It was only a little over a year ago that Prince Charles stood in Green Hall with our Librarian and Archivist Dr Anne Manuel, learning about the history of education for women.

So much has changed in the world since then that, remarkably, the transition of Charles from prince to king is by far the least dramatic event of recent times. During such periods of rapid upheaval, we draw strength from our community: from the academics breaking new ground in thought and practice, from our students who bring such energy and idealism, and from you, our alumni, who embody the values of Somerville in the world beyond these walls. 

Here in College, the new academic year has once again begun with significant departures and arrivals. We say a fond farewell to Dr Anne Manuel, our Fellow and Librarian, whom many of you will remember fondly as your librarian, as well as our Head Gardener, Sophie Walwin, who transformed the Somerville gardens through her artful planting and commitment to sustainability. Both women will cast long shadows over the spaces they tended so well. Happily, their successors – Sarah Butler, our new Librarian and Head of Information Services, and Alastair Mallick, our new Head Gardener – already have exciting plans to build on their legacies through careful stewardship, innovation and sustainability.

Elsewhere in college, we are well and truly back to leading the way on the things that matter. We have just become the third college in the University to pledge to pay the higher Oxford Living Wage. We have also renewed our promise to include the excluded through our first in-person open days since the summer of 2019, which were by all standards a roaring success (our new low-carbon model library prospectus proved especially popular). And we continue to add to our century of heritage in supporting refugees as we prepare to welcome four new sanctuary scholars – our largest cohort to date – including two postgraduates from Ukraine. None of this vital work could happen without the generous support and guidance of our community.