The President of St John’s College, Sir Michael Scholar, has announced that he will retire in July 2012, bringing a 10-year academic career to a close.
Scholar was appointed to the position in August 2001, having previously held jobs at the Treasury and Barclay’s Bank.
Scholar said: “I have greatly enjoyed being President of St John’s. During my time here the College has continued its long-standing traditions of consistent academic success and wide access. I shall be sorry to leave, but that time comes round for all of us.’’
Mo Chatterji, a second year student at St John’s, said that although presidents can sometimes be “abstract figures” the departing St John’s President is “a very friendly man, who holds regular lunches, concerts and open lodgings”.
Chatterji continued: “He is also highly supportive of sports teams, and helps out student both financially and academically.”
Judith Roberts, a third year Medicine student, also spoke warmly about the President: “Sir Michael is a right babe. He’s friendly, and I also feel that he’s very nice about collections, especially if they don’t go too well.’
Martha Mackenzie, OUSU President-Elect and ex-President of St Johns JCR, said that Scholar ‘is always very helpful and particularly supportive of students. He is also keen on student participation within the college, which I think is a very good thing, as there can sometimes be blocks in place against this.”
Mackenzie is one of many students who enjoyed Scholar‘s regular open lodgings and appreciated his offer of lunch with every new student at the College.
Scholar courted controversy in the academic sphere last June, when The Oxford Student revealed that he was juggling his position as Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority alongside presidential duties at St John’s.
The current JCR president of the college, David Messling, does not believe that Scholar’s second job had a detrimental effect upon his role as President: “Sir Michael is very approachable and supportive in all areas of college life. He is absolutely committed to the role of President and clearly takes it seriously”, he said.
Scholar cited the completion of St John’s new Kendrew Quad so “all our undergraduates who want to live in college can do so”, and the acquisition of “the first French organ in Oxford or Cambridge” for the chapel as particular highlights in his tenure.
Having begun their application process last week, St John’s is yet to announce Scholar’s successor. The College has advertised the post in The Economist and is currently inviting “suitably qualified individuals” to apply for the position in writing.