In recent years the ancient title of Fellow Commoner has been revived to allow us to elect interesting and prominent people from different fields who are not academics but who have something valuable to contribute to College life.
This is a one year appointment of someone who has achieved success and recognition in their own field but who is not an academic. Their role is to bring a different perspective to the community of Fellows and students, to offer advice, talks, workshops and to join in the life of the College while they hold the title. Past Fellow Commoners have included a political journalist, the CEO and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a theatre director, an entrepreneur and a television foreign correspondent and human rights activist. Each has offered interest, advice and introductions from their particular area of expertise that has enriched the College in different ways. The Fellow Commoner dines with the Fellows at High Table and is encouraged to meet with the students and offer them support, information and advice.
Anyone interested in the post should contact the Master’s office in the first instance. Applications should be submitted to the Master’s Office by the beginning of the Easter Term (10 April in 2016) for the academic year following. The titleholder is normally elected by the Governing Body in May.
|The first post holder was Simon Heffer, political journalist and author, who organised talks with visiting politicians and mentored students on careers in journalism and political writing. Simon was followed by Tim Walker and Rita Bellamy-James. Tim is the CEO and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and gave talks to students on musical careers, auditioned performers, offered advice on performance and frequently gave free tickets to concerts.|
|Rita is a barrister specialising in children’s cases. She gave talks and mentored students on related areas of law. Tim and Rita were followed by Julius Green, theatre director and Agatha Christie specialist. Julius worked with the Fletcher Players and other students interested in drama, and directed a performance for Old Members of a Christie play including Old Members in the cast. After Julius we had Brian Deutsch, an entrepreneur with a special interest in manuscripts and rare books. Brian worked in the Parker Library, creating an animation of the Matthew Parris elephant in the Parker Library.|
|The current Fellow Commoner is Tim Sebastian, former BBC correspondent in Warsaw, Moscow and Washington, and founder and presenter of the BBC’s flagship interview programme Hardtalk. Tim presented Hardtalk for 7 years, interviewing some of the most prominent people in the world. Today he is a freelance presenter and interviewer, with a weekly interview programme on the English service of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster of a world leader or an important politician. His recent interviews include Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, and Supreme Commander of NATO Philip M Breedlove. Tim also moderates debates in the Arab world and writes novels. At the beginning of his Fellowship he organised and presented a War Game with a panel of experts confronted with a fictitious but highly plausible scenario. This proved immensely popular with students and alumni. Tim is currently holding workshops on television interviewing with the students and plans to work with them on various journalism projects.|