performed by Christian Wilson, William James, Ferdinand Rauch, Jonathan Katz, and Sarah Hughes. We will miss Susan’s extraordinary musical flair, her dedication to duty and her infectious enthusiasm.

Jancis Robinson and Nick Lander, respectively Financial Times Wine and Restaurant correspondents, did a brilliant Principal’s Conversation for us. My knowledge of fine wines is rather limited so that I happily contracted out that part of the questioning to our excellent Cellararius Prof Richard Cooper; I did however weigh in (pun intended) on restaurants with Nick.

Listening to black students:
I took part in a breakfast meeting held at Somerville College on 1 June. Along with the Principals of LMH and Somerville, I listened to the experiences of black and ethnic minority graduate students in our respective Colleges. We only each spoke briefly at the end of the breakfast. It would not be appropriate to give details of what was said by the participants but some of their experiences of Oxford was disturbing and needs to be addressed within the University.

One of the privileges of my job is that I can go to lectures from time to time when I have downtime from the normal round of meetings, committees, alumni greeting and Conference of College events. Demonstrating my catholic tendencies, on one day in May I managed to hear our esteemed former Principal Alan Bowman speaking on the Jews of Alexandria, Kieran Bradley the former Chief Judge of the EU Court Civil Service Tribunal and Prof Glen Loury on “When Black Lives Matter”.

Talking of lectures, over Bank Holiday weekend, Suzanne and I visited Hay Literary Festival; in glorious weather we saw Philippe Sands, Tom Bower, Janine do Giovanni the war correspondent amongst others.

Brasenose holds the second most consecutive headships in Torpids (a 9-year unbeaten streak) behind Oriel College who went an astonishing 28 years undefeated. In the Summer Eights Brasenose held headship in the following years: 1815, 1816, 1821, 1822, 1827, 1839, 1840, 1845, 1846, 1852–54, 1865–67, 1876, 1888–91, 1928-31.

This was not our finest year however but it was great to watch and all participating enjoyed themselves.

We have just elected John Simpson the BBC Diplomatic Correspondent as a member of the Brasenose community. He came in for dinner and was a charming guest.

We had a superb Brasenose Society event in London with about a hundred alums. There were three attendees from Australia and one from Greece.

I interviewed for the post of Associate Profesorship in Education and two very heartening things came out:

  1. One of the candidates had read my blog! (so there is someone out there)
  2. The candidates were shown round the College and commented how proud the students were of their own community.

Both were good to hear.

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