Sunday, April 28, 2013

REUNION: Europe in Madrid – Lord Patten

L to R: Lord Patten of Barnes, Oxford's Chancellor.  Steven Jones, Branch
Representative for Guernsey. Alice Tepper Marlin. Photo by JT Marlin. 
The University Dinner for the European Oxford Reunion was held on the top two floors of the Posada de la Villa Restaurant.

This three-storey building in mid-Madrid is a coach house dating back to 1642, a mere 150 years after Christopher Columbus checked in with Queen Isabella before setting off westward to find the Far East.

The restaurant, selected by the Madrid Branch representative, Andrew Moore, gets 4 to 4.5 stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor for its traditional Madrid food.

We were served mostly tapas-bar style, with plates of fried octopus and onion rings, peppers, salad, scrambled eggs and mushrooms, potato croquettes, and lamb, followed by various Spanish pastries. The small "black pudding" cakes were a topic of conversation because the uninitiated are startled to be told what they ate. Everyone likes the decor and most people love the food, though a few dissidents don't like so much being fried. Nobody doesn't like the lamb.

Christine Fairchild, Director of Alumni Relations for Oxford (and previously Executive Director of External Relations for the Harvard B School), spots Alice and me as we come in to the restaurant looking for someone we know. She takes us to the third floor, where we are seated behind place cards at the "Chancellor's Table". Apparently we had been notified but the email never reached us.

Sure enough, on my left and Alice's right is Chris Patten, the Chancellor of Oxford since 2003 and Chairman of the BBC Trust since 2011. He was made a life peer in 2005, with the title Baron Patten of Barnes. We are both delighted at this unexpected honor and treat. 

Lord Patten was born Christopher Francis Patten in Cleaveleys, Lancashire in May 1944. He is proud of the fact that he is the son of a jazz drummer and was the first person in his family to attend university. He attended St. Benedict's School at Ealing Abbey in western London, from which he won an exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford. I can vouch for the high academic standards of the Benedictine schools of that era, having been dunked into three rigorous years of Latin and Greek at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire in the 1950s - followed by three more years at Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island. Lord Patten read Modern History at Oxford. Patten was a near contemporary, matriculating a year after I did. (Unusually for an American at Oxford, I served as editor of Oxford Tory for a term and was General Agent of OUCA when Balliol's James Douglas-Hamilton, now Lord Selkirk of Douglas, was President.)

After taking his degree, Patten traveled around the United States on a Coolidge Traveling Fellowship - kind of a U.S. equivalent for Brits of what the European Tour was for American college students. His visit to the United States followed in the peripatetic footsteps in 1964 of Oxford Union standouts Michael Beloff (predecessor of Sir Ivor Roberts as President of Trinity) and Jonathan Aitken. 

At one point in mid-1965 Patten was touring the southern states, in a car with Pennsylvania plates. As he made his way into  Alabama, he was puzzled by the open hostility that his car provoked. It dawned on him that his northern license plates tagged him as a likely civil rights troublemaker. Pennsylvania was  the source the previous summer of a Penn Law School contingent, three of whom (one of them a New Yorker) were killed by white supremacists in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
Viola Liuzzo, 1925-1965
VIOLA FAUVER LIUZZO was born in Pennsylvania on April 11, 1925. After a failed first marriage, Viola married Anthony J. Liuzzo, a Teamster union official from Detroit. She raised five children, and at 36 resumed her education at Wayne State University, graduating with top honors and becoming a medical lab technician.  She joined Martin Luther King's 25,000-person strong Selma-to-Montgomery March on March 25, 1965. King brought a petition to Alabama Governor George Wallace demanding voting rights for African Americans. After the demonstration, Viola was a volunteer driver, ferrying marchers back to Montgomery Airport. Her co-driver was Leroy Moton, a young African American. Coming back from one of these trips, the two volunteers were passed by a car carrying three KKK members from Birmingham and an undercover FBI informant. Seeing a white woman and black man together in the car, the three KKK members decided to kill them. Collie Wilkins put his arm out of the window and fired his gun, hitting Viola in the head twice and killing her instantly. Leroy survived. Besides Wilkins (aged 21), the KKK members were William Eaton (41) and Eugene Thomas (42). All three were swiftly apprehended.  Gary Rowe (34), the FBI agent, testified against the others. Between arrest and the trial, rumors circulated in the media that Viola was a Communist who abandoned her five children to seek sexual relationships with African Americans. The stories were later found to have been planted by the FBI. Despite Rowe's testimony, the three KKK members were acquitted of murder by an all-white Alabama jury. President Johnson's Justice Department charged the men using an 1870 federal law with conspiring to deprive Viola Liuzzo of her civil rights. Wilkins, Eaton and Thomas were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
On August 6, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed by President Johnson, ending "Jim Crow" literacy tests, poll tax, and other subjective voter tests that were widely used in some southern states to deprive African-Americans of the vote. The law required Federal oversight of voter registration in states and voting districts where such tests were used.

Patten then went to New York to work in the campaign of John Lindsay, doing what today would be called "oppo research", tracking the television and other appearances of Lindsay's rival Bill Buckley.  Buckley never expected to win, and did not, but he developed a series of campaign strategies that could be considered a template for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign.

In those days, it would have been hard for someone in New York City to visualize a conservative comeback. The Republicans were not much less progressive change than the Democrats on many issues. Nixon created the country's Environmental Protection Agency. 

Both the Conservative Republican victories and the election of Barack Obama might have been surprising in 1965. As Patten said during the dinner:
Who would have thought that during our lifetimes the United States would have a black president? But are we seeing now a backlash? When I was in New York City in 1965, the Senators were Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller. Could either of them be nominated by the Republican Party today?
Bill Ruckelshaus, Nixon's appointee as the first head of the EPA, has said more than once that he doesn't recognize the Republican party he once served. Mayor Bloomberg is an exception, cut from the same cloth as the liberal Republicans of that day. But the fact that Bloomberg can have liberal views on key issues, only proves that New York City is different, and Bloomberg's personal campaign war chest makes him also different. 

When Patten returned to the UK, Patten he became a desk officer and then, within ten years of going down from Oxford, director of research for the Conservative Party. He stood for Parliament in 1979 and won (MP for Bath), eventually rising to a cabinet minister post and party chairman, serving in turn as UK Secretary of State for the Environment, UK Minister for Overseas Development and  Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He led the Conservative Party's unexpected fourth consecutive electoral victory (under John Major) in 1992, the year that President Clinton was elected to his first term. 

However, that year Patten lost his own seat in the House of Commons. He was therefore freed up for the post of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, and was a figure of dignity in July 1997 as the television cameras famously recorded the Union Jack being hauled down, as Britain handed back Hong Kong - in accordance with the terms of its lease - to the People's Republic of China. Patten's term was marked by both a steady rise in the Hong Kong economy and an expansion of Hong Kong's social welfare system that would have made Nelson Rockefeller proud.

The dinner table conversation of course turned to China and Lord Patten wondered how the clash between rising wages and expectations on the part of the population and a government that does not have the same institutional capacity for flexible adaptation that are built into democracies like the United States and the UK. Will China become more democratic? An open question.

From 1999 to 2004 he served as one of the United Kingdom's two members of the European Commission. In his first speech after his appointment to the EC, addressing the Confederation of British Industry, Patten said:
There are strong moral arguments for the EU as a factor of peace and stability in Europe. And the single market has had a huge multiplier effect in terms of economic integration, shared wealth and mutual understanding.
This long-standing past support of the European Union made it a talk of the Oxford European Reunion when he expressed doubts about the EU's future. Who knows? Maybe reports of his comments contributed to a weekend walk-back by the EU of its austerity dictates to Spain and other debt-burdened EU members.

Lord Patten asked me whether President Obama can get much more done given the stalemate in the Congress. I said it was certainly a bad sign that the Senate failed to pass even modest background checks for gun-buyers, when 90 percent of the public is reportedly in favor of such checks. But all is not lost: 
  • Democratic supporters are learning how to make better use of the independent groups that up to now have been noted primarily for supporting far-out anti-tax and socially conservative agendas and candidates. Gun control is a major test case, with Mayor Bloomberg investing heavily in pursuing the topic, with his mayoral group out front on the issue. Gun-control supporters are gearing up to punish gun-pushers  of both parties in 2014 (some Democratic Senators joined with the Republicans to defeat the bill).
  • There is much that the President can do without need for Congressional support. George W. Bush missed a huge opportunity after 9-11 to impose a carbon tax or higher fuel standards, and he went out of his way to permit more mountain-top coal mining and continued use of coal-fired power plants. But in his second term he made major contributions to the environment by executive order. He did finally raise fuel standards for cars, he implemented a phaseout of HCFCs, and perhaps most important, he added 125 million acres of land and sea areas to the marine and land preserves.     
Patten admires many American politicians, and he is especially in touch with those that have Oxford ties. Senator Dick Lugar (defeated in the Republican primary in Indiana; the GOP nominee lost to Democrat) was first off his lips, along with Senators Sarbanes and Bradley. He stays in touch with Justice Breyer, and NY Times columnists Nick Kristof and Tom Friedman.
 Photo by JT Marlin.
It is rare to have such a pleasant and interesting evening and it more than made up for the miserably cold and cloudy weather in Madrid. 

On the way out of the restaurant, each of us was given a key that includes the phone number for future reservations. What a clever idea!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

OXFORD: European Reunion, Madrid–Trinity Dinner

Trinity College Dinner, Madrid, April 26, 2013. Real Gran Pena Club. L to R:
Andrew Moore, reunion organizer. Andrew Hamilton, Vice Chancellor of
Oxford. Sir Ivor Roberts, President of Trinity. Alice Tepper Marlin. Sir
Roger Fry, founder of many schools in Spain. Photo by JT Marlin.
MADRID, April 27 - Alice and I are attending the European Reunion of the Oxford University Society. 

Trinity College sponsored a dinner for its alumni yesterday, with its President presiding. Other colleges that did not have their own dinners were invited to Trinity's. 

So Paul Lewis, long-time New York Times correspondent, attended the dinner -  with his global-finance columnist wife Vivian - even though he is a Balliol man. Balliol has other things on its mind - its 750th birthday party.

The dinner was held at the Real Gran Pena Club. The club building is a fine example of traditional Spanish magnificence. One of the lectures this weekend was on the Spanish Golden Era, which was viewed as both a time of artistic exflorescence and a period of decline, as an opulent mentality grew up alongside the flow of silver from Spain's Latin American colonies. The Gran Pena is the club of both the Royalist fan club and the Loyalists. As it was explained to me:
The Loyalists would have been Royalists, if the person next in line for the throne wasn't such a darn lefty. 
This was in practical terms extremely important because the Loyalists included Spain's  military leaders, who supported Francisco Franco against the Republicans in 1936 because the growing influence of Moscow (Stalin) terrified the Spanish establishment. 

Franco and the army prevailed after a tragic three-year civil war encapsulated in Picasso's 1937 painting "Guernica" about the bombing of a rebellious Basque village by German and Italian planes, acting they said at the request of their ally Spain.

After its civil war was over -  according to my history sherpas - Spain effectively became neutral country that was a haven for people escaping from Vichy France. Franco played both sides and eventually went to the Allies. He did the same thing after the war, buying support from the left and the right - corrupting the rich with tax havens and corrupting workers (in the view of my sherpa) with workplace benefits.

He died in a hospital bed in 1975 and was described to me as dying "in his bed" because he successfully made concessions to both labor and business.

Private conversations at the Reunion suggest that Europeans view that today's problems in Spain are the result of (1) the long-time easy life in Spain created by the country's control of mineral resources overseas, exemplified by the previously mentioned centuries-long stream of silver to Seville, and (2) the Easy Street culture that Franco helped create in the process of maintaining control.

To make peace with workers, Franco's postwar Spain instituted generous policies that allow workers to build up a seniority that prevents employers from firing or laying them off without onerous penalties. Comment by a Brit who has worked in Spain for years:
Business owners burdened with a bigger payroll than their revenues can support may find it easier to shut down an entire facility than lay off a single employee.
These concessions, of course, have been made in different degrees all over Europe, as a conscious choice has been made in Europe to trade quality of working life for some loss in economic growth. But elsewhere in Europe concessions were made in a more democratic environment, with more business input.

In Spain, Franco matched the concession to workers with loopholes to facilitate non-payment of taxes by companies and executives. These loopholes go beyond the business tax concessions demanded by lobbyists in Washington. They amount to institutionalized corruption. Another memorable comment of the day:
Japan has political and civil service corruption as well. But usually when the politicians are corrupt, the civil service exposes them, and when the civil service is corrupt, the politicians expose them. In Spain both sides are in on it.
After Franco died, the progressive King Juan Carlos I took over and soon became one of Europe's most popular monarchs. His reputation, however, has necessarily been seriously tarnished by Spanish unemployment's reaching a new peak of 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013. 

Among Spaniards younger than 25, unemployment is reported as rising to 57.2 percent. But a Spanish friend said this was an exaggeration because the official figures include students as unemployed people. I don't know enough about the Spanish labor figures to comment on this. 

The country meanwhile is gripped with an unusual level of self-doubt. The estimated proportion of the Spanish economy that is "off the books" is 30 percent. The so-called "black economy" and fear of bank failures are cited as the reason for the Spanish people hoarding 500-euro notes, with more of them in Spain relative to population than any other country. 

Some Spaniards are becoming self-critical, blaming their economic problems on their  cultural traditions. The fear is that the European Union may end up wrecked on the rocks of Europe's finest treasures - its glorious history and the many cultures created by this history. 

The biggest shock for some people at the gathering of mostly European Oxford graduates was that Lord Patten, Oxford's Chancellor and a long-time supporter of the European Union, expressed public doubts about the future of the euro and the EU. As one person asked me rhetorically:
What is left of the EU without the euro? What is left of the euro without the EU?

Friday, April 19, 2013

R.I.P. | Dr. Denis B. Woodfield, NYC Dinner Chairman #2, Died at 79

Denis B. Woodfield
Denis Buchanan Woodfield, D.Phil., formerly of Rye, N.Y., died on April 17, 2013 at the age of 79. Cause of death was pancreatic cancer. He lived in Princeton, New Jersey.

Denis was born in New York City in 1933, the year that the New York City Oxford-Cambridge Dinner — of which he was the second chairman — started. 

Growing up in Vermont and Maine, his formative years were spent in Switzerland, where he attended The College de Vevey, and graduated from Harvard, class of 1954, aged 20. 

Deferring his acceptance to Lincoln College, Oxford University, he served in the U.S. military, attending the Army Language School in Monterey, California to learn Russian. Upon completion, he was sent to the 513th Military Intelligence in Germany where he worked as Chief US Army Interpreter, Armed Forces Central Europe for three years, frequently being a simultaneous translator at NATO meetings.

Returning to civilian life, he took up his position at Oxford University, attaining his D.Phil. in English bibliography. He was a life-long lover and buyer of rare books. His book Surreptitious Printing in England, 1550-1640, has itself become a valuable commodity.

Married in London, England, in 1963, to Rosemary Humphries, the couple moved to Rye. At this time, he was employed by the Chase Manhattan Bank. Three years later, he went to work for General Electric followed by six years with Pan American World Airways as their director of Cash and Banking. Moving to Princeton, New Jersey, Denis joined Johnson & Johnson, where he spent the next 20 years in various financial functions, including as Assistant Treasurer for Cash and Banking. 

Following his retirement at age 60, he became the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Industries and Services Association in New York City. 

Denis kept up his academic interests throughout his life. He published three books in addition to the one already cited, and for many years was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the British Schools and Universities Foundation. One of his proudest accomplishments was being elected in 2012 an Honorary Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford University. 

He was a member of the Harvard Club, and many Patriotic Societies such as the Society of the Cincinnati of the State of New Jersey, the Society of Colonial Wars and the Mayflower Society, and the Baronial Order of the Magna Carta. 

Denis leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Rosemary, and their three children—Katherine Woodfield Hermes, Nicholas Wyckoff Woodfield, and Elizabeth Dudley Woodfield (Carlucci) — and seven grandchildren. He was the older brother of the late Anthony Wyckoff Woodfield, and is survived by his sister Rosamond Woodfield Larr (Roz), and his step-father, Irving Charles Herrmann, both of Rye. 

The funeral will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at the Church of St. John on the Mountain, 379 Mt. Harmony Road, Bernardsville, NJ at 4 pm. 

Condolences at

More Oxonian Obits

Monday, April 15, 2013

XToast to the Queen 2013 (Superseded)

Queen Elizabeth II, Coronation,
Official Photo, 1953
This post has been superseded by the following one. 

It is maintained to avoid broken links.

BOAT RACE: 80th NYC BRD, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II, Coronation, Official Photo, 1953
80th NYC Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner, April 11, 2013

Toast to the Queen
 by Dr. John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, Oxford):

King George VI died in his sleep on February 6, 1952, after 16 years on the throne - including the Depression Years and World War II. 

His 25-year-old daughter Elizabeth was crowned the following year, 60 years ago. Her official photographs show her confident and brave. 

On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II took her oath at Westminster Abbey before 8,000 guests, including many heads of state. She bound herself to serve her people and to maintain the laws of God. 

Millions more watched as the BBC set up a live broadcast of unprecedented size. Many purchased a television set for the first time. Others came to p
arties held throughout Britain.

I attended one of those parties as a ten-year-old boarder at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. We were excited about being part of the event as it happened. The small screen was laughably inadequate for the large number of monks and teachers and staff and boys who wanted to watch. But never will I forget it. 

The Queen said:

Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.
Queen Elizabeth II
My sister Elisabeth met the Queen last year when she was awarded the OBE. She was very impressed.

I think after 60 years we can all pronounce Her Majesty worthy indeed. So I have composed a six-line toast in her honor:

We raise our glasses to the Queen, none finer 
Who gave her name to an ocean liner. 

With Treasury markets at zero bound,
The Federal Reserve two programs found.


And they named their policies, brave and few, 
The QE1… and the QE2.

Ladies and Gentlemen - The Queen.

[Link here to story on what is likely to happen when the unthinkable occurs and Queen Elizabeth II dies.]

Response from the Universities - Sir Ivor Roberts Introduced by Dr. Marlin

Sir Ivor Roberts is President of Trinity College, Oxford. For 25 years I served as the College’s American Representative. When a predecessor of Sir Ivor’s took office, I went to see him and introduced myself as the college’s American Rep. The incoming President asked me in return: “What does a College Rep… do?” So I explained: “I write a letter every November asking other alumni of Trinity to give money.” And he look at me, puzzled and he asked: “Why do you that?”

Since the Prime Ministership of the late Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, I am assured that no Oxford or Cambridge college president would ask that question today.

Sir Ivor was born in Liverpool, and is with us close to the 50th anniversary of the first visit to America of another touring group, the Beatles. Sir Ivor was educated at St. Mary's College, Crosby and was a Scholar at Keble College. He graduated in Modern Languages in 1968, and entered the Diplomatic Service, where he earned the four letters of his knighthood. 

He started in the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Lebanon, then Paris, then Luxembourg and back to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Canberra. Sir Ivor was sent to Madrid to be Minister in the British Embassy, then to Belgrade, first as ChargĂ© d'Affaires, and after recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the United Kingdom, as Ambassador. In Belgrade he conducted negotiations on behalf of the international mediators with both the Yugoslav authorities and the Bosnian Serbs and manged not to be shot dead by either side. You might say it was not a good sign if Sir Ivor was assigned to your country. It means Her Majesty is expecting trouble.

From 1998 to 1999 he was on a sabbatical as a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, Oxford. Next he served as British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, then Ambassador to Italy and to San Marino. He retired from the Diplomatic Service in 2006 upon the happy day for Trinity College, Oxford when he was elected President.

Since 1974 he has been married to Elizabeth Smith, now Lady Roberts, a scholar of French poetry and former diplomat in the Australian Foreign Service. She has been a University lecturer in Balkan history and has written a history of Montenegro published in 2006, the same year as the remake of the Montenegro-based James Bond movie, “Casino Royale”.

Sir Ivor speaks fluent Italian, French and Spanish and, he says -- and I have no basis for questioning his assertion– “passable Serbo-Croat". His hobbies include Italian opera, theatre, photography, skiing, golf and tennis.

Recognizing his distinguished career, in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours List he was named Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG). In the 2000 List his honor was raised to Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG).  Please join me in welcoming Sir Ivor.

Sir Ivor Roberts, KCMG, FCIL

Sir Ivor Roberts, KCMG FCIL President, Trinity College, Oxford

Oxonians, Cantabridgians, spouses, partners, friends and associates.

Thank you John, your welcome was more generous than that of the last person who introduced me with the simple words: “Pray for the silence of the President of Trinity.”

Indeed it was the sort of introduction that my father would have loved and my mother would have believed.

The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.

I was born in Liverpool the seaport on the west of the UK which has had most interconnection with the US from its colonial days. Despite having been a home to William Gladstone, it has not recently been thought of as the natural home of aesthetes and academics, statesmen and poets, rather a vigorous robust seaport with the usual concomitance of drink and violence.

Its contemporary fame rests on its music makers extraordinaire and its football team, and concomitant violence.

So in an attempt to provide a fresh softer focus for Liverpool, the city Elders recently decided on a plan to put into one of the tougher areas of Liverpool, a safari park to make the city more family friendly.

At a planning meeting with the city council and the town planners one of the town planners pointed out that the location of the park was in the middle of the most heavily residential area of the city.

“What,” asked the town planner, “would happen if one of the lions were to escape?” Quick as a flash one of the town councillors replied: “It’ll just have to take its chance like the rest of us."

There is always, as the Boat Race demonstrates, keen competition between the universities, but this is also reflected at college level. Trinity College Cambridge is, of course, the larger of the two Trinities And as a result we have to use our wits to hold our heads up in the presence of our richer and larger counterparts.

This was best illustrated to me by a story our Estates Bursar told about a lunch that he had with his opposite number at Cambridge. He was describing to him the fact that our College retained a modest estate in North Oxfordshire – the Wroxton Estate – as part of its original endowment, and it took him a couple of hours to stroll around it.

His opposite number gave a derisive laugh. “If I get into my car in the morning,” he said, “I can drive it as fast as it can do all the hours of daylight for two consecutive days, and I still would not have completed a tour of half our estates.”

Our Estates Bursar looked at him sympathetically and said: “Yes, I had a car like that once too”.

You are, I am sure, mainly interested in the reforms since you went down. Though your attitude to change might be like that of the 19th century statesman Lord Salisbury, who said “Change, change, why do we want more change? Aren't things bad enough as they are?”

Let us start with the...


In the old days they had a certain aversion to excessive labour, on your part or on theirs. My tutor gave me my first lecture list with the comment: "Nothing there that need detain you”!

One used to decline to give tutorials on Wednesdays because it spoilt both his weekends.

Another, when asked what precisely he was that he did, by a Government Inspector, replied “I give an annual lecture – but not you understand every year”.

They had a certain waspish style of speech. It was a former President of my College whose obituary said that “his biting wit was much admired by his ever-decreasing circle of friends.”

We are, of course, very much an academic institution. At the end of the road still lie the dreaded Finals. We have, alas, abolished the Fourth Class, traditionally awarded to candidates who gave long and brilliant answers to questions examiners had not asked.

One candidate who should surely have qualified for a Fourth wrote these words only on his paper: Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5.

The curious examiner looked it up in his Collected Shakespeare. It said: “I cannot do this bloody thing.”

While we are here to celebrate the Boat Race, I read recently about another boat race on the Seine River in Paris between Toyota and the Peugeot motor companies. Both teams practised long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The French, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was Toyota had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the Peugeot team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

So, Peugeot hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

So to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder, with meetings with celebrities, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was agreement on getting new oars, a new boat and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices, and a big bonus.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, Peugeot management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new boat, sold the oars, and cancelled all capital investment in new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India.

So much for rowing!

Oxford and Cambridge have, I'm sure you all know, played their part in the creation of the US. Oxonians made it both possible and inevitable for the American colonies to become independent. All of the eight colonies between New York and Florida were founded or once owned by an Oxonian.

Sir Walter Raleigh from Oriel founded the first colony, Virginia.

George Calvert, earl of Baltimore from Trinity Oxford, founded Maryland as a Catholic haven. Earl Granville from Christ Church founded the Carolinas and two of my college’s three Prime Ministers, who were bitterly opposed to each other, contributed in their respective ways to the creation of the US:
  • William Pitt the Elder chased the French out of Canada and ultimately out of the whole of North America, while 
  • Lord North so alienated the colonists by overtaxing them to pay for Pitt's wars, that he made their rebellion inevitable. (Pitt, incidentally, was vehemently opposed to making the colonies pay.)
William Penn of Christ Church founded Pennsylvania, of course.

And John Harvard of Emmanuel Cambridge gave his name to the incomparable Harvard, donating to it his library.

If the pioneering spirit of the Raleighs and the Pitts was evident in the 16th and 18th centuries, it has fully been taken over by the modern descendants of the original colonists.

What we most need in Oxford and Cambridge is an infusion of the best
qualities of this country -
  • a can-do spirit
  • an optimism which says that the goals of fairness and equality are achieved by leveling up and not by leveling down
  • a generosity of spirit and of substance to the institutions which nurtured us in our youth. 
It's this generosity, and not just of spirit, that has helped Oxford and Cambridge so much in recent years as our US alumni have so often stepped in as we become progressively more orphaned by the British state. We are collectively enormously indebted to our US alumni.

My college was Head of the River at Oxford for 17 years between 1938 and 1951. The College was then divided into three distinct groups of undergraduates.
  • The first group consisted of those who thought that the College was a boat club,
  •  the second group consisted of those who thought that the College ought to be a boat club, and 
  • the third group was a statistically insignificant number.
Matters have become more difficult, now that ability on the river counts for less than ability in the library or lab. in the admissions process.

Our Chaplain was questioning one aspirant theologian and oarsman, whose muscles were more obvious than his Christianity, and who appeared to have only a tenuous grasp of the New Testament, and a still lesser one of the Old.

So finally he asked him “what was it” in the book of Genesis of which it was said “it moveth slowly upon the face of the waters and is filled with all manner of strange beasts?”

And the schoolboy replied hopefully “The Balliol Schools VIII”?

Rowers don't always get the best press. You may remember reading about the rower who was down at the sea one day and saw a girl swimming a good distance out but circling her was an unmistakeable shark fin.

Without a moment's hesitation our intrepid oarsman threw himself in the sea, swam out to the girl, karate chopped the shark to death and swam back to land with the girl.

A man on the beach came up to our hero and said "that's the bravest thing I've ever seen. I'm a reporter for the local paper, I'd like to write that up. Tell me, what's your job?" "I'm a rower" said our hero.

The next day, the local paper carried the headline: "Rower kills girl's pet."

Wait, it's not over. Our hero is so disconsolate at this bad publicity that he decides to give up rowing and enter a Trappist monastery. The rules were very strict. A monk was only allowed to speak once every ten years and then only to utter two words. At the end of ten years, our hero said to the Abbot. "Bed hard". Another ten years went by and he then told the Abbot "food bad". Finally after another ten long years, he said to the Abbot "I quit".

The Abbot was very angry. "I knew this was coming" he said. "You've done nothing but complain for the last 30 years."

Well we've had nothing to complain about tonight. We've had a wonderful evening and are hugely grateful to our hosts.

I give you the toast. To our sponsors.

More Boat Race Dinner Information
Past BRDs  This Year's BRDs

Boat Race News - "The Oarsmen Weigh In" 

Danielle Rossingh of Bloomberg Sports reports on March 5 that American Steve Dudek will be rowing again in 2013 after winning over Oxford in the "interrupted" Boat Race on the Thames. The race is being called the BNY Mellon Boat Race, after its new sponsor, which for the first time ever will be a U.S.-based company.

Here are some highlights from her story:

Cambridge has an 81-76 lead in the series. 

Dudek is one of five returning Cambridge crew members. Acknowledging that the 2012 victory was "hollow" given the disruption, Dudek is looking forward to the Easter Sunday race on March 31. 

The race started in 1829 with a Cambridge student's challenge. This is the first time the Boat Race will have four U.S. crew members. Cambridge will have just one Brit on board. 

The women’s boat race is moving toward equal status with the men's race. It will this year be held a week earlier at Henley. Starting in 2015 they will be one the same day over the same course. 

Last year's demonstrator from Australia was protesting budget cuts in the UK. He has been adding to the UK's prison expenditure since September 2012, with a six-month sentence for creating a public nuisance. 

The event will be watched by 250,000 on the banks of the Thames and millions on television. [In 2012 A group of New Yorkers watched at a bar in Chelsea.] 

The Oxford crew outweighed Cambridge by 21 kilos, first time since 2009 that Oxford has been heavier. But the Cambridge women outweighed Oxford by 28.4 kilos. 
Oxford's crew is looking for vindication after last year's bizarre defeat. Oxford coach Sean Bowden has had eight victories since he started coaching in 1998. Two rowers return from last year. 

Contact: Danielle Rossingh on the London sports desk at Tip of the hat to Russell Dallen for alerting us to the London weigh-in.


Scheduled dates for 2013 dinners are provided below along with Oxford Alumni Networks listings for 2012/13. To add to or correct this list, contact

Phoenix - -

San Francisco - -

Joel Pace

Dinner chair George Keys (Balliol, Oxford)
Emcee James Fallows (Queen's, Oxford), Atlantic.
Toast to the Universities  by Katty Kay (Oxford), Lead anchor at BBC World News America
Response from the Universities by Gillian Tett (Clare, Cambridge), Financial Times

ILLINOIS - CHICAGO DINNER (74th) - April 12, 2013
Secretary-Treasurer John H. Morrison, OBE (Univ., Oxford)
John Morrison@BoatRace
Emcee Paul Svoboda (Queens' College, Cambridge)
Mr. Michael J. Dickenson (Christ's College, Cambridge) will report on the 159th Boat Race
Speakers Dr. Robin H. Walker (Queens' College, Cambridge)
Mr. Robert Chatterton Dickson (Magdalene, Cambridge), H.M. Consult General
Musical selections by the Chicago Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company

Philip Kirk Jones, Jr.

- Kansas City
Brandon Baeur
- St. Louis
David Pollack

Neil Malcolm

NEW YORK - NYC DINNER (80th Anniversary Gala) - April 11, 2013
Grace, Archbishop Peter Carnley (Emmanuel and St. John's, Cambridge)
Mr. Claude Prince (Kellogg, Oxford) will report on the 159th BNY Mellon Boat Race
Toast to the President, Dr. Julia Gog (Queens', Cambridge)
Toast to the Queen, Dr. John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, Oxford)
Toast to the Universities, H.M. Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott (New, Oxford)(tbc)
Response from the Universities, Sir Ivor Roberts (Keble, Oxford), President, Trinity, Oxford
The dinner is sponsored by BNY Mellon.


Russell Fisher

Donald McKenzie


Michael Brunet


Obituary, Denis B. Woodfield, second Chairman of the NYC Dinner (after Bruce Harvey), active in the running of the British Schools and Universities Foundation.

Photos of 80th Dinner by Peter Sealy

Program for 80th NYC Dinner April 11, 2013 and other North American Boat Race events