Principal's Blog: Early February 2019

blogBowerscrop1Holocaust Memorial Day; 27 January:
On Holocaust Memorial Day, Rabbi Michael Rosenfeld-Schueler, Jewish Chaplain to Oxford University, addressed us in the well-attended chapel. He spoke movingly about the liberation of Auschwitz and how we must never forget Nazi oppression; we should instead redouble our tolerance of all.

Earlier that day, we went to listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury speak in the University about reimagining the modern world. It was great that one of our students, our Bible Clerk Tim Jenkins, was chosen to ask a question (which slightly took the Archbishop off guard) which was, “What is the point of religion?” The Archbishop had an eloquent and convincing answer.

Entrepreneurship talk; 29 January:
On 29 January, the HCR hosted Gordon Orr (Engineering Sciences, 1979) for a careers talk. Gordon is a Senior Advisor to McKinsey and a Board Member of Lenovo and Swire Pacific.  In addition, he works with the CEOs of a number of China’s globalizing companies; is an advisor to Oxford University and Harvard Business School in Asia; and is a Board Member of the China Britain Business Council. He took time out from his very busy schedule to be in conversation with our HCR President. Gordon shared his memories at Brasenose, including being a cox for the Brasenose rowing team and how the College has changed over the years. The talk was attended by both JCR and HCR members, who particularly enjoyed listening to his experiences as a consultant, lately as an advisor to entrepreneurs, and the key lessons on leadership which he has gained over the years. The conversation was followed by a lively Q&A session by the audience on the emerging trends among global businesses. Gordon was also extended an invitation to come for a session at the Boat Club, one he gladly accepted.

Patricia Hewitt; 29 January:
On the same night as Gordon Orr’s talk, Patricia Hewitt (former Trade and Health Secretary of State) addressed our PPE Society about her time in Government. She compared the very different styles of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and stressed the difference in women’s representation in Parliament from when she first started in campaigning in the early 70s when there were only a handful (when there were only eight female MPs) to now when 208 were elected in 2017.

BNC’s Women’s 1974 Network; 29 January:
The evening of 29 January saw the launch of Brasenose’s Women’s 1974 Network at the Weiss Gallery in St James’s, London – thank you to Florence Evans (English, 1998), Curator at the Gallery, who generously offered us the beautiful space. Following the success of the celebrations to mark 40 years since women undergraduates at Brasenose in 2014, and the Brasenose women's lunch in 2017, we were pleased to launch the new group in order to share ideas, hear inspiring speakers and meet friends new and old. The evening was a resounding success and saw a packed room full of interesting, inspiring discussion and ideas. There was a short introduction from the network’s founders, newspaper editor and journalist Jane Johnson (English, 1987) and Amanda Holland (PPE, 1988), about the launch of the group and plans for its future. Thanks must also go to Geraldine Brodie (English, 1976), whose generosity brought the launch to life. We look forward to the next event soon.

Platnauer Concert; 1 February:
Each Platnauer Concert is special in its own way but this term’s was exceptional and very unusual in showcasing Elizabethan Music under the title “A Musicall Dreame”. We were exceptionally lucky to hear English soprano Alison Hill, with Yair Avidor playing lute and theorbo, and Jennifer Bennett the violin. The theorbo was a form of lute about eight feet high. An alumna present wrote to me afterwards that “The music was perfect for the intimacy of the chapel.  I loved Alison Ponsford-Hill's sweet, angelic voice and the lute and violin players were also full of character”. I strongly agree. I was particularly taken by the divisions on “John come kiss me now”! One of the musicians had to be picked up by a car because of the atrocious weather on the day with its impact on public transport.   

Somerset dinner; 4 February:
This annual dinner is a celebration of our Fellowship, bringing together current Fellows with Emeriti and Honorary Fellows in a very convivial atmosphere only interrupted by some musings from the Principal who spoke about the thrice married Lady Somerset and her bequest for scholars at Brasenose which required them to speak in Latin on pain of a two penny fine for every act of disobedience.

Weddings in chapel:
We are delighted that Brasenose occasionally provides a marriage service along with its other facilities. This year we will celebrate in chapel the weddings of William Bunce (Classics with Oriental Studies) and Megan Burnside. William is still here in his final year, whilst Megan is now on a year’s internship at St Albans Cathedral. She was Bible Clerk in 2015-16; William was Bible Clerk 2016-17. In the other wedding coupling this year, Philippa Collins, who read for the MPhil Law from 2015 and DPhil Law 2016 and is now lecturer in Law at Exeter University, will marry Joshua Denton, MSc in Education 2016 and now teaching in a primary school in Exeter. Both couples met at Brasenose. Both weddings will take place in our wonderful chapel.

I was delighted to see Henry Zeffman talking about the following day’s newspapers on Newsnight on 30 January.

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