Recent appointments suggest the University is looking to diversify the Oxford establishment, bringing our great ballast of social monolith at least into the 20th century.
Worcester College has chosen to grant Sir Ian McKellen a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship. The idolised actor, adored for his portrayal of Tolkien’s Gandalf was offered the position for three years, in which he will visit college at least six times. In these visits he is expected to put on masterclasses and ‘in conversation’ events with students. McKellen’s connection with Worcester College first arose from his joint interest in Shakespeare with the Provost, Sir Jonathan Bate. The pair are hoping to launch an app, which aims to make the Bard’s works more accessible to young people.
The other new appointment of the past week has been highly decorated former police officer Helen King’s new position as Principal of St Anne’s College, who will be the first member of the police force to become head of an Oxford college, taking over from former director of programmes at Channel 4, Tim Gardam. King said in a tweet that she was “looking forward to joining another great team”. The alumna, who studied PPE at St Anne’s from 1983 to 1986, will begin her new role in April 2017. The acting principal Robert Chard stated that King “combines genuine human warmth with impressive competence and a commitment to inclusiveness, diversity and opportunity”.
VERSA looks forward to increasingly less orthodox appointments, with unconfirmed reports that Christ Church plan to award Diane Abbott an Honorary Fellowship.