St Antony's College, Oxford St Antony's College
is one of the constituent colleges
of the University of Oxford
in England. Founded in 1950 as the result of the gift of French merchant Sir Antonin Besse
, St Antony's specialises in international relations
, and area studies
relative to Europe, Russia, former Soviet states, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, China, and South and South East Asia.
In 1947, Besse was considering giving around £2 million to the University of Oxford to found a new college. Ultimately, on the advice of his solicitor, R Clyde, who had attended New College
, Besse decided to go ahead with the plan and permitted Clyde to approach the university with the offer. The university was initially unreceptive to the offer, and recommended that Besse instead devote his funds to improving the finances of some of the poorer existing colleges. Eventually Besse acquiesced, contributing a total of £250,000 in varied amounts to the following colleges: Keble
, St Peter's
and St Edmund Hall
. After this large contribution, the university decided to reconsider Besse's offer to help found a new college and, recognising the need to provide for the growing number of postgraduate students coming to Oxford, gave the venture their blessing; and in 1948, Besse signed a deed of trust appointing the college's first trustees.
Sir Antonin Besse, whose gift enabled the college's foundation.
The attention of the university then turned to providing the new college, by then called St Antony's, with a permanent home. Ripon Hall was initially considered as a good option for a building in which to house the college, but its owners refused to sell, forcing the university to continue its search for premises. They looked at several properties in quick succession, including Youlbury, the Wytham Abbey estate, and Manchester College
, which was known to be in financial difficulties and which might thus consider the sale of its 19th-century Mansfield Road buildings. None of these options proved tenable, and the college began to look elsewhere. It is said that Besse became very frustrated with the university and its apparent lack of interest in his project at this point, and almost gave up any hope of its completion. However the college finally acquired its current premises at 62 Woodstock Road in 1950.
The College first admitted students in Michaelmas Term
1950 and received its Royal Charter
in 1953. A supplementary charter was granted in 1962 to allow the college to admit women as well as men, and in 1963 the College became a full member of the University of Oxford.
By 1952 the number of students at St Antony's had increased to 27 and by the end of the decade that number had risen to 260, amongst whom 34 different nationalities were represented. The college initially struggled due to a lack of funding, and in the late 1960s serious consideration was given to uniting St Antony's with All Souls College
when All Souls announced its intention to take a more active role in the education of graduate students. The plan did not come to fruition; All Souls rejected the proposed federal nature of the combined institution, saying they would consider nothing less than a full merger, a proposal which St Antony's governing body did not support. St Antony's lack of funds was partly solved under the wardenship of William Deakin, who devoted himself to college fund-raising and secured a number of generous loans from the Ford
foundations. Since then, St Antony's has almost constantly been financially insecure. This led to the cancellation of a number of proposed physical developments at its site on Woodstock Road. Not until the 1990s was it feasible for the college to embark upon a new building programme; however, since then St Antony's has continued to expand and open new specialist centres for the pursuit of area studies. The college is now recognised as one of the world's foremost centres for such studies.
and houses centres for the study of Africa, Asia, Europe, Japan, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia and Eurasia.
Saint Anthony the Great, after whom the college is named.
From the beginning Besse had expressed his hope that the new college, which he intended to open to men "irrespective of origin, race or creed", would prove instrumental in improving international cooperation and intercultural understanding. The college soon announced its primary role as such: "to be a centre of advanced study and research in the fields of modern international history, philosophy, economics and politics and to provide an international centre within the University where graduate students from all over the world can live and work together in close contact with senior members of the University who are specialists in their fields". The college is still true to its founding principle, remaining one of the most international colleges of the university, and home to many of Oxford's region-specific study departments. This latter feature, combined with the wardenship of William Deakin
and St Antony's reputation as a key centre for the study of Soviet affairs during the Cold War
, led to rumours of links between the college and the British intelligence services; the author Leslie Woodhead
wrote to this effect, describing the college as "a fitting gathering place for old spooks".:220
Lord Dahrendorf presided over much of the college's expansion in the 1990s.
The official annals of the university state that St Antony's was one of four colleges, along with All Souls
and Christ Church
, which made a concerted effort to establish external links. In St Antony's case, the college established wide-ranging connections with diplomats and foreign visitors; this is further commented on as having made the college "perhaps more significant than any other single development in Oxford's adjustment to the contemporary international academic environment".
The college's name alludes to its founder, whose name, Antonin Besse, is derived from the same linguistic root. For a long time it was not made clear whether Anthony the Great
or Anthony of Padua
was the intended namesake. The matter was finally settled in 1961, when the college finally deemed Anthony the Great to be more the appropriate choice, due to his links to one of the college's prime areas of specialisation - the Middle and Near East. Despite this, the college's banner is flown each year on both saints' days as a matter of tradition, and a statue of the "wrong" Anthony, Anthony of Padua (distinguished by his holding of the Christ child), stands in the college's Hilda Besse Building.
Buildings and grounds
The college's main building was built in the early Victorian era for the Society of the Holy and Undivided Trinity
at the behest of Marian Rebecca Hughes, the first woman to take monastic vows within the Church of England since the reformation. The order commissioned Charles Buckeridge
, a local architect of some renown, to design the convent buildings. After initially proposing a circular design based on the symbolism of the holy trinity, Buckeridge took to a more traditional approach and drew up the plans for what is now St Antony's main building some time before 1865. Whilst initially there were plans to enlarge the convent with a northerly extension, for which place was made in the building's design, further building never took place. The convent finally opened in November 1868.
The total cost of the initial build was eight thousand pounds, a considerable sum at that time. It is said that upon first seeing the convent's new premises, the architect William Butterfield
commented that it was the 'best modern building in Oxford after my college', by which he meant Keble. St Antony's acquired the former convent in 1950 after it had been vacated by the convent and Halifax House
, which had occupied the premises in the immediate post war period. The building's chapel, which was never consecrated and now houses the college library, was built in the years 1891–1894 to Buckeridge's original design. The three panel paintings round the apse of the former chapel are by Charles Edgar Buckeridge
The main building's undercroft, now the Gulbenkian Reading Room, was initially used by the nuns as a refectory, a role it continued to play until the completion of the Hilda Besse building in 1970.
1960s: The Hilda Besse Building
The college library is housed in the old main building.
After a number of ambitious schemes, one of which had been designed by Oscar Niemeyer
, to enlarge the college in the 1960s fell through due to lack of funds, the college decided to concentrate its efforts in providing for the construction of a small extension and acquisition of neighbouring properties. The Hilda Besse Building (then known as New Building) was opened in 1970; this building still serves its original purpose in housing the college's dining hall and graduate common room as well as a great number of ancillary meeting rooms. The next major expansion of the college came in 1993 with the completion of a new building to house the Nissan Institute for Japanese Studies
and the Bodleian Japanese Library, whilst additional accommodation was not supplied until the Founder's Building was opened to mark the millennium in the year 2000.
2000s: The Gateway Buildings
The Gateway Buildings were completed in 2013
In the early 21st century not much development took place until completion of the college's new Gateway Buildings in 2013, which provide a new main entrance to the college and form the east, and final, side of the college's first quadrangle.
The funding for this was gained in part by Foulath Hadid
who, for his outstanding services to the college, was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 2004, and the Hadid Room, the college's meeting room, was named in his honour.
The Investcorp Building
The Investcorp Building was one of Zaha Hadid's last completed projects before her death in 2016
Furthermore, as part of its ongoing development programme, St Antony's commissioned the construction of a new centre for Middle Eastern Studies. The Middle East Centre, or Investcorp Building, was designed by the renowned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid
; it broke ground on 30 January 2013
and was opened as the Investcorp Building on 26 May 2015.
Student life and study
The college's dining hall is located in the award-winning Hilda Besse building.
St Antony's College has some 450 students from over 66 nationalities; about half of the students have a first language other than English. Student interests are represented by an elected body, the Graduate Common Room (GCR) Executive,
which is elected on an annual basis at the end of Michaelmas Term.
Most college accommodation is located on site, with around 104 en-suite bedrooms provided in the Gateway and Founder's buildings. Further rooms are to be found in converted Victorian houses both on site or very close by. This expansion in the provision of rooms for students is a recent development at St Antony's, which until recently (up until the construction of the Founder's Building at the turn of the millennium) was one of the few Oxford colleges characterised by a chronic lack of student rooms. As a result of this development, the college is now able to provide some of the highest quality postgraduate accommodation in the city.
The college is host to the St Antony's Late Bar, located on the ground floor of the award-winning Hilda Besse building
and serving students throughout the academic year. In addition to operating as a regular bar, it hosts numerous themed bops
, culture/region/country nights, live music events (guest concerts, open-mic nights, Battle of the Bands), welfare/charity functions, various tastings and launch parties, among others. Popular recurring events include Halloqueen, USA Night, Latin Bop, Balkan Night, and the thrice-annual Drink the Bar Dry.
Libraries and publications
The Gateway Building, completed in 2013, provides around fifty en-suite study bedrooms.
The Old Main Building - the former Holy Trinity Convent
which was built in the 1860s - houses the College Library (including the Gulbenkian Reading Room) and the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre Library. The College Library keeps general collections in modern history, politics, international relations and economics, collections on Europe, Asia, and the non-Slavonic collections on Russia and the former Soviet Union. It holds over 50,000 volumes and back issues of over 300 journal titles. It also houses some 20th-century archive collections, including the Wheeler-Bennett papers. St Antony's is associated with the Oxford Libraries Information System (OLIS), and has been a contributor to the university's online union library catalogue since 1990.
The main building and college library.
The other libraries on the College site are the Middle East Centre Library, the Bodleian Latin American Centre Library, the Bodleian Japanese Library and the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre Library, the last of which was refurbished in 2008–2009 as part of the college's rolling construction and rejuvenation program. The college also holds an extensive collection of archival material relating to the Middle East at the Middle East Centre Archive,
the premises of which were greatly expanded with the completion of Zaha Hadid
's Softbridge building in mid-2014. The area studies libraries on site are unique within the university and thus generally open to all its students, regardless of college affiliation; they typically hold a wide collection of primary language sources and further Anglophone texts - an abundance of specialist material and unique expertise which prompted Leslie Woodhead to comment as follows::221
Generations of well-informed men with unusual backgrounds have passed through the college, excavating
the remarkable library and sharing their knowledge of some of the world's more secretive places.
The college's Graduate Common Room has, since 2005, published a biannual academic journal entitled the St Antony's International Review
, which is more commonly known by its acronym - STAIR. The journal represents a medium through which aspiring young academics can publish their work alongside their established policy-makers and their peers. Furthermore, the college publishes a termly newsletter, the Antonian
, and a college record - an annual report on college affairs.
Sports and societies
A women's eight. St Antony's Boat Club has seen much success in recent years.
This environment is further fostered by a communal dining hall and active sports clubs for football and rowing, in which sport the college club won the Nephthys and Christ Church
Regattas in 2011.
Traditions and attributes
St Antony's is a largely informal college, mandating the wearing of academic dress (sub fusc) only for the university's matriculation and graduation ceremonies. The college does not maintain a permanent high table, instead choosing to serve high table meals on a number of occasions each week for the college's fellows and visiting academics. Students often attend high table at the invitation of their supervisors.
As a graduate college, St Antony's students play an important role in the day-to-day business of running the college through their elected body of representatives - the Graduate Common Room or GCR.
Coat of arms
The college's arms, granted in 1952, were designed in such a way so as to reflect the college's namesake - Anthony 'the Great' of Egypt. The red represents the Red Sea, whilst the gold was chosen to reflect desert sands. The mullets were borrowed from the founder's trade mark, whilst the T-shaped elements are traditional crosses of St Antony. The heraldic blazon for these arms is as follows:
Or on a chevron between three tau crosses gules as many pierced mullets of the field.
The college's motto 'plus est en vous' is sometimes added in complement to its arms. When this is the case, they are typically placed upon a scroll beneath the escutcheon (shield); this version of the arms is most commonly found on the cover of St Antony's Papers issues. The motto itself can be translated literally as 'there is more in you', although it is commonly taken to imply the following English expression: 'There is more to you than meets the eye'.
St Antony's is one of nine colleges at the university to employ the 'two-word' Latin grace. This is statistically the most popular form of grace said at hall in Oxford and also in Cambridge, where it is used by five colleges. The grace is read out in two parts at the college's formal meals, which take place thrice each term. The first half of the grace or ante cibum is said before the start of the meal and the second, the post cibum, once the meal has ended. It is read as follows:
Benedictus benedicat - "May the Blessed One give a blessing"
Benedicto benedicatur - "Let praise be given to the Blessed One"
The grace is said in keeping with tradition. However, unlike at most Oxford colleges, St Antony's does not require its students to stand and acknowledge the saying of grace. The second half of the grace or post cibum can also be translated as "Let a blessing be given by the Blessed One".
People associated with St Antony's
The first Warden
of the college was Sir William Deakin
(1950–1968), a young Oxford academic who in the Second World War became an adventurous soldier and aide to Winston Churchill
. He won Antonin Besse
's confidence and played the key role in turning his vision into the centre of excellence that St Antony's has become. Sir Raymond Carr
(1968–1987), a distinguished historian of Spain, expanded the college and its regional coverage and opened its doors to visiting scholars from all over the world.
St Antony's alumni (Antonians) have achieved success in a wide variety of careers; these include writers, politicians, academics and a large number of civil servants, diplomats and representatives of international organisations.
Former students with careers as politicians and civil servants include Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
, the 6th President of Iceland
, Álvaro Uribe
, who was President of Colombia
from 2002 to 2010 and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermúdez
, Yigal Allon
, a deputy and acting Prime Minister of Israel
, former Vice President of the European Commission and current Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn
, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and former UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag
, the former Secretary of State for Wales John Redwood
, former EU Commissioner Jean Dondelinger
, the Canadian politician John Godfrey
, Gary Hart
, a former US Senator and presidential candidate, and US Rep. Tom Malinowski
(D-NJ), a former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
. Diplomats Joseph A. Presel
, Gustavo Bell
and Shlomo Ben-Ami
are also Antonians. Furthermore, Minouche Shafik
, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England
and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund
, is an Antonian, as are three-time Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Thomas Friedman
and Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Dexter Filkins
- Timothy Garton Ash, journalist and author on European matters
- Mats Berdal, Professor of Security and Development at the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
- Archie Brown, historian of the end of the Cold War and author of The Gorbachev Factor
- Paul Collier, Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford
- Michael Kaser, economist and author of Soviet Economics
- Homa Katouzian, literary critic and scholar of Iranian studies
- Paul Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History; Director, International Security Studies, Yale University
- Alan Knight, post-critical historian, Director of the Latin American Centre, and author of the two-volume award-winning book The Mexican Revolution (1986)
- Wm. Roger Louis, historian and scholar of the British Empire, especially Decolonization.
- Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations and Director of the European Studies Centre
- Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies
- Oliver Ready, translator of Russian literature
- Robert Service, historian of the USSR and biographer of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin
- Avi Shlaim, historian writing on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Vivienne Shue, FBA, sinologist and author of "The Reach of the State"
- Omer Bartov, historian writing on genocide focused on the Holocaust; author of seven books.
- Michael Herman, founder of the Oxford Intelligence Group
- Foulath Hadid, Honorary Fellow
- Albert Hourani, Founder-Director, Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford
- James Joll, historian, fellow (1950–67)
- Sudipta Kaviraj, Professor of Political Sciences, Columbia University, New York
- Frank McLynn, historian and biographer
- Tapan Raychaudhuri, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford
- Giulio Angioni, Italian writer and anthropologist
- José Cutileiro, Portuguese diplomat, historian, and author
- Michael Aris, leading Western authority on Bhutanese, Tibetan and Himalayan culture, Husband of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Old main entrance
Old college building
New main entrance
Hilda Besse building
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Last edited on 21 March 2021, at 11:11
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