Principal's Blog: 6th November 2023

JB stock photo to use Sept 2021The new term has started well. Freshers week saw Herculean efforts by the JCR committee to welcome the new arrivals and make them feel at home from Day One. I (together with other College Officers) spoke to the Freshers in Hall during the packed Freshers week. I usually share the same messages each year; put your work first, participate in as much as you can, share your problems if you have any, don’t be afraid to ask. I should say I am still asking even though I joined in 2015.

Just before term started, we said a very fond farewell to Matt Hill as outgoing Domestic Bursar at a tea held in Hall on 27 September. He gave out the fun fact that each year the College provides some 40,300 student meals and puts on 512 events. He was clearly sad to be leaving us, but is moving to become the Bursar at Hymers School in Hull and we wish him well. He has a great legacy especially physically in the Frewin new buildings and also his excellent work during the pandemic when he was known by all as “Mr Covid” in the nicest way.

We welcomed also several new staff members in particular as Governing Body Fellows Dejan Draschkow and Katerina Tertytchnaya and as members of staff Polina Sosnina the new Director of Music, Kris Sadler our Interim Domestic Bursar and Nick White as Estates Manager. All have settled in well.

It was great to see the new building at Frewin opened. We celebrated this at a dinner held on 20 September. This brought together the wide range of people who worked on the project. I want to thank them all for a job well done. We now can house 200 students at Frewin, so can house all the Undergraduates from all years who want to live in College accommodation – which is nearly all of them!

Principal’s Conversation

On 12 October we welcomed Sir Dave Ramsden, one of the Deputy Governors of the Bank of England, to speak. He is responsible for oversight of Markets, Banking Payments, and Innovation and Resolution directorates. I was being very cheeky when I asked him what he did all day! He gave a broad conspectus of the current economic situation and reminisced about his time at the College. It was indeed about 30 years to the day since he matriculated. He told of his historic work on whether Britain should join the Euro.

This was a joint meeting with our very active PPE Society and the room was packed.

The first event for the PPE Society itself (which I gatecrashed) was the return of Antonia Romeo who is the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, which employs some 90,000 people, which she reminded us is one and a half times the establishment of M&S. Its budget is about the same as that of Malta. She read PPE here and served in the same role at the Department for International Trade as well as the UK’s Consul General in New York. Antonia gave a fascinating account of the problems with prison overcrowding, emphasising the economics of the issue and drawing in the philosophy of Bentham and Locke too. She made an eloquent pitch for the benefits of public service, saying that you felt like you could make a real difference to people’s lives and the work was broad and challenging. It was a great evening.


Polina’s first Platnauer Concert on 27 October featured Hanna Hipp and Emma Abbate performing Folklore, an exploration of folk songs from different countries. There were songs in Italian and Polish and a stimulating repertoire.  

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