Alumni inspired by latest research, debates and tours at bumper Alumni Weekend

More than 1,100 alumni returned to Oxford to take part in an action-packed three days of lectures, receptions and hands-on activities.

The ninth annual Alumni Weekend showcased research and exciting new developments from across the University at more than 100 events. The need for better evidence and informed decision-making in healthcare was discussed by Dr Ben Goldacre and other speakers at a lively session. The Chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, shared his thoughts on the troubled relationship between politics and identity at another popular event.

Highlights also included a reception at the transformed Weston Library, and singing by the New College Choir at Keble College Chapel.

View the gallery from the Weekend

Many alumni also saw the wonders of the night sky as part of the sold-out telescope tours. Others played chess against a grandmaster, enjoyed a tutored wine tasting, and put their horticultural questions to a panel of college head gardeners.

Alumnus John Gelling (Keble, 1959, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Secretary of Oxford's West Kent alumni group), said: “I really enjoyed the varied activities throughout the Alumni Weekend. Visiting the redesigned and refurbished Weston Library was an opportunity to marvel at the new facility. It is very different from the PPE library I remember of the postwar years. I was also moved by the frank delivery and originality of the lecture by Lord Patten, Chancellor of the University. The tour of Keble’s quads and gardens was another highlight, especially as alumni were given sample seeds to take home and plant as memories of their visit to Oxford.”

More than 50 branch officers from Oxford’s alumni groups worldwide, including Mr Gelling, participated in the Alumni Volunteer Leadership Conference (pictured, above) on 18 September – the first day of the Alumni Weekend. They came from across the globe, including from the United States, Australia and Ghana, to share best practice about how to involve alumni in their activities.

Dr Julia Makris (St Anne’s, 1975, DPhil Social Anthropology) travelled from Paris to be at the event. She said: “For branch officers like myself the Alumni Weekend is the perfect occasion to keep abreast of developments in the University, and better understand the current education landscape that potential and future students must navigate.

“I also really like meeting and sharing experiences and best practices with branch officers from different parts of the world. This year we had many fruitful discussions about our respective activities, especially in the digital realm.”

Sam Tolley, (St Hugh’s, 1987, Zoology), secretary of Oxford's Gloucestershire alumni group, added: “The Alumni Weekend programme, as expected, was of global appeal and highlighted the continuing academic excellence of the University. It spoke to the passion alumni have for lifelong learning, in their original subject and the broader canvas of contemporary issues such as Politics and Identity, Harms in Healthcare and much more.

“As important, for me, was the opportunity not just to reminisce, but to see and experience things that I had not seen or done before, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones from the expanding global alumni network. Whether it was enjoying a gin tasting in Christ Church’s SCR, listening to New College Choir or visiting Keble Chapel and seeing The Light of the World by Holman Hunt for the first time, there was something for everyone.”

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