Alison Rose becomes Principal of Newnham College

Alison Rose (NC 1980) became the thirteenth Principal of Newnham College this week, following the College ceremony of Solemn Admission.

Solemn Admission is a ceremony instituted after the University’s 1921 rejection of women’s right to receive degrees, and the attack on Newnham’s Clough Gates.

Alison made her Solemn Promise to faithfully perform the duties of Principal without fear or favour, and in all things promote the welfare of the College and signed the Promise Book.

In the ceremony, the new Fellows and Scholars also make promises to “promote the honour and usefulness of the College as a place of education, learning and research,” and sign their names to the book. The promises are made in the presence of the Governing Body, made up of the Fellows of Newnham College.

Alison Rose said ‘It is an honour and a privilege to be signing the book as Principal, almost forty years after I first signed it as an undergraduate at my matriculation ceremony. I never dreamed then that I would be returning as Principal. But as I told our new undergraduates, what I learnt in my time at Newnham has been the bedrock of my career ever since, and has brought me full circle back to this amazing college.

Newnham’s Governing Body adopted the practice in January 1922, after the second defeat of the proposal for women to receive Cambridge degrees and to be able to take part in University governance. The University vote had resulted in riots and an attack on Newnham by the male undergraduates. It was not until 1948 that women became full members of the University of Cambridge.

Seven new fellows also made their Solemn Promise and signed the Book, followed by those graduate students who received Newnham Research Studentships, and the undergraduate Scholars. Scholars are those undergraduates who have been awarded first-class results in either their Part I or Part II exams.

Alison Rose was previously Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, a post she held since 2014. She is herself a Newnham alumna, having studied history at the College, matriculating in 1980. Her particular expertise is international relations in Europe and the European Union. She has had a wideranging career in the British civil service in eight Government Departments, on a wide range of policies and legislation, including training, employment, transport, equality and heritage.

(Image left to right: Prof Liba Taub, Senior Tutor; Dr Kate Fleet, Graduate Tutor; Alison Rose, Principal; Dr Laurie Friday, Secretary to the Governing Body; Dr Emma Mawdsley, Vice-Principal.)