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Univ North Working Party: Caroline Marriage

Caroline MarriageCaroline Marriage (1991, English) worked in publishing for several years at both OUP and Hodder Headline. She left publishing in 2001 to raise her children. Caroline lives in Suffolk with her husband, Paul Marriage (1991, History), and their children, Thomas, William and Eleanor. She is a member of the Univ North Working Party and the College Nursery subcommittee.

What brought you to Univ?

I had a wonderful English teacher called Nicholas Jardine. Without his belief in me I wouldn’t have had the courage to apply to Oxford. He suggested Univ and arranged for me to meet Professor Helen Cooper. It took away some of the fear and made applying seem like something I should do.

Was there anyone you met at Univ who particularly inspired you?

My fellow English undergrads were simply the brightest, kindest, most supportive group of people. We supported each other, we shared ideas, we even shared essays.

Of the academic staff, Helen Cooper, of course. We were mostly women in my English cohort, taught by a woman – quite unusual at the time. The other tutor I got on with especially well was Mishtooni Bose. Her attention to detail and academic rigour were inspiring.

Were there any memorable occasions?

Being part of Univ’s women’s hockey team that went on to win Cuppers. I was also a member of a rather spurious women’s rowing team. We all just wanted to go to the Boat Club dinner. It was worth it!

What did you learn at Univ that has resonated for you in your life since?

The value of kindness and the importance of keeping an open and inquiring mind.

Are you still in contact with people from Univ?

Err, my husband?! Univ, translated as the people I met there, is a cornerstone of my life. Most of my close friends are from those very special three years. One of the nicest things about growing older is the deepening and strengthening of those bonds. We have been through so much together.

Which aspects of the Univ North development most excite you?

The starting point for the whole project was the urgent need to provide accommodation for students, particularly postgraduates. Otherwise College is in danger of losing the best scholars to universities which can guarantee accommodation.

Univ North presents a unique opportunity to get this right in new and exciting ways. The idea of it being a “multi-generational community”, which has evolved as the project has been developed, is unique. I have always been strongly in favour of providing a nursery to support Univ families. It is about enabling choice; good nursery provision gives people options and that is to the College’s benefit.

I also love the landscape plans. The College has engaged a leading architect, Níall McLaughlin, and the internationally renowned landscaper, Kim Wilkie. As if that’s not enough to excite me, there is an orchard which has miraculously survived for hundreds of years, completely hidden away, amongst the intensely urban city-centre North Oxford. It is a truly special place. There is even a medlar.

Why should Old Members and Friends of the College support Univ North?

I think a better question would be “why would you not support Univ North?”! It is only the second time in Univ’s history that this kind of opportunity has presented itself; in terms of scale, vision, ambition – and legacy. It’s up to us to make it happen.

Why did you become a Univ donor?

Two reasons. The first is personal to us in that my husband, PJ, and I experienced a loss and we wanted something positive to come out of it. The second is that Univ has transformed our lives and given us so much that we wanted to give something back.

We have a sense of deep satisfaction that we are making a positive difference to people’s lives and we have met some wonderful people.

This feature was adapted from one first published in Issue 11 of The Martlet; read the full magazine here.

Photo: Suki Dhanda

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