2010 North American Reunion

2010 Reunion Weekend Summary

Oxford University’s North American Reunion took place Friday 16 April and Saturday 17 April for all North American alumni and friends.  The weekend began on Friday with an opening drinks reception in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria hotel.  The Chancellor of the University was the key note speaker with the Vice-Chancellor and other University leadership present.  Most colleges were also represented in the Ballroom.

After the drinks reception, the board of Americans for Oxford hosted a dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street.  The dinner included a musical performance by three members of the Christ Church Music Society as well as the presentation of the Sheldon Medal to Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman.  The Chancellor presented them with the medal in honor of their $50 million donation to Christ Church.

Saturday commenced with informal breakfast gatherings hosted by the Heads of Oxford’s four academic divisions and the department of continuing education.  The program continued with a plenary session, “Magna Carta @ 800”.  The session featured Dr. Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian and Richard Ovenden, Keeper of Special Collections and Associate Director of the Bodleian Library, who reviewed the history of the document, the historical context surrounding its creation, and its lasting impact upon our world.  The session also included Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (Magdalen, 1959), Professor A. E. Dick Howard (Christ Church, 1958), and Professor Owen Fiss. 

The next academic session included Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Op-Ed columnist (Magdalen College, 1981) and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.  The panel was moderated by Professor Margaret MacMillan, Warden of St Antony’s.  The session, titled “Half the Sky,” argued that the most effective way to fight global poverty and insecurity is to educate and empower women. 

Lunch followed, including a question and answer session with the Vice-Chancellor led by Ms. Chrystia Freeland, Global Editor-at-Large for Thomson Reuters (St Antony’s College, 1993).  This was the Vice Chancellor’s first Reunion, and guests were able to hear about his plans for the University’s future, and ask their own questions.  The Distinguished Friend of Oxford award was presented during lunch by the Chancellor to Michael A. Boyd (The Queen’s College, 1958) and Robert G. McKelvey (Merton College, 1959) for their continued support of Oxford.

Unfortunately, the volcanic eruption in Iceland made it impossible for Professor Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology to travel to New York.  His panel “Sleep and Circadian Rhythms” was cancelled and Professor Tiffany Stern’s session, “Shakespeare on Page and Stage” was moved to the afternoon slot.   Professor Stern examined Shakespeare’s texts from the point of view of the actors for whom he wrote, in particular, Shakespearean rehearsal, asking how practical staging issues affected the construction of early modern playtexts. 

In conjunction with “Shakespeare on Page and Stage,” was “Oxford and Public Policy: Accomplishments and Potential.”  Despite its lack of a School of Public Policy, Oxford has a long and rich tradition of educating generations of leaders in government and public life.  Professor Ngaire Woods, Fellow in Politics and International Relations at University College and Director of the Global Economic Governance Programme, lead a discussion focusing on what Oxford has done, and could do, in this important area.  Professor Roger Goodman introduced the panel and Michael Elliott, Editor of TIME International (Worcester, 1972) joined Professor Woods on the panel. 

The final discussion, “Is Democracy Exportable” was moderated by Mark Whitaker, Senior Vice President for NBC News (Balliol, 1979) with the Chancellor and Dr. Eugene Rogan, Faculty Fellow and University Lecturer in the Modern History of the Middle East at St Antony’s College speaking.  This panel, which included the Chancellor of the University, Lord Patten of Barnes, considered whether or not democracy is strictly a Western principle and if efforts to foster its spread are likely to succeed.

The Vice-Chancellor concluded the sessions with closing remarks and invited all Reunion attendees to a drinks reception hosted by the Oxford University Society.  Numerous college and departmental events took place Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Despite the volcanic ash that halted all flights to and from the UK for days, we hosted over 500 alumni and friends throughout the weekend.  The Reunion events were a great success thanks to all the speakers and guests!

To view the weekend program, click here.

To listen to the Vice Chancellor's talk with Chrystia Freeland (St Antony's College, 1993) at the North American Reunion, click here.



Professor A. E. Dick Howard (Christ Church, 1958), Professor Owen Fiss, and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (Magdalen College, 1959) at the 2010 North American Reunion.