A fond farewell to Dr Michael Sutherland
Fellow and Tutor for Undergraduate Admissions Dr Michael Sutherland is leaving Corpus to take up the position of Senior Tutor at Trinity Hall College. We wish him the best of success and thank him for his years of service and dedication to the College, particularly in his excellent tutorial support he has offered to his students, his contributions to the Fellowship and his colleagues, and above all his commitment to widening participation and selecting the most promising candidates for admission regardless of their educational or economic backgrounds.
Michael obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto in the field of experimental condensed matter physics, working on measurements of the thermal conductivity of superconductors. His supervisor, Professor Louis Taillefer (himself a Corpus alumnus) says that Michael was one of the "most talented students I have ever taught, truly exceptional". In 2006 Michael came to Cambridge to work in the Quantum Matter group at the Cavendish Laboratory as a Royal Society Research Fellow, continuing his investigation into states of matter that arise from quantum interactions of electrons in cuprates, a family of copper oxides discovered in 1986.
Michael joined the College Fellowship and became Director of Studies for Natural Sciences. In 2014 he took up the post of Tutor for Undergraduate Admissions. At that time he wrote, "I think that it is important to get the message out that there should be no barriers to talented and ambitious students from less well-off or non-traditional backgrounds. The opportunity to obtain a high quality undergraduate education like that offered at Corpus can quite literally be a life-changing experience."
Over the last ten years, Michael has been committed to making that opportunity available to students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. During his tenure, the number of state school students at Corpus has risen from 57% to more than 70%, and he has introduced a range of innovative widening participation programs, including residential summer schools, greater engagement with link area schools, the creation of an regional embedded Access & Outreach Officer, the Pelican Programme, and of course the College's successful Bridging Course, now in its fourth year. He is also co-director of STEM SMART, an initiative from the University of Cambridge in association with Isaac Physics, an online platform that was developed by former alumnus and Life Fellow Professor Mark Warner, a fellow physicist with whom Michael collaborated closely.
Senior Tutor Dr Marina Frasca-Spada said, "Michael has been a phenomenally successful Admissions Tutor, and the College owes him a large debt for his efforts. His patience, passion, and infallible good judgment in assessing applicants have been a crucial contribution to Corpus’ academic success and to its recent excellent widening participation record. His unflappable good humour and optimism, even at the peak times which are a typical feature of work in the Admissions and Tutorial departments, have been an essential factor for the current good shape of our team."
Undergraduate Admissions Manager Naomi Walker-Pearl concurs. "It has been an absolute privilege to work with Michael over the past three years, and he will be hugely missed in the Admissions Office. I have the utmost respect for the way he manages our team and admissions to the College. Trinity Hall are extremely lucky to have Michael!"
Dr Jo Willmott will serve as interim Tutor for Undergraduate Admissions for the upcoming year.