Members and friends enjoy our inaugural Alumni Festival

Friday 19 March 2021

On Saturday 13 March 2021, St Catharine’s hosted the inaugural Alumni Festival, with 300 Members and friends joining us virtually from all around the world, including the United States, South Africa, Hong Kong, Uganda, Australia and Chile. We were delighted that we were able to welcome so many Members, matriculating between 1948 and the present day.

Three of our Fellows shared their expertise during fascinating lectures with live Q&A sessions: Professor Abigail Brundin (2000) spoke about policing religion in Renaissance Italy; Dr Simon Taylor (2009) discussed the outlook for China-US relations; and Dr Peter Wothers MBE (1988) gave an exciting demonstration of the reconstruction of a 1940s model of College.

The festival featured a virtual tour of College, which enabled Members and friends to click on an interactive map of the island site to explore up-to-date news, pictures and short films. Dr Colin Higgins, the College Librarian, provided a virtual archival exhibition; Dr Holly Canuto, gave an update on our students in her role as Senior Tutor; Dr Edward Wickham, Director of Music, spoke about the choirs at St Catharine’s; and Carmen Failla gave an overview of College rowing this year from her perspective as Head Rowing Coach and Boat House Manager. We were also delighted to share an update of the Our College, Our Future campaign and latest news about the Central Spaces building project.

​Emma Bell (1995, English) said, "Thank you very much for a wonderful inaugural Alumni Festival. It was such a pleasure to be back at College – albeit virtually. At a strange time for us all, it was both comforting and inspiring to be able to participate in college life from afar. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to other Catz alumni from across the world."

Dr Achim Hammerschmitt (1987, Mathematics) commented, "I enjoyed the virtual Alumni Festival immensely. Instead of a longer travel, St Catharine‘s was just a mouse click away."

Pictured (left–right): Welcome page for the Alumni Festival and the interactive virtual tour.  

Members and friends were also able to recreate real-life conversations in decennial year groups through virtual meeting spaces hosted by the College on Spatial Chat. It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends and chat to alumni, Fellows and staff.

Fellow Commoner and alumnus Professor Tony Watts (1960, History) added, "Many congratulations on an excellent Alumni Festival. Three high-class lectures, on very different themes; a fascinating tour of various aspects of the College; and brilliant technology, which I had not seen before, to support networking. A great success."

Karen Wall, College Accountant, reflected, “I had a super two hours looking around the site and listening to the lecturers. It has reinvigorated my love for St Catharine’s.”

We very much hope to host the St Catharine’s Alumni Festival annually. We are proud that this virtual festival means that distance is less of a barrier to communication, providing an opportunity for some of our 10,472 members to come together and connect with friends wherever they are in the world.

Pictured: Examples of the featured news and images available during the virtual tour.