Prof Irene Tracey


Oxford's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey, sends a special update for alumni.

Published: 29 April 2024


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Dear alumni, I hope you are well and that 2024 is proving to be a good year for you and your loved ones.

I am pleased to report that Oxford is thriving, and we're ready for another great term to kick off.

I am also delighted to be speaking to you from the home of Oxford University Sport at Iffley Road, where next month we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Roger Bannister's four-minute mile: a landmark achievement of sporting success and human endeavour, and a legacy that this very sport ground proudly owns.

Now, if you live close by, do look out for ways you can get involved, either by taking part in the Community Mile, or spectating to cheer us runners on.

What can I say about the Boat Race? Well, congratulations to Cambridge, and our Osiris women's crew, but commiserations to those of our crews who lost. There is always next year, and we will win again.

Naturally, we remain deeply concerned and shocked at the situation in the Middle East. Let us remain firmly together as a community, respectful and tolerant and ever hopeful for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, a permanent ceasefire, the safe return of the hostages, and the immediate delivery of vital food and medical aid to those who are so desperately suffering. We are doing all we can here at Oxford to support our students and staff who are affected by the conflict.

Last term included some very special events: a visit by me to Tokyo, where I had the good fortune of meeting many alumni, including the Emperor and Empress. We also had a terrific celebration of International Women's Day with a panel discussion on the subject of women in tech and AI that included alumni Anne-Marie Imafidon, and my termly podcast, Fire and Wire,  hosted three terrific women academics from Oxford who spoke about their international research spanning paediatric surgery, parenting and water security. Do listen to Fire and Wire, as it's a great opportunity to learn more about the impactful research our brilliant researchers and academics are making across the globe.

Talking of which, I had the pleasure of joining our robotics researchers at Buckingham Palace to receive a Queen's Anniversary Prize for their outstanding research in all things robotics, including their work developing autonomous vehicles. In the New Year honours list, we had no less than 60 alumni honoured. Congratulations to you all, and thank you for your many contributions to society and the planet,  and for making your alma mater also very proud.

And, of course, last term brought the news that our dear, dear Chancellor, Chris Patten, will retire at the end of Trinity Term this year. We will have several opportunities to appropriately thank Chris and his wife Lavender for their many contributions to Oxford, and to Chris specifically for his extraordinary devotion to the role. He leaves a terrific legacy – and very big shoes to fill.

We are delighted that  elections will be online, so alumni across the global community will have the opportunity to be included in the election process. Elections are to be held in Michaelmas Term, and we will be in touch with details of how to register to vote in due course.

This term, we will say our fond farewell to many finalists and students completing their degrees at a three-day leavers’ fair in 8th week. But I hope you, like me, are looking forward to welcoming these 7,000 new alumni to our global alumni community. Please give them a warm welcome.

Booking opens at the end of June for the Meeting Minds event in Oxford in September. This is your opportunity to revisit the city and discover some of the University's groundbreaking research. We had record numbers last year, so let's try and beat that this September. Details of all these events will be sent via email, so do watch out for them, and trust me, you won't want to miss out.

Well, that's it for now. I look forward to sending further messages after term is complete, but meanwhile, take care and thank you for all you do to support this great University and your colleges, and I look forward to meeting you at future gatherings.

News and events mentioned in the Vice-Chancellor's message

70th anniversary of the sub-four-minute-mile:

University's response to recent events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle-East

Listen to the Fire and Wire podcast:

Queens' Anniversary Prize for Oxford Robotics:

New Year's Honours for alumni:

Save the date for Meeting Minds:  


Please look out for more details about the elections for the Chancellor of the University of Oxford in the coming weeks.