Principal's Blog: 30th November 2023


JB stock photo to use Sept 2021This term, 34 undergraduates were promoted to Exhibitions or Scholarships, raising the overall total to 83. Our students’ academic achievements in recent University examinations have been excellent and in particular I congratulate Gus Smith (PPE, 2019) on his election to a Prize Fellowship at All Souls.

We also congratulate Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (or David as we call him) on his return to the Cabinet as Foreign Secretary. He was due to visit the College in January to speak to PPE students but this has inevitably been cancelled. His return was in effect announced by another Brasenose alum Henry Zeffman a BBC Political Correspondent who was doing a piece to camera outside Number 10 when he noticed David striding down Downing Street and said that he thought he might be hallucinating as he saw him!

The Frewin new building is performing well, we have had no major snagging issues, and the 30 students seem very happy to be residents in our newest accommodation block.

Unusually we had three significant water leaks this term on the main College site, as we experienced some periods of extreme rain perhaps due to the effects of climate change. We thank the workshop team and housekeeping for dealing with them so quickly so as to minimize disruption.


I attended part of the excellent Bernard Richards English event on 18 November which brought together many distinguished alumni whom Bernard had taught over the years. Eight of them spoke at the event which all enjoyed.

Jane Johnson (1987) and Amanda Holland (1988) organised a Women’s networking event (open to all alumni) at the Green Man pub in Fitzrovia in London on 22 November. The upstairs room at the pub was packed with alumni of all ages.

Melanie Gerlis was in conversation with Jo Baring (1996) our Frankland Visitor on 24 November. Melanie is the art-market columnist of the FT and writes for many other outlets too. She described the huge economic impact that market has and the domination of it these days by collectors from mainland China. She said that it was one of the most manipulated markets in the world. It was a fascinating conversation.

An inspiring event brought together most of our female science Fellows at a Principal’s Conversation chaired by Anne Edwards. They were Dr Anne Edwards, Professor Jayne Birkby, Professor Cathy Creswell, Dr Chloe Fisher, Professor Elspeth Garman, Dr Ewa Gogola, Dr Katrina Lythgoe, Professor Perla Maiolino, Dr Varsha Mathur and Professor Dimitra Rigopoulou. They represented all parts of the scientific firmament and most said that they were glad of their careers and would not change a thing. They did however talk about most of their fields being male dominated, with men at the top of their departments, psychology being an exception. Several also spoke about the challenges posed by combining family life and a scientific career.

The annual carol service was held on 26 November with a brass band. The chapel was so thronged that ten chairs had to be placed in the antechapel. Everyone was in good voice. It was a good opportunity to thank Polina Sosnina our new Director of Music who has really stamped her mark on College music in the short time that she has been with us.

For Interfaith week we were joined by Revd Canon Professor  David Thomas FBA (1968)an alumnus who spoke about the three Abrahamic Faiths.

I recognise that many members of our College community work throughout the Christmas period. May I wish you all a happy time whatever holiday you celebrate and a Happy New Year. I also thank you all for your work in supporting Brasenose.

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