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Profile: Martha Cass

Martha Cass at Summer Eights

Martha Cass, Deputy Director of Development

Martha Cass is Deputy Director of Development at Univ. She was Head of Alumni Relations at Oxford Brookes University until January 2019. She first came to Univ in 2013 as Major Gift Manager. 

How did you come to work at Univ?
I had been working at the University of Birmingham, and came to work at Univ when my daughter got a scholarship for 6th Form at St Clare’s. I left for a few years in 2016 but came back when the Master invited me to hold the fort in the Development Office before Gordon arrived.

What does being the Deputy Director of Development involve?
As DDD I help to bring in funds for the College, mainly from Old Members. It’s also my job to manage the Old Members’ Trust, Young Univ, and Univ in the Arts, the latter with the help of DPhil student Corinna Hartinger. I manage two colleagues in the Office, and also do a lot of drafting for correspondence and proposals. I’m also responsible for Legacies, and (along with Julie) for remembering things about Old Members from many years ago!

Do you have any favourite moments from all the Univ events you’ve been to/worked at?
I guess my favourites are the ones where, even though there are difficulties, it all comes out right in the end. For example, we were once running a large dinner in Hall which had an intricate seating plan. But during the drinks before dinner, someone asked for a change, and we had to re-do the whole thing before dinner started. Then just before dinner another person had another request, and we had to do it all over again! But due to the amazing skill of the Hall staff, hardly anyone noticed that anything unusual was happening, and it all went off smoothly. Success.

Either that, or the ones where you just have an amazing conversation with someone you’d never met before.

How are you finding working at home?
Though I miss seeing my colleagues, and being in College, I do like working at home. It’s great to NOT have to commute from Gloucestershire—I have my mornings back, which is wonderful.

Do you have any funny stories from your time at Univ?
There are many, but my children tell me that I am terrible at telling jokes, so if I try to relate one, it would probably fall flat!

What do you do in your spare time (I’ve heard something about music…)?
Yes, my original focus in life was music, and I used to spend an awful lot of time practising. But apart from singing and a little teaching I gave most of it up when I was 20. A tale for another time…

Meanwhile I’m an appalling bibliophile and spend far too much on books. In lockdown as I’ve been in the countryside I’ve been studying soil and land regeneration, and how these are related to climate change. It’s great to know that there are things we can all do that actually make a difference.

Describe Univ in three words…
Venerable—as it is one of the oldest institutions I have anything to do with. Being nearly 800 years old, Univ is like an old lady worthy of respect.

Beautiful—because it just is

And for the third one I am not sure of the exact word for this but I’ll go with “convivial”—because, outside of its academic aspect, it is a place for conversation and the building of relationships that matter in people’s lives.

Published: 29 March 2021

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