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The following speech was delivered by THE PUBLIC ORATOR in a Congregation held on Saturday, 3 March 2001, in presenting for the Honorary Degree of Master of Arts


Cum plurima sint et nobis et Academiae felicitatis indicia, tum hoc haud minimum esse duxeritis, quod haec urbs aedificiis abundat et pulcherrimis et vetustissimis, quorum celebritate ex toto orbe terrarum peregrinatores adliciuntur detinentur delectantur. equidem haud dubito quin recte senserit deus ille philosophorum Plato, qui iuvenum mentes tum denique dicat bene recteque formari, cum species venustas atque ipsius divinae pulchritudinis simulacra tueantur: sic enim impelli ad veritatis splendorem venerandum adque virtutis possessionem consequendam. quae si vera sunt, nemo erit qui plus adulescentium formationi conferat quam qui urbis in qua educantur amoenitati consulat. itaque obscurum non est quare Academia nostra hunc quem produco honestare decreverit. triginta fere anni sunt ex quo hic huius urbis conservationi praesidet, grande mortalis aevi spatium, quo magistratu ita functus est ut se antiquitatis studiosissimum praebuerit, qui monumenta conservet, aedificiorum diu dilapsorum vestigia indaget, libros conscribat (doctos, Iuppiter et laboriosos), quibus priorem urbis nostrae architecturam nobis imperitioribus exponit atque explicat. quare merito Societatis hominum antiquitatis studio deditorum Sodalis iamdudum factus est. nemo fere ignorat tempus quoddam fuisse quo Academiae et urbis rationes haud raro discreparint, exstitisse nonnumquam simultates. hoc moderante adeo restituta est concordia, adeo amicitia, ut ipse pari gratia atque auctoritate apud nos homines academicos floreat qua apud suos aediles et apparitores. huic praecipue acceptum referimus quod praeclara huius urbis pulchritudo tot maculis purgata tamque dedita opera defensa urbibus ceteris, ut debet, antecellit, visitantibus admirationem, curiosis doctrinam, incolis vitam ornatam felicemque profitetur. ne longius quaeramus, cum propinquas Musarum aedes laudabilem in modum et restauravit et restaurat, tum Bibliothecae amplissimae receptaculum intimum, exquisito professorum doctorumque otio fere consecratum, ita reficiendum curavit ut praemio Europaeo iure sit nobilitatus.

Praesento Iohannem Harvey Ashdown, architecturae nostrae indagatorem impigerrimum, scriptorem doctissimum, conservatorem valentissimum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Magistri in Artibus.

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Among the many advantages enjoyed by this University it may be thought not the least that the city of Oxford is so rich in magnificent old buildings. They are famous, and they attract and delight visitors from all over the world. The great philosopher Plato maintained that beautiful surroundings are of the highest importance for the education of the young; the contemplation of beautiful things, which reflect timeless and absolute beauty, trains the mind to aspire to the love of truth and the attainment of virtue. If there is value in that view, then there can be no more significant role to be played in education than that of ensuring that its setting is splendid. So we see why Oxford University has decided to honour Mr Ashdown. He has been City Conservation Officer for nearly thirty years, a large fraction of a man's whole career; in that important position he has shown himself to be devoted to the study and the preservation of the past. He has been active in research on the buildings of the city, both in the medieval period and later, and he has published important works on the subject, with a talent for explaining them to the layman. He was deservedly elected many years ago to a Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries. It is well known that there have been times when relations between the City and the University were difficult, and serious differences used to exist between them. In Mr Ashdown's period of office harmony and good feeling have been restored, and he has enjoyed the same respect and affection among academics as among the representatives of the City. It is largely thanks to him that Oxford has been so well restored and maintained. It has maintained its rightful place at the head of British cities, offering fine sights to the tourist, solid instruction to the serious student, and to the citizens a fine place to live. We need look no further for examples of his work than the Museum of Science, where restoration is still in progress, and the Bodleian Library, where his recent refurbishment of Duke Humfrey has been recognised with an Europa Nostra award.

I present John Harvey Ashdown, active in research of our architectural history, prolific in its published elucidation, and influential in its preservation, for the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

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The Board of Management of the Heath Harrison Fund has awarded 2001 Junior Travelling Scholarships as follows:

L. ASCROFT, St John's (German)

R.J. BAKER, Oriel (French)

M. BELCHER, St Edmund Hall (Russian)

S.D. BOOTLE, Christ Church (French)

C.A. BURKE, Brasenose (French)

N.K. CHAUHAN, St Anne's (German)

C.M. DEFOSSE, Queen's (Spanish)

R.J. HANSON, Keble (French)

C.M. HARRISON, St Hilda's (German)

H. KHANBHAI, Magdalen (French)

P.S. KILLINGLEY, Brasenose (Spanish)

L.A. KIRKLEY, Exeter (French)

E.J. KNIGHT, St John's (French)

R.R. MARCUS, Magdalen (French)

Z.O. SAWDRY, St Catherine's (French)

S.G.A. WOOLER, Hertford (French)

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Call for volunteers to learn Chinese

The Institute for Chinese Studies is looking for volunteers from within the University with no knowledge of Chinese to participate in training in the four language skills of reading, speaking, listening, and writing. The second session, for training in speaking skills, will run from 23 April to 20 July. Participants will be required to commit themselves to a total of 97.5 contact hours during this session, involving one-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week, over thirteen weeks in total. The classes will take place at 5 p.m. every day during full term at the Institute for Chinese Studies, Walton Street, but these times could be adjusted during the summer vacation period of acceptable to all participants. Members of the University with no knowledge of Mandarin who wish to learn Chinese speaking skills are welcome to participate in this project. Numbers will be limited to fifteen participants.

Those interested should e-mail to:

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Musical events

The following musical events will take place at the times shown in the Auditorium, St John's College.

Admission to each concert is free. Programmes will be available from the Porters' Lodge at St John's, but are reserved for members of the college until about ten days before the event. Each programme will be valid as an admission ticket until the last ten minutes before the event starts; then any vacant seats will be filled from the door.

Sun. 29 Apr., 8.30 p.m.: Beethoven's Septet, and Schubert's Octet, performed by MARK PESKANOV (violin), CAROLINE WOLFF (violin), ROGER CHASE (viola), COLIN CARR (cello), CHRISTIAN GELDSETZER (bass), ANTHONY PAY (clarinet), RICHARD WATKINS (horn), and URSULA LEVAUX (bassoon).

Mon. 30 Apr., 10 a.m.: master-class with MARK PESKANOV.

Sun. 13 May, 8.30 p.m.: THE SCHIDLOF STRING QUARTET perform Haydn, op. 71; Shostakovitch, no. 1, op. 49; and Brahms, op. 67.

Mon. 28 May, 8.30 p.m.: THE BRENTANO STRING QUARTET perform Stravinsky, Three Pieces; Mozart, `Dissonance' K.465; Webern, Six Bagatelles, op. 9; and Mendelssohn, op. 12.

Tue. 29 May, 10 a.m.: master-class with THE BRENTANO STRING QUARTET.


Chamber groups or performing soloists receive coaching in front of an informal audience. There is no charge, either for performers or for audience. Any performers wishing to take advantage of this opportunity to obtain free coaching should apply via the College Secretary as soon as possible.

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