Benedict Cumberbatch and Emma Watson have been appointed as visiting fellows at Oxford University.
“They are people drawn from a variety of backgrounds, callings and professions and we want them to form a bridge between our own academic community and the worlds they inhabit and represent,” Alan Rusbridger, the principal of Oxford University, said in a press release.
The positions are part-time and are intended to add to the cultural life of the college, according to Rusbridger.
“At a minimum we’d like them to drop in occasionally at college, eat with us and meet informally with a variety of the LMH community,” Rusbridger said. “We’d like them to do one thing a bit more structured. It could be a conversation or debate, a performance, a lecture or seminar, a form of outreach – or something we haven’t thought of. We can imagine fascinating interactions or collaborations between them. They are welcome to come and stay in college if they’d like a place temporarily to think or work. And some have already suggested other ways in which they might engage with a body of 700 incredibly smart students and tutors in order to stimulate their own thinking or work in progress.”
A list of possible visiting fellows was drawn up by the college’s governing body, and then narrowed down by a committee. Ultimately only one person approached by the college turned it down.
“Some of the names we announce today did not go to university,” Rusbridger said. “One left school at 16. We think we can learn much from them – and we hope they treasure their time with us.”
Cumberbatch studied for a BA in drama at Manchester University and has an MA in classical acting, and Watson has a degree from Brown University.
“Some of those dinners were eclectic affairs,” Rusbridger said of his time meeting with fellows as a student. “Alongside the students and tutors there would be bishops, bankers, spies, journalists and economists. Lord Nuffield, it seemed to me, was on to something: this was a way of enriching the life of a college and its students, and of blowing oxygen through the corridors.”
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