April 2016


British Academy memoir of Maurice Keen

   Maurice Keen

The British Academy has published a memoir of Maurice Keen (Fellow and Tutor in Modern History 1961-2000 and Emeritus Fellow 2000-2012), who was a Fellow of the British Academy. 

The memoir is by Professor Christopher Tyerman, who writes: ‘Maurice was one of the great university tutors of the twentieth century, not just in History and not just in Oxford where he spent the whole of his professional life. This he unassumingly combined with research and publications that placed him in the top flight of historians of his generation.’

LISTEN: Getting more girls involved in mathematics competitions


Vicky Neale. Photograph
courtesy of Oxford
Mathematical Institute 

Balliol Lecturer Vicky Neale, Whitehead Lecturer in the Mathematical Institute, spoke on BBC Radio 4's 'More or Less' to discuss efforts to get more girls to take part in mathematics competitions.  She talks about working as a volunteer for the UK Maths Trust, and how more school-aged girls can get involved in UK mathematics competitions.  Listen to the full interview here (from 20:18 on the clock).

READ: Former Master writes about EU referendum


Andrew Graham. Photograph
courtesy of The Guardian

From the rule of law to freedom of religion, Britain’s values were founded in Europe, and for all its faults the EU supports values and practices that are of immense importance to us, argues Andrew Graham (Acting Master 1997–2001; Master 2001–2011) in an article in The Guardian about the EU referendum.

Gaudy for the years 2000-2002


Alumni from the years 2000-2002 celebrated their first Gaudy at Balliol on 19 March with a drinks reception in the Buttery and dinner in Hall. Jamie Lee (2002) spoke for the years, evoking vivid memories: "Sitting in the JCR for Pantry breakfast… and then Pantry lunch… and then Pantry tea. Running around the JCR to get quorum for a General Meeting, or quorum for the rugby team by finding a 14th and 15th man. Banning Coca-Cola. Having an Extraordinary General Meeting to un-ban Coca-Cola. The Constitutional Crisis when we had to put up the cost of a shot and mixer at Crazy Tuesdays to 75p!”

In the run-up to the event, the Gaudy Committee, chaired by Vladimir Bermant (2002), raised a remarkable £120,000 from former classmates in support of current students. Vladimir says, “Raising money is always tough but I was privileged to be part of an extraordinarily talented committee, motivated by a common cause - our desire to give back to Balliol, and help current and future students succeed and have fun along the way. The response from our alumni peer group was terrific. People gave very generously and relished the opportunity to re-connect with Balliol. We all look forward to the next Gaudy!”

On behalf of the students, we warmly thank the Gaudy Committee and all the other Old Members who gave so generously.

WATCH: The Master interviews Edward Gelles on his new book 'The Jewish Journey: a passage through European History'


Edward Gelles. Photograph 
courtesy of Voices from Oxford

In 2015, Edward Gelles (1944) published his new book 'The Jewish Journey: a passage through European History' (I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd).  Dr Gelles' book uses genealogy and history to piece together the fascinating story of his ancestors and their lives throughout Europe on a timescale spanning over a thousand years.  The Master spoke with Dr Gelles about his book in an interview with Voices from Oxford.  

Dr Gelles' lifelong interests have been European history, art and antiques, and in more recent years Jewish history and genealogy. His extensive publications in this field include many articles in specialist journals and six books, which are itemised in his "Papers of Edward Gelles".

Telethon success raises over £250,000



Earlier this month a team of 16 current students spent their evenings in conversation with over 700 Old Members.  The students heard stories of Balliol from years gone by, laughed at old pranks, spoke to Old Members working as high in the trees as lumberjacks, heard life-shaping advice, and raised over £250,000 to support the College.  The funds raised will support all areas of College life – from providing Hardship and Junior Maintenance Grants, to ensuring that we can continue to refurbish accommodation and teaching areas.  In short, it will improve the experience of every student in Balliol.  Thank you for taking the time to talk, thank you for the kind words and wisdom you offered, and thank you for supporting Balliol.

Old Member nominated for Irish Times Theatre Award


Tom Lane. Photograph
courtesy of

Congratulations to Tom Lane (2002) who was recently nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Sound Design this year.  The nomination was for his work as composer and sound designer on Oedipus at the Abbey Theatre (Ireland's National Theatre).

This is Tom Lane's third nomination for these awards: in 2012 his opera Flatpack was nominated for Best Opera; in 2014 he was nominated for Best Sound Design for Between Trees and Water by Painted Bird Productions. 

Old Member wins prize at Intercollegiate Golf Tournament


Joyce Kwong.
Photograph courtesy of
Disruptive Business Consulting

Congratulations to Joyce Kwong (1995) who won the prize for the  longest drive on the blue course at this year's Intercollegiate Golf Tournament.  She beat 81 other competitors from the 18 Colleges participating in the mixed tournament, to win the prize.  

Balliol's team managed to beat Oriel and came second to last in the tournament overall.  The team was: Chris Jelley (1962), Joyce Kwong (1995), Edward Sawbridge (1972), Tom Brown (1969), Professor Euan Macphail (1958), The Revd Colin Sowter (1953), John Cottrell (1958), and Geoffrey Clements (1961).

Balliol Tutor is one of team to reveal secrets of chameleon's 'extreme' tongue

Professor Derek Moulton.
Photograph courtesy of
Oxford Mathematical Institute

Balliol Tutor and Associate Professor of Mathematical Biology, Professor Derek Moulton, is one of the team at Oxford's Mathematical Institute who, working in collaboration with Tufts University, have built a mathematical model to explain the secrets of the chameleon's extraordinarily powerful tongue.

Professor Moulton said: 'If you are looking at the equations they might look complex, but at the heart of all of this is Newton's Second Law – the sort of thing that kids are learning in A-levels, which is simply that you're balancing forces with accelerations.  In mathematical terms, what we've done is used the theory of non-linear elasticity to describe the energy in the various tongue layers and then passed that potential energy to a model of kinetic energy for the tongue dynamics.'


If you would like us to mention in this section any significant work published this year or last, please contact Ginny Matthews.
Cecilia Miller (1985) has published 'Enlightenment and Political Fiction: The Everyday Intellectual' (Routledge, 2016).  Her book examines five works of fiction, which the book takes as embodying the core of the Enlightenment, and makes evident that there was a vibrant concern for the constructive as well as destructive aspects of emotion during the Enlightenment, rather than an exclusive concern for rationality.  A full abstract can be read on Dr Miller's website.
Sir Geoffrey Owen (1952) has co-authored a book with Michael Hopkins 'Science, the State and the City: Britain's struggle to succeed in biotechnology' (Oxford University Press, 2016). Their book examines the evolution of one of the most important technologies that has emerged in the last fifty years: biotechnology - the use of living organisms, or parts thereof to create useful products and services.  It provides the most recent and detailed history of UK biotech industry with comparison to the US.
Charlotte Higgins (1990) has published 'This New Noise: The Extraordinary Birth and Troubled Life of the BBC' (Guardian Faber Publishing, 2015). The book is based on her series of nine essays about the corporation for the Guardian. Combining reporting with historical and archival research, she delves into the BBC's past to help illuminate its fractious present and possible future, at a uniquely vulnerable time for this most significant of British institutions.
Michael Emerson (1959) has written a paper 'The Final Brexit Question. The known Plan A to remain or the unknown Plan B to leave' (CEPS Working Document No. 418, February 2016). His paper looks attempts to sketch three alternative Plan Bs to leave the EU, and to evaluate their qualities in relation to the Plan A, to remain in the EU. Michael Emerson has also edited, and contributed to 'Britain's Future in Europe: The Known Plan A to Remain or the Unknown Plan B to Leave' (Centre for European Policy Studies; 2 edition, 2016).
Robyn Williams (Supernumerary Visiting Fellow, 1995) has published 'In Love with Betty the Crow: The First 40 Years of The Science Show' (Harper Collins, 2016). The book accounts forty years of The Science Show with Robyn Williams, which is one of the longest running programs on Australian radio. The book reveals, in his inimitable style, why science is important - touching on topics like the flakes and the heroes, propaganda, cosmic revolutions, our relationship with animals, women in science, and of course, the environment.



    • Balliol Society Weekend - Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 OctoberThose who matriculated in 2008 will receive an individual invitation. Make sure to update your contact details so that you don't miss out!
    • The Usborne Dinner - Thursday 17 November, Reform Club London - By invitation

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