Principal's Blog: Late March 2019

blogBowerscrop1Malcolm Turnbull visit:
We were very honoured to have Malcolm Turnbull stay in a College Guest Room between 7 and 9 March. We bestowed an Honorary Fellowship upon him at the Betty Morley Dinner on 9 March. It was great also to welcome also Lucy Turnbull. She is Chair of the Greater Sydney Commission.

Malcolm addressed a lunch for students and Fellows as well as a well-attended Principal’s Conversation at the Martin School on 7 March. He covered a wide range of topics including his time at Brasenose (and his regret at not being invited to some of the more swinging parties as he was considered too bookish). Before the College, he had attended Sydney Grammar School which has a long connection with Brasenose, sharing the same colour tie and the School even has a replica of the Brazen Nose still displayed.

He gained a BCL at the College as a Rhodes Scholar (1978-80) but was already working for the Sunday Times in London. He then practiced as a lawyer in Sydney (as Turnbull McWilliams) before going into business and the politics as MP for Wentworth between 2004 and 2018. As a young lawyer he won the famous Spycatcher victory over the UK Government in 1986 which led to the phrase with which we are still familiar “economical with the truth” which was the euphemism he wrang out of Sir Robert Armstrong then the UK Cabinet Secretary in a highly effective cross examination.

He spoke about the various “spills” of Australian leaders (that is the defenestration of party leaders) which led to short termism in government. He said that Australia had been successful in the integration of migrants into Australian society.

Duncan Greenland:
We also welcomed Duncan Greenland as an Honorary Fellow. Duncan studied PPE at Brasenose between 1966 and 1969. He made our library renovation and extension possible. Duncan chose to name our College library after his late brother, Jeremy, who also studied at Brasenose both as an undergraduate and a graduate student. The Greenland Library is the new jewel in the crown of our estate and we are delighted that Duncan has been elected an Honorary Fellow. We look forward to seeing him around College often.

Coverage of our sports dinner:
Readers may have seen coverage of our speaker at our Annual Sports Dinner in certain national newspapers. I was present and some of what he said was inappropriate. A guest speaker nowadays should not read out a bawdy poem. It was not possible to intervene, although I did not witness any walk out by students as reported in the press.

Prejudice and disrespect have no place in an open community such as ours. We should be respectful to those of all genders, all races and ethnicities, all sexual orientations, all religions (and no religion) and the disabled. Any breach of our basic standards demeans and should shame us all. Anyone using disrespectful words should anticipate a serious reaction. This has nothing whatever to do with freedom of speech which we are also determined to uphold. The College has a disciplinary code and the College will investigate thoroughly breaches of our basic standards.

Rules alone, however, are not sufficient to maintain an open and tolerant community. Everyone at Brasenose has a personal responsibility and a role to play.

All Innovate:
I attended the first All Innovate Awards at the Oxford Foundry on 28 February.. A star panel conducted a Dragons’ Den style quizzing of ten entrepreneurial ideas. The College had two teams of contestants (who had got through the heats). The first,, consisted of Roman Rothaermel and Tom Kent (both DPhil students). This aimed to create a digital news platform of an optimal newspaper from any paid or unpaid newspaper across the world and the other entrant was 3DPrimeda social enterprise which aims to provide a number of affordable and recyclable medical devices to both healthcare providers and patients to ensure equal access to treatment for all patients in developing countries. This project is led to Inna Thalmann, Felix Jackson, Sandeep Unwith, Sichen Liu and Miko Grelewicz, all DPhil students except the latter who is doing a Masters. Although these teams did not win we are very proud of them as their projects were well received by the Judges.

The Oxford Foundry and Brasenose College are both very grateful for the generosity and support of Mohamed Amersi (EMBA 2014) and the Amersi Foundation. .We held a wonderful lunch with Mohammed Amersi on 6 March which brought together representatives of Durham University (including their Vice Chancellor, Stuart Corbridge) and representatives of the Saïd Business School, the Oxford Internet Institute and the Blavatnik School of Government. Durham is considering a similar scheme to the Oxford Foundry.

Ale Verses:
Shrove Tuesday as usual was the date of our boisterous Ale Verses where groups of students compete for best song. The winner this year was a feisty song about the problems older students have with noisy freshers who did not know the rules. It was to the tune of Pack Up by Eliza Doolittle (with which I am ashamed to say I was not familiar!). The refrain was

“So shut up you freshers
Withy your late night noise
Because some of us are trying to sleep
You don’t care what the porters might say”.

As usual it was a very special event in our calendar with the usual terrific ingenuity on show. I warmly congratulate the winners who were Katie Sayer, Amy Small, Natalie Carter and Hatty Wigginton (all 3rd years). 

Torpids success:
I am delighted to say we got Blades for men’s boat at Torpids this year and the women’s boat did well too.

Music at Brasenose:
The termly feast of music (Music at Brasenose) features the eclectic inspirations and talents of undergraduates and graduates. Solo singers presented music by Gluck, Mozart, Purcell and Peter Warlock, with one spirited solo version of ‘My Way’. There was chamber music too, Mozart performed on the violin by Alfie Bullus followed by a particularly emotive performance of the first movement of Brahms’s Cello Sonata in E minor by Chris Summers. This was contrasted by the spirited delights of ‘Evaline’ performed by barbershop quartet, a sublime Scandinavian folk guitar solo by Conor Gallagher, and finally the somewhat ridiculous G&S duet ‘We're Called Gondolieri’, whose performance utilised the theatrical essentials: boaters and the cheesiest of smiles.

Prof Roger Ainsworth:
We were all very sorry to hear of the death of Prof Roger Ainsworth, President of St Catherine’s College after a short illness. He was a wonderful, warm, kindly man who was a great source of strength and support to me when I first arrived. He will be sorely missed both by the College, his friends in Conference of Colleges and the wider community. Our thoughts are with his family. The funeral held at the University Church nearby was so large that we provided an overflow facility in our chapel.

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