Happy New Year everyone!
January is traditionally a time of both looking back on the old year and looking forward to the future. Thankfully, Michaelmas 2021 was a welcome return to normality, far better than anyone here at Oxford expected, even with our cautious optimism last October.
Our highlights included giving the 2020 leavers the send-off they deserved, which was made possible through generous support from our alumni; three wonderful Christmas formals, featuring the angelic voices of the Choir; the award of a full professorship to our Senior Research Fellow Patricia Kingori, making her one of the youngest women to be awarded a full professorship in Oxford’s 925-year history and the youngest Black professor at Oxford or Cambridge; and a moving commemoration service for the late Baroness Shirley Williams, which you can watch again here to remind yourself of why she is so deeply missed by everyone at Somerville. We want to go further and create a lasting legacy for Shirley here at Somerville by endowing our tutorial fellowship in Politics in her name. If you are interested in learning more or helping us to reach our fundraising target, please visit our page for the campaign or get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking ahead, we must once again face the familiar challenge of the pandemic. Sadly, it is more than plausible that there might be some disruption to the term. We will hope for the best, secure in the knowledge that we remain ready to draw on the same grit, compassion and sense of community that has always sustained Somerville in a crisis should there be any new restrictions.
That singular determination and awareness of the common good can be seen clearly in the two wonderful achievements that have begun our Hilary term: the award of a DBE to our alumna and honorary fellow Dame June Raine (1971, Physiological Sciences); and the announcement by a team of scientists containing four Somervillians of the creation of a pioneering and potentially lifesaving new blood test for cancer. To carry out such work is extraordinary at any time, but to do so during the challenging conditions of the pandemic is doubly so. We are an extremely proud college!
We remain hopeful that we will be able to continue with our programme of in-person alumni events, which will include welcoming Dame June as a guest of honour at our annual Somerville Association AGM and Spring Meeting on March 5th. This year’s event is combined with the meeting of the Somerville Medics group, of which Dame June is also chair. Joining Dame June on our panel will be pharmaceutical executive and the founding Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, Dame Kate Bingham, whose mother Elizabeth Bingham studied History at Somerville in 1957. We feel fabulously lucky to be able to bring together two of the most important women in the UK’s pandemic response over the last two years, and we will be in touch in due course about how to sign up.
Unfortunately, Dame Fiona Caldicott’s memorial service has been postponed due to Omicron. We will let you know the new date as soon as possible – and are pleased to confirm that there will be plenty of other opportunities to visit Somerville in the coming year, including the JCR Law Society and Boat Club dinners, the Somerville-Jesus Ball on the 30th April (for which alumni tickets will be available on January 22nd) and, with any luck, the twice postponed Gaudy for the 1980-1991 matriculation years. There will also be a retirement celebration for Professor Richard Stone in the summer, with the date to be confirmed. Please keep an eye on your email inboxes and the events section of our website for further details.
We are delighted to be able to thank in-person all those who have given generously to the college over the last year at our annual Supporters’ lunch on the 5th February. It is hard to show our appreciation enough throughout the year for the transformative support we receive from our Somerville community – which is why we are launching the Cedar Circle, a new way to recognise and thank the many of you who make a regular contribution to the College of any amount. There are some exciting plans ahead, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the summer.
We really do hope that we will be able to see as many of you as possible – welcoming you back to your college is one of the things we have missed the most during the pandemic. Until then, please stay safe and have a lovely term,
The Somerville College Alumni Relations Team
P.S. We hope you enjoyed reading the latest edition of the Alumni Magazine, College Report and Donor Report! If you haven’t had a look yet, you can read them online here.