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Graduations, congratulations, celebrations and other news from Grange Road

Robinson College Newsletter - July 2022

Another academic year has ended at Robinson and it was wonderful to see the students able to enjoy the full Cambridge experience after so long. Hopefully many happy memories made for students and those able to return to graduate and enjoy the festivities. It was also a pleasure to meet with the alumni that attended the recent Donor Day and the opening of the Chandrakala & Mansukhlal Shah Building, the fabulous new home for the Robinson Archive.

Despite it now being the ‘Long Vacation’ it is as busy as ever at College. Major building works are taking place in Long Court, along with the usual schedule of refurbishments and repairs. The College has opened its doors to prospective students to give them a taste of College life (and College food!) and academics are busy with research and other vocational responsibilities. We hope to bring you more news on this later in the summer. In the Development Office we are gearing up for the September Reunion and would love to see as many of you as possible from 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011 at that event, it’s always a fun evening. We are also working on the calendar of events for alumni and plan to bring you a number of opportunities to hear from the academics and network with your peers over the course of the year.

I hope you enjoy this latest update from Robinson. With Dr Duncan Astle and Professor Forsyth both being recognised for their work, and new academics joining our ranks there is a lot to cover in this edition.

With very best wishes,

Catherine Biggs
Deputy Development Director

College News

The new home for Robinson College Archive officially opened

It was wonderful to officially open the Chandrakala & Mansukhlal Shah Building with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, 3 July. Sir Richard Heaton, Warden of Robinson College thanked all donors who made it possible for Robinson to have a new purpose-built home for the College Archive. He expressed special thanks to Ross and Jane Reason, who initiated the building and kickstarted the fundraising campaign with a Leadership gift. Named after the parents of the principal benefactor Mr Hamel Shah (1994, Economics), the ribbon was cut by Mr Shah’s mother Mrs Chandri Shah and Mr Shah’s wife Ms Meredith DePaolo. Mr Kevin Parry OBE (1980, Management Studies) who lent his name to the Reading Room was also present at the ceremony. In his speech he talked about the importance of recording and preserving even the smallest episodes of our lives, whether personal or institutional to enable future generations to trace their consistent development and evolution. The assembled guests toasted this new addition to Robinson College which will protect its history and secure its longevity. The Fellow Archivist, Peter Milloy, then gave a talk on the history of the Robinson Archive, after which the celebrations finished with drinks and afternoon tea. 
If you follow this link you will see a small selection of the photographs taken on the day. You can also read more about the event, including the opening ceremony speeches, on the College's website here,

Donor Day - A big 'Thank you' to all our supporters

Saturday 25 June saw Robinson’s third Donor Day. The event offered a wonderful opportunity to welcome some of the College’s donors and to thank them in person for their support. The day of events allowed them a glimpse of what their generosity had made possible at Robinson, either directly or indirectly. The Warden, who was unable to attend the event himself, recorded a message of thanks, which you can watch here. Dr Kevin Chalut, a Fellow of Robinson College, gave a talk on Using stem cells for tissue regeneration: the promise and the challenges across the life span. This was very well received and brought about a great many questions during the Q & A session. A small selection of photographs of the day can be found here.

Robinson College welcomes future students

Ruth Moss, our Schools’ Liaison Officer, has been extremely busy over the last few weeks organising and running a series of Open Day Events and Residentials. During the first week of July, Robinson welcomed prospective applicants to Open Days with tours of the College, talks from the Directors of Studies and Q&A sessions in the College gardens. 
This year, Robinson hosted an Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Residential for twenty-eight Year 12 students as well as a Biological and Physical Sciences Residential for a similar group. Student residentials allow Year 12 students to experience different aspects of university life, attend lectures given by Robinson Fellows and PhD students on relevant topics, as well as providing some admissions advice and guidance. Students also got to sample formal dining by attending a dinner in the Hall. They also explored the College gardens following a scavenger hunt organised by Robinson undergraduate helpers.

First Law residential course

On 11 to 12 July, Robinson held its first law residential course, generously sponsored by Slaughter and May. The residential course was part of the College’s widening participation programme. We welcomed 12 students from across the UK, all of whom were from backgrounds that do not traditionally apply to Cambridge. 
The students had a varied programme, learning about what it would be like to study Law at Robinson and to work at a commercial law firm. Students heard from Dr Brian Sloan, Fellow of Robinson and Director of Studies in Law, about the law course at Cambridge. Professor Alison Young provided a 'taster' session in Law, looking at the balance between freedom of speech and privacy. 

Partners and trainees from Slaughter and May provided Q and A sessions about life as a city solicitor and ran a negotiation exercise where students had to negotiate a contract. 
There was also an informal dinner, where those attending the residential course were able to chat with members of the College, as well as experiencing a slice of college life. 
Students particularly enjoyed the practical exercises and the ability to ask questions in a friendly and welcoming environment. One participant commented that the course “provided a lot of information in a career that I have no connections to - thank you for the opportunity!” 

We are extremely grateful to Slaughter and May for sponsoring this event and hope to hold more events in the future, providing more students with the opportunity to discover what it is really like to study Law at Cambridge and to work in a large commercial law firm.

Congratulations to Dr Duncan Astle - the first Gnodde Goldman Sachs Professor of Neuroinformatics

Robinson College is delighted to announce that Dr Duncan Astle has been appointed the first Gnodde Goldman Sachs Professor of Neuroinformatics within the Department of Psychiatry. Dr Astle is a Fellow and Director of Studies at Robinson College. He is also a Programme Leader at the University’s MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and a member of the MRC's Neuroscience and Mental Health Board. Dr Astle is recognised for his outstanding innovative methods of analysing neural systems in childhood, and for his research in how they influence developmental disorders and respond to intervention. You can read more about this appointment and Dr Astle’s work here.

Photograph: Michael Chapman

Goodbye and welcome - a new Director of Choral Music

The College has appointed a new Director of Choral Music, Mr Will Sims. Mr Sims will take over from Simon Brown who retired after seven years in the post and whose enthusiasm and passion for music will be sorely missed. Mr Sims, previously Director of Music at University College, Durham will start in September. He has sung in the choirs of Lincoln and Peterborough Cathedrals for three years and is the current Associate Musical Director of the Lincoln Chorale. In November 2021 Mr Sims was awarded the prestigious Gerald Knight Memorial Prize for Choral Conducting by the Royal College of Organists. We look forward to welcoming him to Robinson College.


Congratulations to Professor Forsyth

We are proud to announce that an entry for Professor Christopher Forbes Forsyth has been added to the Eminent Scholars Archive. Professor Forsyth, Fellow of Robinson College since 1983, was appointed the inaugural Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law in 2016. He is now the Emeritus Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law. In a series of three interviews he talks about the implementation of Roman-Dutch Law to the political and legal aspect of lives in South Africa as well as his engagement in the Cambridgeshire policing matters and Parliamentary Committees, to mention just a few of the roles he has played over the years. You can listen to the interviews and read more about the illustrious career and life of Professor Forsyth here.

Dante 'unveiled' in the College Gardens

On July 5, 2022, a reception was held in the gardens to celebrate the arrival of a new work of art. A statue of Dante Alighieri is now to be found in the garden of 2 Adams Road. This statue was presented to the College by its eminent sculptor, Timothy Schmalz. The event included readings from Dante’s Commedia, in both English and Italian, the singing of two of the psalms that are of central importance in Dante’s text and a short address introducing Dante’s work and its sculptural representation by Professor Robin Kirkpatrick, a Life Fellow and Emeritus Professor of English and Italian Literature. You can read more about the ceremony and explore the details of the programme here.

Improvements in the College for current and future students

In a never-ending programme to preserve and improve the fabric of our College for future generations of students and scholars, major maintenance and refurbishment works have been ongoing since 11 July. Works to waterproof the kitchen area, the catering stores and offices aim to reduce/stop disruption to the catering services caused by water breaching the paved areas in Long Court and finding its way to the working areas below. 
The water ingress works have also provided an opportunity to tackle the long-overdue office refurbishments in Long Court. 4 Adams Road is also being refurbished this year. Works will include a new heating system, IT upgrades, fire detection improvements and overall general refurbishment. All works form part of the 15-year improvements and refurbishment plans. It is thanks to the support received from donations and gifts to the College’s Discretionary Fund that we are able to carry out the annual maintenance programmes in order to futureproof our home.


Notes from the College Archive

The Robinson College Archive runs a blog Notes from the College Archive from The Chandrakala & Mansukhlal Shah Building on Adams Road. In the blog our archivists present the most interesting stories contained in the numerous boxes of archive materials. It might be a profile of a distinguished member of our Fellowship, or a student event, such as the May Ball, or some fascinating tales that can be found in the papers bequeathed for perpetuity to the College Archives for the pleasure and interest of future generations. You can read some of those stories here.

Bin Brook Readership Survey

Over the past few months we have asked you to share with us your opinions and suggestions on the content of Bin Brook. We would like to hear from as many Robinsonians as possible. So, if you haven’t already, please complete our short Readership Survey here. Thank you for all the submissions we have received so far. The latest issue of Bin Brook is available online here.

Robinson College Record poll

We know that not everyone wishes to receive a paper copy of Robinson College Record and we are making provisions for that. However, for those Robinsonians who prefer to obtain a physical copy, we would like to continue offering it. In order to ensure that everyone receives this College publication in their preferred format (digital or paper), we are conducting a short poll which enables you to make your choice. Please complete this short poll here. Thank you.

Upcoming College Events

Reunion Dinner, Saturday 24 September 2022

Robinson College is looking forward to welcoming those who matriculated in 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011 and their guests to the September Reunion on Saturday, 24 September. It is time to book your participation now. Please follow this link. Some of you will be celebrating 40 years since their matriculation. We encourage anyone from 1981 vintage to send us stories and memories of your time at Robinson. Photographs are always welcome. When you send  your photographs, please let us know that you are happy for us to use them in College publications and promotions. Thank you. We cannot wait to read your recollections of Robinson and its people from ... some time ago. Please email us at
If you have not received your invitation by now, please contact us as soon as possible by email at 

2022 University of Cambridge Alumni Festival, Friday 23 - Sunday, 25 September

At this year’s Cambridge Alumni Festival, Gordon Davies (1991, Classics), a resident on the site of the former gas works in Cambridge, presents in his aerial odyssey, the ever-changing cityscape of Cambridge: its constant development and re-development over the past hundred years. Book that particular session of the 2022 Alumni Festival here and join the fascinating journey into the past, present and future of Cambridge and its wards.

Be sure to add our email address to your address book so our emails get to your inbox:

You can update your contact details here.

The Robinson shop is open

The Robinson College online shop offers a variety of College souvenirs to treat a friend or yourself with a memento of your relationship with Robinson College. Browse the catalogue for cuff links, mugs or glasses, not forgetting our Robinson Teddy Bear. Enjoy your shopping!



With very best wishes from all at Robinson,

Sarah, Catherine, Helen and Norbert
Robinson College Development Office

The aerial photograph of Robinson College: credit Spotyphoto