Insight on Ukraine and other stories

Robinson College News, February 2022

Dear Robinsonians,

On the day of the invasion of Ukraine, Robinson Fellow Rory Finnin shares his opinion on the crisis and offers a view on what prompted Russian agression. The conflict has sparked political and humanitarian concern across the globe, and we are fortuate to have such an expert within our ranks.

The weather has also been pugnacious this month but fortunately Robinson's ramparts withstood the batterings of recent storms, which inflicted only minor damage to our beloved trees. I hope your experience of Dudley and Eunice has been similarly benign.

Like the rest of Cambridge, Robinson celebrated LGBTQ History Month in February by raising the rainbow flag. We were delighted to congratulate Brigadier Clare Phillips (Computer Science, 1991) on her belated CBE award ceremony for 27 years of promoting diversity and inclusion in the British Army.

I hope you enjoy reading more about these stories, and others, below and look forward to seeing you in person at one of the events we have planned for the spring and beyond

With very best wishes,

Sarah Westwood
Development Director and Fellow


The Ukraine crisis explained

With the Russian Federation on the brink of invading Ukraine, Dr Rory Finnin, Fellow and Associate Professor of Ukrainian Studies, puts the current crisis in historical and regional context, offering warnings and sources of hope for this volatile and geopolitically pivotal part of the world.

Dr Finnin explains why, in the realm of political values, Ukraine is not Russia’s cousin but her competitor; and why the West needs to work harder to recognise the complexity and importance of the Black Sea region. Watch the full interview here.

Governing Victims: Professor Pamela Cox delivers the Robinson Lecture

After a break of two years, Robinson College had the pleasure of hosting the annual Robinson Lecture on 2 February. This year our guest speaker was alumna Pamela Cox (History, 1989), Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex.

In her lecture, Professor Cox drew on her interdisciplinary study on victims’ access to justice in England and Wales over centuries. She traced the shifts in how and why the state sought to ‘govern victims’ by encouraging, yet also by managing, the flow of their participation in the justice system over that time. You can read more about Professor Cox’s research here.

Sir David Robinson’s birthday present

The miniature silver model of Robinson College occupies a special place in the College’s Silver Collection. Created by the jewellery maker, Vicky Amber-Smith for Sir David Robinson’s eightieth birthday, it depicts the key architectural features of the building, including the main entrance, the chapel, and part of the Domus. Nearly 40 years later the artist and the model are reunited for a short while. Read the story of the Robinson silver model and its creator here.

Celebrating our creative legacy: our Member’s Collection has two new items

Robinson College is proud of the intellectual and creative output of its community. One of the ways of recording and celebrating Robinsonians presence amongst authors and editors is the Members’ Collection at the Library.

Emeritus Fellow, the late Dr Stephen Trudgill, has had his last book, Why Conserve Nature? Perspectives on Meanings and Motivations published by Cambridge University Press and a copy of is now available at Robinson Member’s Collection in the Library. Another book has joined the collection this month, Oslo or The Whale Whose Tail Looked a Bit Like a Wellington Boot, a children’s book written by alumnus Stephen Bench-Capon (MML, 2005). You can watch Stephen read the first chapter here.

If you’re thinking about donating your recently published book to the College Library, please contact the College Librarian at .

Photo credit: Sarah Rawlinson

Emeritus Fellow, Professor Mick Brown has published a biographical memoir

Professor Mick Brown, Robinson Emeritus Fellow in Physics has published a Biographical Memoir of Professor Trevor Evans for the Royal Society. Professor Evans demonstrated how the disposition of nitrogen in natural diamonds reveals secrets of their geological history and indeed may determine their value in pounds sterling, regardless of how brilliantly they may shine! You can read more about Professor Brown’s new publication here.


Professor Richard Needs Retirement

Richard Needs (Natural Sciences (Physics), 1980), Professor of Theoretical and Computational Physics, retired at the end of September 2021. Professor Needs, Robinson alumnus and Fellow in Natural Sciences (Physical) devised computer models of materials at the quantum level and used them to predict their behaviour. He and his group developed the now widely used “CASINO” quantum Monte Carlo code. You can read more about Professor Needs and his work here.


From the College Chapel: ‘The Calls of Nature’ Sundays, until 13 March

Don’t miss the March ‘The Call of Nature’ Series to discuss the relationship between Nature and humans, every Sunday from 6pm at the College Chapel, followed by the fantastic performance of our College Choir. You are also welcomed to join the College congregation for Regular Chapel Services and Feast Days and Special Events. See the Lent Term cards here.

Meet the Warden - Thursday, 3 March

If you live in continental Europe or the Americas, you will have a chance to meet our new Warden, Sir Richard Heaton and ask him questions at a virtual meeting on 3 March at 6 pm (CET), 12 pm (EST) or 9 am (PST). Sir Richard will introduce himself and talk about his first five months as the College Warden. Book your space here. If you wish to send your questions in advance, please email us.

Reunion Dinner - Saturday, 26 March

If you matriculated in 1986, 1996 or 2006, or if you have attended a March Alumni Open Weekend in the past and you’d like to come back, you have until 7 March to book your seat at the Reunion Dinner table for our Saturday, 26 March Book Reunion weekend here and look forward to seeing your friends and peers at Robinson. If you have not received your invitation by now, please get in touch as soon as possible by email.

2022 Alumni Forum: '1.5 to stay alive… Is Net Zero possible?' - Saturday, 26 March 

Chaired by alumna Thea Sherer (Social and Political Sciences, 1998) this year’s Alumni Forum will focus on the topic of Net Zero: is it possible to meet this ambitious goal and keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees C? A group of Robinson Alumni working in the fields of sustainability, carbon offsetting and sustainability legislature will lead the discussion followed by a Q&A session. Read more about the event and register your participation here.

Varsity Matches – Saturday, 2 April

Rugby returns to Twickenham. Join your fellow alumni at the Varsity Matches on Saturday 2 April. Book your tickets now at £40 each by following this link. Bookings will close on Monday, 28 February. Access to the Varsity Gathering in the Rose Suite is included in the price of the ticket. Twickenham Stadium and its hospitality suites open at 11:30 with kicks off at 12:30 (Women’s) and at 15:30 (Men’s).


The Warden's London Reception - Tuesday, 5 April

We are delighted to invite you to join Sir Richard Heaton at the Conservatory Terrace of the Barbican Centre on Thursday 5th April. Invitations will be going out very soon. In his first few months as Warden Sir Richard has meet some of the members of the Robinson community but he looks forward to meeting as many Robinsonians as possible in London. Photo credit: The Barbican

A “coming of age” celebration of Maths at Robinson – Sunday, 1 May 2022

Dr Chris Warner, Robinson College Fellow and Director of Studies in Mathematics is celebrating his 21 years at Robinson. He is inviting all the Mathematics College Members to his annual “Robinson College World Famous Mathematics Barbeque” that will be held in the College. You can expect like “at home” barbecue, a mix of Dance/House music and a lot of fun. Put the date of 1 May in your diaries. Please let us know if you are likely to attend by email. Nearer the time we will email Robinson mathematicians a link to book their place.

York Alumni Get-together

We are planning to hold an Alumni Get-together in the historic city of York on 7th May. We hope to gather local Robinsonians for wine tasting, lunch, and plenty of catching up at Chopping Block  at Walmgate Ale House. Save the date of 7th May in your diary. Look out for an invitation in your mailbox. This York Alumni Get-together will be a great opportunity to catch up with other Robinsonians in the area.

 Photo credit: Michael D. Beckwith, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

May Ball – Friday, 17 June

This year Robinson College will be transformed into a magical place oozing with the splendour of the XIXth century Parisian cabaret nightlife. Welcome to Moulin Rouge! May Balls have been the College’s tradition for nearly forty years with the first full blows May Ball, the Barefoot Ball, held in 1984. Be part of that tradition and join us in the whole night fun. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here
The May Ball Committee is also seeking sponsorship. If you would like to learn more about their sponsorship packages please email the Committee.

The Robinson shop is open

If you feel nostalgic or just wish to treat yourself or your friend to a cute teddy bear, a pair of cufflinks, or a pair of port glasses and a bottle of College port, please visit the Robinson College online shop. Browse the catalogue and take your pick. Enjoy!


With very best wishes from all at Robinson,

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