Sidney celebrates the 10-year mastership of Professor Dame Sandra Dawson with a number of special events:


Saturday, 25 April, 7pm: Master's Farewell Dinner, hosted by the Sidney Sussex Society.

Saturday, 16 May, 5pm: Concert in Sidney Chapel with Sidney Choir and musicians, Fretwork and soloists.

Saturday, 6 June: Fellows' Dinner in Hall for Sandra and Henry

Saturday, 20 June, afternoon and evening: Arts & Music Festival in the Master's Garden. See


Here follows the Vice-Master's tribute to Dame Sandra from the recent issue of the Pheon:

And still she governs with the mildest sway. [John Keats, Sleep and Poetry (1817)]

Wherever you are in the world on 19th August, 2009, pause for a moment and think of Sidney. On that day, fixed by the terms of the College Statutes, the Mastership of Professor Dame Sandra Dawson will end after ten years whose many successes crowd into the mind. The Fellowship of the College grew considerably, and there were times when Sidney outperformed all other colleges of the University in some subjects, including Natural Sciences, History and English. Contacts with alumni and alumnae throughout the world were enhanced, and the 1596 Foundation, with the Master as the ex officio President, attracted many new members. The Fellows were mindful of such achievements, and of the need to carry them forward when, last Michaelmas Term, they elected as their twenty-sixth Master Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill.

Although Sandra’s tenure is by no means over, this issue of Pheon offers an opportunity to glance briefly back and forth through the years. To begin with the Fellowship, one can say that many new Fellows were attracted to Sidney during Sandra’s decade. By careful planning and consultation with her various Senior Tutors, she helped the College recruit for subjects long under-staffed, and with results that can already be measured in terms of Tripos success. These and other appointments are in part a tribute to the College’s continuing fame for good humour, but that reputation is also founded on the wisdom and hospitality of the Masters, a tradition that Sandra, ably assisted by her husband Henry, has maintained with unimpeachable care. As everyone knows who has sought her counsel, Sandra’s advice is as keen as the fresh grapefruit that sustains her through the entire morning, while the warmth of her welcome will be known to many readers of Pheon, as it is to all Fellows.

On a personal note, I am delighted to say that music has flourished during Sandra’s time. Building on an initial donation from the late Charles Larkum, the College now has a full-time Director of Music funded by the generosity of John Osborn (1962). However able her helpers may be, a Master needs care and tact to bring such a major benefaction home, even when the donor is both willing and enlightened, as was the case here. Sandra has also encouraged initiatives that will give the choirstalls in the chapel a more professional appearance with the installation of custom-made lamps (there will still be candles) and choir-desks. Plans are also in hand to raise funds, by appeal, for a magnificent new organ to replace the old one that is long overdue for a well-earned retirement. There are also several new recital series designed to display the talents of undergraduates, graduates and visiting performers. Many of these musicians have seen Sandra and Henry somewhere in the front seats.

Sandra has successfully combined the leadership of the Sidney community with extensive commitments in the University, notably her Directorship of the Judge Business School (1995-2006) and her work in the wider world. The scope of her contribution to academic and public life was recognised by the award of a DBE in 2004 and by her induction into the Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum in 2006. Sandra has even succeeded in maintaining a vigorous programme of research on leadership, innovation and health management; as I write, she has just edited a new volume of essays. Whether it be a major restructuring of the College administration, or the commissioning and oversight of a new (and profusely illustrated) history of the College by Dick Humphreys, scheduled for publication this year, Sandra has done her work with an energy that seems to renew itself endlessly. At some time or other, every principal officer of the College has risen in the morning, switched on the computer with the first morning kettle, and found half a dozen emails sent by Sandra before the sky had begun to redden over East Road. Of the two blessings named in the title of John Keats’ Sleep and Poetry it seems that Sandra needs only one. Since she presided over the election of two major poets to the Fellowship, Stephen Romer and Clive Wilmer, there is no doubt which one she can relinquish.

Sandra will not be leaving us completely, as it is likely she will follow the example of our previous Master, Gabriel Horn, taking rooms in College and being an active member of our community. It is easy to see how her research, her involvement with Oxfam and her work to enhance the management of the NHS will fill her time. We wish her and Henry all the best for the next stage their life.

Christopher Page (Vice-Master)

This is an archived news story, first posted in 2009.

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