Robinson College News
May 2021

New horizons for Robinson College: An update from Grange Road


Robinson announces the appointment of new Warden

Earlier this month we were delighted to announce the election of Sir Richard Heaton as our new Warden, following Professor David Yates’ 20 years of service in the role. Sir Richard joins Robinson after a distinguished civil service career during which he worked in departments across government, focusing particularly on justice, the constitution and human rights.

Sir Richard takes up the role of Warden at a pivotal moment in Robinson’s history, as the College prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2027. Sir Richard will help define Robinson’s agenda for the next half century and beyond, building on its pioneering roots as the first Cambridge college to be founded as co-educational, offering superb educational opportunities to all.

Sir Richard will take on his new role on 1 October. On his appointment Sir Richard said: “Getting to know Robinson College has been a huge pleasure, and I am delighted and humbled to have been elected as its next and third Warden, following the long and immensely distinguished tenure of Professor David Yates. Robinson has a reputation for friendliness, which I have already discovered from many conversations with staff, students and Fellows to be entirely well-founded. Building on its proud and relatively short history, it is also clear that Robinson has a limitless future as a modern, academically excellent, inclusive and happy college in the Cambridge tradition.” Read more here.

Alumni, Fellows and staff share stories for Mental Health Awareness Week

To recognise Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May), alumni, Fellows and staff of Robinson College shared their stories. They touched on a wide variety of topics: research into children’s brain development, a study of our lockdown dreams, anxiety disorders, our responses to crisis, a wellbeing platform, the College nurse and mental health first aider, the role of the arts in mental health, and an interview with the author of ‘McMindfulness’. See Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.  

What can we do better? – The New Alumni Survey 2021

Lockdown has been a time of reflection for many of us, and here at Robinson it’s no different. As we plan for post-Covid recovery, we want to hear from you our alumni community about what we can do better, what you’d like to see more or less of, what sorts of events and topics appeal and how often you’d like to hear from us. Spare us 5 minutes, fill in the survey and win a prize.

The winner of the 2021 Pilkington Prize

Congratulations to Dr Nikhil Krishnan, Fellow of Robinson College and Director of Studies in Philosophy who is one of only thirteen academics at the University of Cambridge who have been awarded the 2021 Pilkington Prize for outstanding teaching by The Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning. The virtual awards ceremony is planned to take place on Tuesday 29 June. The Pilkington Prize awards were inaugurated in 1994 and endowed by Sir Alastair Pilkington to acknowledge excellence in teaching. Twelve prizes are awarded annually by the Vice-Chancellor to individuals who make a substantial contribution to the teaching programme of a Department, Faculty or the University as a whole. Read more about the 2021 winners here.

You can learn more about the Pilkington Prize, the winners from previous years as well as about the Nomination Process on The Pilkington Prize webpage.

Lifetime Contribution Award for modernising philanthropy

Fran Perrin OBE (SPS, 1998) was awarded the Lifetime Contribution to Philanthropy Award by Global Philanthropic. The Award celebrates unique and inspiring leaders in the philanthropic community across the globe, people who create change and make positive impact. Fran, who established her philanthropic foundation Indigo Trust back in 1999, has been distinguished for her relentless work on improving other people’s lives by enabling them to change their own lives. Congratulations ! You can read more about this award and other awardees in the category of Outstanding Young Leader here.


UK Constitutional Reform – Westminster or Whitehall?

Professor Alison Young, a Fellow and the Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law gave the annual Harry Street lecture in Manchester organised by the School of Social Sciences of the University of Manchester. Here Professor Young looks at the separation of powers, its reflection in the current UK Constitution and the constitutional reforms. She poses a question whether with those we are moving in the wrong direction. The recording of this lecture can be watched here. More information about the lecture series can be found here.


Robinsonians Rally to support Research

In March this year, Robinson launched a campaign to raise funds to create a new scholarship to help under-represented students continue their study at Master’s level. For many gifted students, finance proves to be a barrier that prevents them from continuing their studies and contributing to society through their research.

Over £168,000 in gifts and pledges has been raised so far, and with just over £31,000 needed in order to create the first scholarship. We hope to be able to award the first means-tested Professor David Yates Master’s Scholarship to a student in 2022. With very generous match-funding incentives in place, there has never been a better time to support Robinson students and research.

Read here how funding made it possible for Robinson student Asif to not only continue his studies, but help others whilst doing so. 

A pure luxury - oxygen

“People might once have considered oxygen a human right. The pandemic has revealed that access to oxygen – in a pure form, for medical use – is a luxury in most low and middle-income countries.” Robinson Fellow in Chemical Engineering Dr David Fairen-Jimenez in his article published in The Conversation entitled Medical oxygen should not be a luxury – we’re trying to develop a cheaper way to produce it” looks at the studies which look into ways of producing medical oxygen more cheaply. Read this article here.

Open mic nights with Brickhouse Theatre Company

Owing to the pandemic, the Brickhouse Theatre Company has gone online and has hosted three virtual Open Mic Nights during Easter term. Each episode contains a range of performances by students of Robinson as well as other Cambridge Colleges including original comedy sketches, stand-up, poetry readings and musical theatre songs. You can watch Open Mic Nights here.

The Company is also funding a few shows in the ADC Theatre and Corpus Playroom, one of which Permanent Marker was written by a Robinson student, Claudia Vyvyan (Education, 2020) . Read more about the activities of the Brickhouse Theatre Company here and view the Easter 2021 Term card.

Book Bridges: the journey through the Robinson collection continues

College Librarian Ms Judith Brown continues her journey of discovery around the Robinson library collection and would like you to join her on that fascinating trip uncovering new facts from the College’s past, about its members and their lives. Follow Judith’s explorations, which will be coming to their last stop very soon, on the College website and Twitter. The most recent bridges cross, amongst others, the lives of Dr Noel Jospeh Terence Montgomery Needham, one of the Trustees Robinson College and whose Research Institute found a permanent home in te grounds of Robinson College and Eileen Power, a medievalist and economic historian, who lived in the purpose-built house at 2 Sylvester Road.


Film and Television Production Workshop 5 May (student event, by invitation only)

Hosted by Brickhouse Theatre Company and Robinson College Alumni Film and Television Group (RAFT), a group of Robinson students had a unique opportunity to get together with TV Development Assistant Producer, Film Production Assistant and Robinson alumna Anna Keeley (MML, 2014) to talk about how she broke into the industry and how they could do the same. Read more about this workshop and Anna’s work here.


The Asia and Pacific Warden’s Farewell Event

On 13 May in the Zoom space, the Asia Pacific alumni and friends gathered to say farewell to the Warden and to celebrate Professor Yates’ achievements during his 20-year tenure. Although the pandemic prevented us from visiting Asia Pacific in person, we could not let Professor Yates step down without an opportunity for farewells both to and from this very special part of the Robinson worldwide community.

We were honoured to have Adrian Li (Law, 1992) as event chair and host for the evening, which featured contributions from local alumni and friends. A lively Q&A session included questions about online examinations, admissions, future development of Robinson, and the Warden’s plans for retirement. Alumni and friends in Asia Pacific wished the Warden well and looked forward to hearing more about the College’s future plans. Video tributes from the attendees of this event and the recording of the event itself can be viewed here.


Donor Report 2020

Find out more about the impact of your gifts in our 2020 Donor Report. Find it here.

With very best wishes from all at Robinson,

Sarah, Catherine, Liz, Helen, Helen and Norbert
Robinson College Development Office