A seasonal message from the Provost

20 December 2018



It has been another triumphant year for your College. The highlight was undoubtedly the news of multiple architectural and building awards for our astonishingly beautiful Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre. Not only did it win the Royal Institute of British Architects’ award for the best new building in southern England, it also came within a whisker of taking the Stirling Prize, one of the two or three most prestigious architecture prizes in the world. If you haven’t done so already, take a look at the short film the BBC made for their live television broadcast of the award ceremony: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06mncdq

In addition, the exquisite refurbishment of our dining Hall – achieved through the generosity of Lord John Sainsbury and the Linbury Trust – restored the heart of our College to its full Georgian glory. It deservedly won an award from the Oxford Preservation Trust for the best Large Building Conservation project of the year. We were also delighted to open the James Campbell College Archives, thanks to a legacy bequest from James himself and a gift from the Wilkinson Trust. There could be no more fitting memorial to a beloved tutor who was also the College’s first archivist.

Our students continue to ride high in the Norrington Table, even as they excel in sports (especially both boys’ and girls’ football), drama, music, charity and outreach work, and so much else. Second-year student Agnes Pethers deserves special praise: as well as singing in the Chapel Choir, which goes from strength to strength (they have another CD out this Christmas), she directed a delightful Much Ado about Nothing as the Buskins’ summer show, creatively using the cricket pavilion as the stage set; then, realizing that the centenary of the Armistice was not being properly marked by students, she put on an intensely moving production of Journey’s End in St Mary Magdalene Church (rehearsed in just ten days). Last week, to round off the year, she directed an intimate studio version of The Winter’s Tale, with the Provost in the role of Father Time!

We must be doing something right because this year, once again, we have had more applicants than any other College: nearly 1500 of the brightest young people each eager to win one of our coveted 120 places. We are working very hard to diversify the social, ethnic and regional diversity of that intake. This year we launched a very creative partnership in the north-west of England with an admirable charity, The Brilliant Club, which seeks to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the desire and the opportunity to apply for elite higher education institutions. And thanks to generous gifts from the Tinsley Foundation (courtesy of Henry Tinsley) and Sir William Parente, we have been able to appoint our first Tinsley Outreach Fellow – Dr Marchella Ward. Dr Ward will be joining us in January and is a dynamic young classicist who will be devoting the majority of her time to making connections with teachers and pupils across the country within the demographic we are seeking to reach.

I can also now announce our most recent major benefaction, an extraordinarily generous donation from Ben Delo (Maths & Computer Science 2002) for the endowment of the Bernard Sufrin Tutorial Fellowship in Computer Science, the Ben Delo Tutorial Fellowship in Mathematics and the Tony Corner Research Fund specifically for Fellows and Lecturers in Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science.

I am delighted to be sending you this news in the festive season and I wish you health and happiness for 2019.