As the new Master, I was asked in 2014 to describe my first impressions of the College, and I cited four: the warmth and friendliness of the Fellowship and the wider Eddies' Family; the feeling of shared enterprise, “can do” and energy; the exciting range of tasks to tackle; and that it felt like it would be fun. These are still abiding impressions, but let me focus briefly on some of the tasks to do.
The project to increase student accommodation and secure the freehold of the Mount Pleasant House site is likely to be one that we are able to fund from external sources, albeit that achieving this is keeping the Bursar and his team very busy. We hope to finalise the transaction soon, for opening in 2017/8. While this may not be reliant on grants and donations, it will force the pace on work to improve common areas of the College that have not been enlarged since we had only 100 students – the Combination Room, the Hall and our facilities for teaching, seminars and research will become quite inadequate to handle a College of over 500. Plans for these common areas are now being drawn up and will form the centrepiece of our appeal to alumni and other supporters to help us create a future student experience of the College as vibrant and abiding as that of earlier Eddies.
If that is our future, we can also appeal to celebrate our heritage: 2016 marks the centenary of our College Chapel, with its unique position as the only Roman Catholic chapel of any Oxbridge college. To mark this, we will not only hold several special events, but we have also upgraded the porch steps to allow handicapped access and to incorporate a small garden and statue of St Edmund of Abingdon, after whom the College is named.
There is much else to do, but I hope that these two projects embody the spirit and energy of St Ed's and that we can count on your support as we build a College fit for the future and well rooted in its past.