Principal's Blog: 30th January 2024


JB stock photo to use Sept 2021

We have had a busy start to term and one full of prizes.

Professor Daniela Bortoletto, our Brasenose Senior Kurti Fellow, was awarded an OBE in the 2024 New Year Honours for her services to Particle Physics and to gender equality. We all congratulate Daniela on this recognition for her fantastic work in Oxford and CERN. We also offer congratulations to Prof Jayne Birkby on her award from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences, recognising her work in detecting water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet.

We also had five alumni barristers appointed to King’s Counsel (KC) status which could even be a record for one college in one year. They are

Daniel Bentham (History & Modern Languages, 1995)

Kester Lees (BCL, 2008)

Martin Reid (Jurisprudence, 1999)

Paul Toms (Jurisprudence, 1997, BCL, 2001)

Philip Woolfe (Jurisprudence, 2001)

Chris Ingram

We have been very fortunate to house part of the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art in our Amersi Foundation Room and on the Old Quad. We have recently rehung the work in the former with the aid of our students and the wonderful Curator of the Collection, our alumna and past Frankland Visitor, Jo Baring. We met Chris Ingram for the first time at a lunch we organised on 24 January and thanked him for his generosity.

Holocaust Memorial Day

There was not an unfilled seat in chapel for the Holocaust Memorial Day Remembrance Event on 28 January. We were lucky to have Dame Margaret Hodge MP address us. She spoke movingly of her grandfather’s experiences as an enemy alien when he arrived in the UK from Austria in the late 1930s.  Her parents fled to Egypt (where Margaret was born in 1944) from Germany, and then to the UK in 1948, as a consequence of the Arab-Israeli War, although the UK was the fourth country to which they had applied. She emphasised how secular her family was and also spoke about her ordeal in the Labour Party after accusing its former leadership of antisemitism. She concluded with a plea against complacency in this country and cited the hostile language which various politicians have used against refugees, such as that they posed an “existential crisis” and that there was a “hurricane” of asylum seekers.

Two authors, two events

We were treated to a magnificent and highly original SCR talk about three families in Gloucester by Christine Manby (who writes under the pseudonym CJ Wray) on 16th January. She grew up in that city. She spoke about herself being adopted and about one of the families a few streets away called the Wests. The father was Fred West the serial killer whose last victim  was his own daughter.

Chrissie Manby studied Experimental Psychology at St Edmund Hall.  Writing as C.J. Wray and various other pseudonyms she is the author of forty-two novels including Sunday Times Bestsellers Running Away From Richard, Seven Sunny Days, and The Matchbreaker. Please read her new novel, The Excitements.

Siddart Shrikanth gave a compelling Principal’s Conversation on his outstanding book The Case for Nature, the Other Planetary Crisis on 23 January to a packed audience. Sid was the JCR President in my first year of office and has subsequently worked for McKinsey, the FT and Al Gore’s environmental investment arm. He has also fitted in MBAs at both Harvard and Stanford. He discussed his new book which covers such issues as eco tourism, rewilding and regenerating, and natural capital.

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