Press Release from Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

Master with students


Admission of Lord Williams of Oystermouth as Master of Magdalene College in the University of Cambridge today, Thursday, 17 January 2013 in College.

The President of the College admitted Lord Williams as Master of St Mary Magdalene College during a short ceremony witnessed by the Fellows, Junior Members and staff of the College. The President, Professor Michael Carpenter, commented afterwards:

"This is a historic and happy moment in the life of the College for Fellows, staff and students alike. We are exceptionally fortunate to have been able to elect such a distinguished figure as Lord Williams to lead the College, and now look forward to working with him in pursuit of our common goals of academic achievement, access and development, during the course of his Mastership."

Lord Williams of Oystermouth, the 35th Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, said:

'I am delighted and honoured to be joining the College as Master. My first priority is now to get to know this richly varied community, which has already proved exceptionally welcoming to myself and my family, and to work with them all to keep the College a place of warmth and co-operation, challenge and excellence.'

The Master's role is to lead the College at a time of change in Higher Education, and to promote its work as an academic institution of high achievement, open to the ablest students irrespective of background. In addition to pursuing his own research, the Master takes an active interest in all aspects of College life, and represents the College both within the University and to the wider world. He fosters the well-being and interests of all members of the College community, including students, Fellows and non-academic staff.

The Master's formal duties include chairing meetings of the Governing Body (currently 39 Fellows) and its principal committees, working with College officers to maintain an efficient administration; presiding at major social events; maintaining links with alumni and promoting the welfare of students.

Mr Duncan Robinson, C.B.E., F.R.S.A., D.L retired as Master at the end of December 2012 having been in office since 2002. Mr Robinson's immediate predecessor as Master of Magdalene was Sir John Gurdon, recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine"

Master

The College

There has been a continuous tradition of academic study on the site of the College since it was founded as a Benedictine hostel in 1428. It was refounded as the College of St Mary Magdalene in 1542 by Sir Thomas Audley and is now a vibrant academic community of some 350 undergraduates, 180 graduate students and 80 Fellows, together with 90 administrative and other staff.

The College's most famous alumnus is Samuel Pepys, whose papers and books were donated to the College upon his death, and are now housed in the Pepys Building. Charles Stuart Parnell, George Mallory, Lord Tedder, Lord Blackett, Sir Michael Redgrave, Professor CS Lewis and Professor Sir John Gurdon, our most recent Nobel laureate, are among the Members of the College.

Lord Williams of Oystermouth

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, South Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor Comprehensive School in Swansea and at Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate – in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought – at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection at Mirfield, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a Lecturer in Divinity in the University, and the following year became Dean and Chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990.

In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as Bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years' experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Lord Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding thinker, writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. His more than two dozen books cover a very wide range of related fields – philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics: he has published studies of Dostoevsky and C.S. Lewis (a Fellow of Magdalene), and his most recent book, Faith in the Public Square , is a collection of public talks and lectures on the implications of religion for politics and social policy. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

His interests include music, fiction and languages. In 1981 Lord Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

Magdalene College 17 January 2013. Images credit to Stephen Bond.

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