Principal's Blog: Late October 2018

blogBowerscrop1A trio of FRSs:
On 9 October we welcomed our three new Fellows of the Royal Society this year for dinner at College. We think this is the first time a single college has had so many alumni honoured in a single year in this way. One of the new FRSs flew in especially from the USA: Professor Rick Dixon (1969 Biochemistry) is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Associate Director of the BioDiscovery Institute at the University of North Texas, Denton, and Faculty Fellow of the Hagler Institute of Advanced Study, Eminent Scholar in Residence, Visiting Professor in the College of Science, and Timothy C Hall-Heep Distinguished Faculty Chair at Texas A and M University, College Station; he also serves as a Chief Scientist in the Beijing Advanced Innovation Centre for Tree Breeding by Molecular Design, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China.

Professor Polly Arnold (1990, Chemistry) is the Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and already a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and currently holds an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship. Polly's research is focussed on exploratory synthetic chemistry designed to push the boundaries of bonding and reactivity theories. This work has resulted in the discovery of new catalysts for chemical transformations, helping to elucidate the behaviour of nuclear waste. She was awarded the 2012 Rosalind Franklin award by the Royal Society. She is the sixth-youngest person to be made a Fellow.

Professor Graham Richards served as chair of the University Department of Chemistry from 1997 for 10 years. He was one of the first academics to be involved in the commercialisation of technologies. In particular, he co-founded Oxford Molecular Ltd, which was floated on the stock market. He was director of ISIS Innovation Ltd, the University’s technology transfer company. He is a Brasenose man through and through and I strongly recommend his book 40 Years in Oxford.

Visit by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States:
On 9 October we hosted the meeting, ‘Oxford and Latin America: Conversation with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Dr Luis Almagro’, organized by the Latin American Centre.  During the meeting, which took place at the Medieval Kitchen, Dr Almagro discussed with a diverse group of Oxford Fellows the work the University does on Latin America, on a wide range of topics, including security, democracy, human rights, culture, immigration and development, and international relations.  Oxford participants came from various disciplines across departments and divisions of the university, and also from various colleges.

Visit by the President of Bulgaria:
On 18 October we received a visit from the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev. Mr Radev, a former fighter pilot and Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force, had, before visiting Brasenose, spoken at the Oxford Union, memorably comparing Brexit to ejecting from a MiG, a tricky exercise which, depending on your exit trajectory, can be either life-saving or fatal. Led on foot to Brasenose by History and Politics undergraduate Charlie Coverman, and accompanied by a large retinue of Bulgarian officials, security and British police, Mr Radev visited the Hall (the Vice-Principal drew his attention specially to the Brazen Nose), the Chapel, where Charlie showed the President some of the graffiti from the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the choir stalls, and the wonderful new extension of the Greenland Library in the Smith reading room, studying the initials of former fellows on the flagstones. He then paused in the Del Favero Room in the Library, admiring the ceiling and asking what subjects were studied there, and walked up to the Archive and the Treasury in the Tower, where the College Archivists Georgina Edwards and Helen Sumping had expertly encapsulated the history and character of the College in a display of documents, images and books. The President asked the Vice-Principal how it was to work in an institution with such a long and rich history, and the V-P thought it was an extremely good question and a very hard one to answer. As he left and climbed into a limousine on Radcliffe Square, Mr Radev gave as a gift to the College two books on the history and culture of Bulgaria which will be added to the library's collection.

This year for the first time we as a College had a higher number of female than male Freshers for both undergraduate and graduates.

On 11 October I attended the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors which recognises donors to the Colleges and University with our inductees, Mohamed Amersi and Duncan Greenland, who have been benefactors of the refurbishment of Lecture Room XI (currently well under way) and the fabulous Greenland Library.

On 12 October our alumna Mallory Dwinal brought a group for breakfast from her Oxford Day Academy in East Palo Alto.

Although it meant that I could not get into my side door to the Lodgings, I was very proud that Killing Eve was being filmed in Brasenose Lane on 15 October. I could not work out the new storyline but it involves a bike outside a beautiful door (spoiler alert).

On 16 October we welcomed Professor Robert Evans to High Table to celebrate his Honorary Fellowship bestowed by Cambridge University. He was a Fellow from 1968 to 1997 and then moved to Oriel as Regius Professor of Modern History. He specialises in the post-medieval history of Central and Eastern Europe, especially concerning that of the Hapsburg lands from 1526 to 1918.

I thank the Vice-Principal for the descriptions of the two visits which unfortunately I could not attend.

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