A Principal’s blog is a delicate balance between the informative and (occasionally) reflective. Over a three-year period of blogging intermittently, I found the reflection more difficult to write, because of the need to be reasonably discreet, and not to cause inadvertent offence. Certain anecdotes about Somerville and the University could be hilarious, but not to some. In the digital ether at large there are all too many instances, some of them very public, where the reader of the content understands something quite different from what was intended by its author. There is little guidance out there on navigating the ocean of possible misunderstanding by an unseen, unknown audience. Ultimately the best moral and cultural compasses for each of us are our own.
I began to feel I had run out of variations on the theme of College life, and as each pressing question succeeds to another, it becomes too easy to let them pass unremarked. So this is a fresh start. This is a season to celebrate, with graduation parties mainly past, and a whole new cohort of students arriving in Somerville. By way of welcome to the new academic year, here is the text of a speech I gave at the First Year dinner in college last week; including a bit of text that I cut as I went along, and lacking some of the ad hoc embellishments. It was a lovely dinner, and a great occasion, to which our first-rate chef and kitchen and catering staff did full justice.