12th November 2019

Alumni, students and Fellows celebrate 40 years of co-education


On Saturday 9 November nearly 100 alumni, Fellows and current students gathered at the FitzHugh Auditorium in Cohen Quad to celebrate the 40th anniversary of co-education at Exeter College. Many of the guests had attended the night before a reunion dinner for alumni who matriculated in 1979 and were keen to continue the celebrations.

Guests heard and contributed to a variety of discussions and lively panel sessions assessing how co-education came about, how it influenced College life and how Exeter College has continued to develop and prosper since. Hearing the contrasting experiences of alumnae through the decades was certainly food for thought, especially for our current students.

Christina Blacklaws (1985, Jurisprudence) gave a wonderful talk on the work that she has done as president of the Law Society of England and Wales to highlight the issues surrounding gender inequality in law (issues that are all too common in other lines of work as well), and what can be done to overcome them.

Graduate students Ellen Brewster and Razia Chowdhry ended the day by revealing some of the research they are currently undertaking, and their experiences as Exeter students.

The day was a fascinating insight into College life in 1979, and just how far we have come since.

Peter Thompson Fellow in English Jeri Johnson (left) chaired a lively discussion comparing life at Exeter College in 1979 and the period shortly after the first women came to Exeter College with how it is today. Panellists included Tina Cook (middle) and Tessa McDonald (right), both of whom came to Exeter in the early 80s.

Among the guest speakers was Christina Blacklaws, who served as the 174th president of the Law Society of England and Wales. Here she is pictured with a photo of her Torpids rowing crew from 1986. This and other photos showing the history of women at Exeter College were on display during the symposium. 

Razia Chowdhry was among the current Exeter students to speak at the event. She talked about her research, which explores using synthetic cells to produce therapeutics, and about her experiences as an Exeter student.

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