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Tom Schrecker Dinner 2022

Photo of a lively formal dinner in hall, people are smiling, eating and havingUniv was thrilled to hold the Tom Schrecker Dinner once again on 8 March this year for the first time since 2019. The Hall was filled to the brim with students, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal in the company of friends and colleagues.

These annual dinners are a gift from Mr Thomas Schrecker (1952, History), who was a history undergraduate at Univ from 1952 to 1955. He was born in 1932 in Prague, Czechoslovakia to Jewish parentage. After the Nazi occupation in March 1939, thanks to Sir Nicholas Winton’s rescue mission, Tom was able to leave the country on a train to England.

The Master opened the evening with a very moving speech not only about Tom and his story, but also how much the Dinner meant to the College after such difficult and turbulent times. Tom is known for regarding dining together, with new people as well as old friends, and the good conversation that is part of it, as essential to true education. He believes it is a civilising and enhancing experience by which we learn to understand and respect people in their rich diversity. He regrets the decline of formal Hall since his days at Univ, especially during the pandemic, so hopes that the Schrecker Dinner will help to revive this special feature of College life.

Professor Polly Jones and Dr Rajendra Chitnis

Professor Polly Jones, Schrecker-Barbour Tutorial Fellow in Slavonic and East European Studies and Dr Rajendra Chitnis, Ivana and Pavel Tykač Supernumerary Fellow in Czech, were both in attendance. They work closely with one another and are in contact with Tom at every opportunity to update him on their teaching and research. The Master, several other Fellows, and almost 200 students were also dining.

“My interest in Univ is particularly concerned with the undergraduate body. I hope Oxford and Univ will continue to maintain as large a percentage of them as possible. I hope, also, that funding will enable as many undergraduates as possible to “live on the high” for as long as possible and that the College will continue to encourage social contact between them and the passing on of the best of traditions. This explains my interest in formal in-Hall dinners. The choir, music, Martlets and other aspects of College life are important too, especially given the isolation tendencies of the cyber world. These isolation pressures have perhaps come into clearer focus because of the pandemic.” – Tom Schrecker (1952, History), University College Foundation Fellow and benefactor of this Dinner

It is believed by many that the Tom Schrecker Dinner will play a huge role in re-establishing formal hall at the College after the tradition understandably dipped somewhat throughout COVID and recent staffing issues.

Univ is deeply grateful to Tom and his family for this generous benefaction and the support he has shown for the Schrecker-Barbour Tutorial Fellowship in Slavonic and East European Studies. He was elected as a Foundation Fellow in 2007, an honour which is awarded to those individuals who have made exceptional benefactions to the College and therefore have been essential in ensuring Univ’s community can continue to thrive.

Published: 19 May 2022

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