OUS Victoria - Rhodes Scholars Victoria and Exeter College Dinner

Oxonians, Rhodes Scholars and other Oxonians in Melbourne gathered for a dinner on 14 December to welcome the guest of honour, Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Rector of Exeter College and a Rhodes Scholar from Rhode Island.

Twenty eight guests representing nine Oxford colleges enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and appreciated the opportunity provided by the clear, warm evening to see the rapidly changing Melbourne skyline.  A meal of roasted beetroot, goats cheese and carmelised onion tart was followed by bay leaf scented, seared salmon served with a fresh capsicum salsa.

Professor Carolyn Evans, Dean of Law at the University of Melbourne, was host for the event held at University House @ Woodward.  As an alumna of Exeter College and a Rhodes Scholar from Victoria, Professor Evans was representative of all groups attending and welcomed guests on behalf of Justice John Middleton, President of the Oxford University Society of Victoria.

Sir Rick responded to these welcoming remarks by providing an update on events in Oxford.  He reminded alumni that Professor Louise Richardson would become Vice-Chancellor in the new year, joining Oxford from the University of St Andrews. Sir Rick travelled to Australia via Hong Kong and spoke of the award of a Rhodes Scholarship for China in 2016. He also spoke about Exeter College’s new quadrangle being developed on Walton Street, Cohen Quad. 

Graham Craig, Secretary of Rhodes Scholars Victoria, introduced Sir Rick by outlining his university studies at Brown, Princeton and Oxford where he took his doctorate in Victorian social history. His two decade-long teaching career at the University of Glasgow was followed by his role as an academic leader at the University of Greenwich and King’s College London.

As guest speaker for the evening, Sir Rick addressed the gathering on the topic, ‘Is the UK breaking apart? Does the outcome matter?’ In his speech, he brought to bear 40 years of thinking about the future of the United Kingdom. He showed how the history of the UK can help in understanding recent tumultuous events beginning with an examination of the long term success of the Union with Scotland. He then examined the weaknesses which now put the Union in acute danger.

Simon Lewis, an Exonian and Rhodes Scholar from Zimbabwe, thanked Sir Rick on behalf of those present and spoke about Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1966. He concluded the evening with the toast ’Floreat Exon’ (Let Exeter Flourish).

Graham Craig - OUS Victoria