Reflections on My Second Year

by Professor Jane Clarke

Professor Jane Clarke at graduation

As we swelter in the English summer, I reflect on my second hectic year here at Wolfson.  We began in October with a new tradition — matriculation ceremonies. In June, we held the first of two celebratory graduation weekends to send off the undergraduates and then in July we said congratulations to our postgraduate students: PhD and Master's degrees — including a large cohort of our part-time students.

Professor Jane Clarke at graduation

These events are very special. Our graduates come accompanied by partners, parents, children and friends. Meeting these proud families from around the world reminds me how the achievement of our students touches the lives of others on an international scale.

We should be inspired by the story of our benefactor Sir Isaac Wolfson who, denied an education himself, determined to support the education of future generations. In my graduation speech I reminded our new graduates how their Cambridge predecessors have changed the world, and challenged them to do the same.

And it’s not just students to whom we bid goodbye. Our Praelector Dr Brian Cox is stepping down after having presented over 5,000 students to receive their degrees over 22 years. We thank Brian and his ever-present helper Dr Margaret Wichelow for their long service to the College. We will also be waving farewell to a number of Fellows, including some Junior Research Fellows who are leaving to academic positions across the world. Our Fellows deliver our mission of doing world-class research and scholarship internationally.

This year I have been fortunate to visit our alumni abroad and wherever I went I found that our Wolfson alumni community is multinational. In Manhattan we were joined by alumni from four continents, and in Singapore I met alumni from across and beyond Southeast Asia. The alumni at our London and Cambridge events also reflected the diversity of our College.  A world-class education can clearly set you up to succeed anywhere in world! This is why the mission of Wolfson is so important: to support life-long learning; to be a community where our diversity fosters new perspectives on the world and mutual respect and understanding; to offer hard-working students the support they need to succeed. In Ring True and on our website, we share the success stories of our students, Fellows and alumni. I hope they make you proud to be part of Wolfson. 

We have just launched our 2019 Annual Fund Appeal and I cannot close without thanking our generous supporters across the world, who make what we do possible. Those who support scholarships and bursaries for talented students, those who support the cultural and sporting activities which enrich the lives of our students, those who mentor our students before they arrive, when they are here and when they move out into the worldwide Wolfson community.  I look forward to welcoming you back to Wolfson soon.

Professor Jane Clarke and Senior Tutor Dr Susan Larsen at a matriculation ceremony to welcome new students.
Professor Jane Clarke and Senior Tutor Dr Susan Larsen at a matriculation ceremony to welcome new students.