08 Apr 2013
It is with great sorrow that we have learned of the death of Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, this morning at the age of 87.
Baroness Thatcher, then Margaret Hilda Roberts, arrived at Somerville College in 1943 to study Chemistry. Raised in modest circumstances above her father's shop in Grantham, the young Margaret impressed her teachers with her passion for scholarship. Her tutor at Somerville was Dorothy Hodgkin, to date the only British woman to have won a Nobel Prize for science (in her case, Chemistry). Margaret's academic work was strong, and College records show that she was recommended for several grants and prizes, and an Exhibition. She also became President of the Oxford University Conservative Organisation.
Since her graduation in 1947, Somerville continued to enjoy a warm relationship with Baroness Thatcher; she was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the College in 1970. She maintained a particularly close friendship with our former Principal Daphne Park. It is largely thanks to the visionary fundraising activities of Baroness Park that the College was able to build its Margaret Thatcher Conference Centre, which was officially opened by her in 1991. Further successful fundraising campaigns led us to establish The Margaret Thatcher Fund, which now incorporates several exciting initiatives.
Somerville College sets students from all backgrounds on paths to future success. We are immensely proud to have educated Britain's first - and so far only - female Prime Minister and one of the most internationally significant statespeople of the twentieth century. On this sad day, we pay tribute to the truly pioneering spirit that propelled her to the pinnacle of British political, and public, life.