Letter from The Warden

I am writing this on the day that the largest global TV audience ever tuned in to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Today also sees the arrival of the first cohort of new students at St Antony’s. In both cases, it marks the end of one era and the beginning of another one, since we are hoping very much that this will be the first year since 2019 that we can enjoy a full year of activity with all our students able to come to Oxford.

At the end of Trinity Term, we held our first Governing Body Dinner in three years in the refurbished dining hall now named the Wahba Dining Hall. The name is in honour of Dr Magdi Wahba whose family made it possible for us to complete the work on the Hilda Besse Building. Thanks to new fire safety measures, the Hall can now easily accommodate all 250 of our new students. Indeed, it now has the largest seating capacity (around 320) of any college dining hall in Oxford – and an even larger capacity for bops!

At the Governing Body Dinner, we marked the passing of all those who would normally have attended but were sadly no longer with us: Monna Besse (the last surviving child of our founder), Geoffrey Elliott, Derek Hopwood, Michael Kaser, Nemir Kirdar, Tony Nicholls, Sadako Ogata, David Washbrook and Ann Waswo. We also marked the passing of our former College housekeeper, Estelle Hussein, who looked after generations of students and, sadly, I must now add the name of our former Domestic Bursar, John Sellars, who will be similarly remembered. (A list of the obituaries of former staff, fellows and alumni can be seen at Obituaries | St Antony's College; if you are aware of anyone who is missing, please do let us know.)

At the Dinner, we bade goodbye and paid tribute to the contributions of two members of the Governing Body who were stepping down: Dan Healey to retirement and Chris Gerry to take up an exciting new position at the University of Central Asia in Bishkek. They have both promised to keep in close touch in the future. This term we are excited to be welcoming three new Governing Body Fellows: Maryam Alemzadeh (Associate Professor in the History and Politics of Iran); Lenka Bustikova (Associate Professor in European Union and Comparative East European Politics), and Zbigniew Wojnowski (Associate Professor in Soviet History). I anticipate that they will have the chance to introduce themselves and their work in future newsletters.

As many people know, the University welcomes a new Vice Chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey in 2023. She will be surprised to discover how many Antonians there are playing important roles in the University’s governance: Tim Power is the Head of the Social Sciences Division; Diego Sanchez-Ancochea is Head of Development Studies; David Pratten is Head of Anthropology; Paul Chaisty is Head of Area Studies. Tim (ex officio), Diego and Nandini Gooptu (both elected through Congregation) are all members of the University Council. Last year, of course, David Johnson served as a distinguished Senior Proctor and Devika Devika was the College’s first (as far as I know) OUSU Sabbatical, serving as Vice President for Graduates, during which time both David and Devika were also ex officio members of the University Council. I suspect that there is currently no other college which has as many members so involved in helping the University steer its way through what look like very challenging times ahead. We are grateful to our colleagues for taking on these very difficult roles but also see it as a sign that St Antony’s is now at the forefront of helping define what Oxford is and should be as we start what has been named the Second Carolean Era under King Charles III.