28th September 2017 Rector Professor Sir Rick Trainor

Reflections on the long vacation from Rector Trainor

As the long vacation comes to an end, Rector Trainor reflects on the considerable activity in Exeter College over that period and looks forward to the start of the 2017/18 academic year.

Exonians near and far understand that the ‘Long Vacation’ has ceased to be a time simply for ‘dreaming’, if it ever was! This summer was particularly busy at Exeter. For the third consecutive year there has been major refurbishment of one of the 1960s staircases in the Margary Quad; now all those legacies of the 650th anniversary in 1964 will be fit for the 21st century. The College welcomed a number of summer schools to the historic Turl Street site, following a pattern that has prevailed for many years in which Exeter serves as a congenial ‘hotel’ for programmes organised outside the College. 2017 brought an innovative addition: a summer school at Cohen Quad, promoted and organised by the College itself. This venture was a major success, attracting 70 high achieving undergraduates from North America and East Asia; they greatly enjoyed the new quad while doing justice to a diverse and rigorous curriculum delivered by tutors and lecturers from around Oxford and beyond, supplemented by special lecturers such as Exonian General Sir Richard Shirreff (1974, Modern History). The Exeter Summer School – based on a great deal of work by academic director (and Fellow in English) Jeri Johnson, Bursar William Jensen, College Accountant Eleanor Burnett, the College’s consultant Greg Lewis and an enthusiastic group of student helpers – promises to boost the College’s international academic profile. It will also generate part of the additional income demanded by the business plan for Cohen Quad, which – while greatly enhancing the experience of all Exonians – has not increased the number of our undergraduate or graduate students and so has not increased income from matriculated students.

A major excitement in College during the summer was the visit of the King and Queen of Spain to Exeter on 14 July. The host since 1927 of the University’s King Alfonso XIII Chair of Spanish studies, Exeter has long been the focus of Oxford’s study of Spain. In recent decades funds were raised for a Queen Sofía Fellowship in Spanish – and Queen Sofía herself (who visited the College most recently in 2014) became an honorary fellow. During the past year, after a resignation a History tutorial fellowship was altered from British to Iberian history (including the history of the empires of Spain and Portugal). Recently a new benefaction has set up a junior research fellowship in Spanish history to start in October 2018. So it was natural that the current King (son of Queen Sofía) and Queen should visit Exeter as part of their visit to the University, which was the culmination of their state visit to the UK. Following a visit to the Bodleian to inspect Spanish treasures and a lunch in the Divinity School (which included a speech from the King in which he praised Oxford in general and Exeter College in particular), their Majesties spent over an hour in the College, meeting dozens of people – including Spanish employees of the College and University, Exeter fellows and staff, Exeter students of Spanish, and a wide assortment of Oxonians from outside Exeter engaged in Spanish teaching and research. The Oxford weather was kind, permitting the event to be held in the Fellows’ Garden.

The King and Queen of Spain are welcomed to Exeter College by Rector Trainor and his wife Professor Marguerite Dupree

Spring and summer examinations brought the College 27 Firsts in Finals and 16 comparable performances in Prelims and Mods. The choir had a highly successful tour of central European cities accompanied by the Chaplain. In terms of alumni achievements, I note the appointment of Professor John Quelch (1969, Modern History), long-standing professor at Harvard Business School, as the dean of the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration.

Most recently, a very successful Gaudy welcomed back to College a capacity crowd in Hall consisting of alumni (and their guests) who matriculated between 2005 and 2009. This youthful crowd gave an appropriately enthusiastic welcome to Rector Cairncross – their Rector as students – who spoke after dinner, as did I and alumna Namukale Chintu (2006, Management Research), who was one of the substantial minority of former graduate students attending.

2005 - 2009 gaudy September 2017

Guests of the 2005 – 2009 Gaudy filled the Hall

Oxford has recently been designated, for the second year in a row, the world’s number one university by Times Higher Education. This encouragement should help the University, and its colleges, withstand the suddenly very challenging atmosphere surrounding UK government policy toward universities, especially the level of tuition fees. I’ll be following these debates closely – as a continuing member of the University’s governing body (Council) and as the newly installed elected Chair of Oxford’s Conference of Colleges.

Academic year 2017-18, during which Exeter will welcome several new Fellows and its usual complement of undergraduate and graduate students, is upon us. I hope to see many alumni during the next 12 months, whether in Oxford, in London or farther afield.

Rick Trainor

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