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. 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 or Fellows wishing to nominate someone for 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 for the academic year following.
Further details are available in the Terms of Reference
The current Fellow Commoner is Jonathan Rugman, Foreign Affairs Correspondent at Channel 4 News.
The first post holder in modern times 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.
In 2015-16 the Fellow Commoner was Tim Sebastian, former BBC correspondent in Warsaw, Moscow and Washington, and founder and presenter of the BBC’s flagship interview programme Hardtalk. Today he is a freelance presenter and interviewer. Tim also moderates debates in the Arab world and writes novels. During the year he organised and presented a War Game with a panel of experts confronted with a fictitious but highly plausible scenario. He also held workshops on television interviewing with the students and plans to work with them on various journalism projects