Reflections on an unprecedented term

8th December 2020

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Warden Ken Macdonald QC and SU President Aaron Shankar look back at the achievements of Michaelmas term under pandemic.

  • Wadham students in the gardens

Wadham has long been famous for the solidarity that members of our community feel for one another and this defining characteristic has become very real this year, contributing to an environment that, even in the face of a global pandemic, has remained caring and safe for us all. 

Ken Macdonald QC, Warden

Message from the Ken Macdonald QC, Warden

As this term draws to a close, I wish to pay tribute to the students, staff and fellows of our College who have responded to very unusual and unsettling circumstances with such good humour and fortitude. Wadham has long been famous for the solidarity that members of our community feel for one another and this defining characteristic has become very real this year, contributing to an environment that, even in the face of a global pandemic, has remained caring and safe for us all. In our College, compliance with new ways of living and working has been high, and cases of infection correspondingly very low. I’m grateful to all those who have made sacrifices this term in their desire to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. This is the true spirit of Wadham.

As I write, our Back Quad building project is drawing to a close and our beautiful new William Doo Undergraduate Centre and its adjoining Lee Shau Kee Building are looking magnificent. As we hoped, they already provide graceful, gleaming additions to our ancient site, a reminder of Wadham’s longstanding confidence in human progress and the modern world. Just as Nicholas Wadham looked forward in his radical vision to a College where, he said, scholars should be free to profess what they liked, we, too, are focussed on the future, which we contemplate with confidence. 

Amidst all the concerns of the past term, one great light shone through- and that was the award, to our much-loved Emeritus Fellow Sir Roger Penrose, of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics. The delight here was palpable and I’m sure it was shared by all of you. We’ll have a proper celebration of this wonderful achievement as soon as possible. WadhamProud, indeed. 

We know that many of you in our wider alumni community have been facing stresses and difficulties of your own, and so we are even more grateful than usual for your expressions of affection and concern. Thank you for your kindness and support and we return all your warm wishes. I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year. 

Above all, students have remained connected and in communication

Aaron Shankar, SU President

Message from Aaron Shankar, SU President

It’s been a challenging and unprecedented term – there is no doubt about that – but in many ways, it has been a term full of opportunities, too. 

Our Freshers have settled into the college remarkably, despite the circumstances, and have, by all accounts, had an enjoyable term; finalists continue to work hard and prepare; and our second years are loving the new Dorothy Wadham Building and its facilities. 

Above all, students have remained connected and in communication with me and College over this period. Our wonderful SU officers have put on events such as welfare drop-ins, movie nights, bar quizzes, and have provided support to students in isolation with snacks, activities, and even a board game exchange. Students continue to approach me and College with concerns, but I can honestly say I feel this is a good thing; this shows the culture of communication in Wadham between the students and the staff, academic and domestic, which has been built up over a number of years.

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