Principal’s Welcome to Trinity Term

Dear members of St Anne’s,

I do hope you and your families and friends are safe and well.

I can report that College is strangely but calmly quiet on the day when Hartland driveway is usually strewn with cars, long suffering parents, stray piles of belongings, and enthusiastic reunions with friends. Tutors and College staff may not always be as overtly and noisily delighted to see students return, but I know without doubt that this new definition of ‘term time’ provokes in us all a sense of nostalgia about previous Trinity Terms and a longing for when we will meet again.

It is completely understandable, particularly for those of you for whom Trinity Term was to be your last term at St Anne’s, that there is a sense of loss and sadness about what will not now happen. It may be hard not to feel resentful or angry that experiences, including; exams, social, cultural and sporting activities, the Ball, punting, being trashed, formals, time in the sunshine with friends, and some graduation ceremonies, enjoyed by previous generations are not taking place in 2020 as they usually would. I reiterate our promise that, when it is safe to do so, we will reunite current finalists as a year group at St Anne’s so that they can celebrate the successful completion of their degrees with each other, their tutors, and with their families. The JCR and MCR are being consulted on the format this should take.

Despite these real disappointments, what has impressed me beyond measure has been the calm, pragmatic and resourceful way all members of College have adapted to these unprecedented and uncertain circumstances. A few months ago I think all of us would have resisted a move to online teaching and learning as unfeasible, particularly within a short timescale. Yet huge effort over the vacation by tutors means that degrees will continue to be taught and assessed. There will, no doubt, be challenges, but they will be overcome or worked around by everyone supporting each other to find the best way to address them,  including tutors, students, and College staff including in the library, academic office, and IT teams.

We are also very aware that research has been impacted upon negatively in all sorts of ways. Some things cannot be done at home and some homes, or the needs of other people in them, make working very difficult. College is doing what it can to help and some researchers at St Anne’s have also been successful in securing new funding to support innovative national and global efforts to overcome Covid-19. We are very proud of the work that is being done.

Innovation and ‘can-do’ has enabled more than I could have ever have believed possible to continue. A minimal number of essential staff has continue to support the remaining residents in College, with everyone else, including all academics and tutors, working from home or being on furlough. All sections of the College have generated fantastic and eclectic online activities to keep us connected and functioning as a community – our particular thanks to the JCR and MCR committees for their work, and not forgetting the catering team’s weekly Instagram cook off. As a College we are also providing help to the NHS and local groups where we have facilities or resources that are needed.

So, having grieved for what cannot be, let’s look to the term ahead with determination and optimism. We have exceptional and  dedicated tutors, and a tutorial system which can continue with technological support. We have technology previous generations could not have dreamed of. We have ever increasing access to electronic texts and other materials, and, most importantly, we have each other. St Anne’s is a remarkable community of diverse and hugely talented individuals with a common aspiration: to understand the world and change it for the better.

So thank you for the part you are playing to change this troubled and worrying world for the better. It may be by conducting or participating in world leading research. It may be through volunteering in your local community. It may be by supporting and encouraging colleagues and friends at St Anne’s, or as a member or representative on the College’s Governing Body. It may be by committing yourself in new ways to your work this term,  despite all the distractions and disruption around you.

Please let me know if you have news to share or if there are ways that we can help you. I will always be glad to hear from you.

With every good wish for a healthy and rewarding Trinity Term,

Helen King, QPM