A message for our graduands
In ordinary circumstances, today would have been the day when you would have come together in First Court in excited anticipation of your walk to Senate House for your General Admission. Dr Patterson would have been busy policing the uniform, checking on black socks and adequate leg coverings (and providing spare socks from his pocket for delinquents), lining everyone up in order, showing which way round you need to wear hoods correctly and all the rest of it. You and the rest of us would have been sweltering in costume designed for the Ice Age (doctor’s scarlet is a grievous burden in this weather) – but picturesque enough to delight photograph-obsessed parents and friends (and tourists). The Head Porter would be moving out to stop the traffic and then off we would go down Magdalene Street, then Bridge Street to Trinity Street arriving at the Senate House for a ceremony which hasn’t changed much since the founding of Magdalene in the fifteenth century.
Well, not this year, alas. All University gatherings are postponed until further notice because of the extraordinary measures we have had to put in place in this still risky time. The beach may be crowded out at Bournemouth, but our duty of care takes priority here. However, we do now have clear plans for celebrating your graduation next year. Most of you will be taking your degrees ‘in absentia’ not in person this summer, but plans are well advanced for a major event next year, when large gatherings will, we trust, be possible again – an event where we shall indeed dress up (socks and all) and process to the Senate House to be congratulated there in a specially devised ceremony. All of you who had planned to graduate on June 26th 2020 will still be able to come back and have your achievements recognized.
We also look forward to welcoming you to a virtual celebration on 22 July – the date on which we traditionally hold our annual dinner for the Feast of St Mary Magdalene. This will include a more formal part, with speeches by the Praelector, Master, Senior Tutor and the former JCR President, and an informal social gathering involving a live draw and the chance to visit breakout rooms with your Directors of Study and Tutors. Details to follow; we hope as many of you as possible will join us on that occasion.
But for now, congratulations to all of you – not only on your academic results, of which we are as proud as ever, but on the way in which you have managed this last term and its trials. You have worked hard, looked out for each other and done all you can to keep our community alive and well. Thank you for being part of the Magdalene community; we shall look forward enormously to having you back with us whenever you can make it. And – to be personal for a moment – thanks so much, on behalf of Jane and myself, for making our years here in the Master’s Lodge so consistently happy and lively. Conferring degrees each year has always been a high point for me, as it is a chance to play some small role in recognizing the quality of all you have contributed to the life of this wonderful college. It’s been a privilege to share that life with you all, and I wish you all good things in the future.