New buildings, February 2021

Building the Future

A message from the Principal, Spring 2021

I hope it will soon be possible to invite you back to St Hilda’s to share at first hand the remarkable physical transformation of our College. Finally, the day has arrived when we can see our charming new College buildings in the round! Work now starts to prepare the gardens and the seasonal planting that will allow the Anniversary Building and Pavilion to settle properly into the site. We shall get used to pointing out St Hilda’s from many new vantage points across Oxford.

After a year in which the terrible pandemic has dominated all of our lives, this achievement by dedicated people, supported wholeheartedly by our College and alumnae community, feels little short of a miracle. For the 52 students who moved into the Anniversary Building in Michaelmas 2020, the beautifully appointed rooms have been a haven, doubly appreciated by those who were not able to return home for the vacations.

I am pleased to report that our Fellows and Lecturers have worked successfully to support the notable progress of our wonderful students. Our administrative and support teams have likewise been exceptionally creative in delivering their services effectively and safely under very difficult conditions.

While the College has grown agile in responding to the ever-changing circumstances, it is clear that the pandemic has taken a toll on College finances, and will continue to do so throughout Trinity term and the summer vacation. The reduction in projected income from student accommodation and catering and conference activities across the vacations has reduced our operating income significantly.

We simply cannot let the pandemic diminish our ambitions for our College or reduce the aspirations for our students and Fellows; momentum has not been lost, only tempered by the global misfortune of the pandemic. We are committed to advancing the next phase of our ambitious campaign, Building the Future.

Excellent opportunities are here for donors to make their mark and shape the College – including the naming of the riverside Pavilion, our wonderful new teaching space. For those whose favourite parts of the College include its lovely gardens, we invite donations to a fund to create uplifting surroundings and actively support sympathetic and sustainable plantings, trees, meadow flowers, and habitats in which wildlife can thrive.

The tutorial system is at the heart of an Oxford education. We are fortunate to have a talented group of Fellows to maintain the highest quality of teaching, even under difficult conditions when remote teaching has become the norm. With the College’s strategic development into medical and biomedical sciences, we now seek support to secure a vital early career post in Biomedical Sciences to ensure that we retain our critical teaching strength in this important field.

Above all, recent events have impressed upon us that we simply must provide rooms for all of our undergraduates for their entire time at St Hilda’s. These facilities, aligned with funding for those from financially disadvantaged families, will help us reduce the impact of the pandemic on our students and give them the best possible means of flourishing at Oxford. With this in mind, we will soon submit a planning application for three buildings to be located near the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building. The details of these elegant, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings are on the back cover of our latest brochure.

My great hope, in my final year in post (alas), is that we can maintain the tremendous progress of this important campaign – in spite of all that has been happening across the world and the significant impact the pandemic has had on our College income. I therefore urge you to join alumnae and friends and make a commitment this year to fund a bright future for St Hilda’s!

Professor Sir Gordon Duff, Principal

Professor Sir Gordon Duff, Principal