Corpus appoints historically divisive Senior Tutor as new Master

Image credit: Matteo De Felice

Corpus Christi has appointed Professor Christopher Kelly as the 52nd Master of the College who will start his tenure from August 2018.

Kelly is a Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Cambridge who has worked as a supervisor and Director of Studies in the department, as well as serving as a Fellow, and as Senior Tutor for a time at the College. He will take over from Dr Stuart Laing who will step down in August 2018 after nearly 10 years in the senior role. 

Upon being made the incoming Master, Professor Kelly remarked: “Corpus is a great college. I cherish this opportunity to serve and support its community – and to work hard to take the College forward.”

The new appointment has been met warmly by Corpus’ Senior Tutor, Dr Marina Frasca-Spada, who described Professor Kelly as “a major intellectual presence in Corpus”, who is “passionately committed to Corpus, to the welfare and academic success of both students and Fellows, and to the continued excellence of our collegiate University.”

However, Kelly has not always been a popular figure amongst the Corpus student body. During his time as Senior Tutor from 2000 to 2004, a number of decisions made by College staff, led by the then-Dr Kelly, were heavily criticised by students with some publicly airing their grievances online.

A webpage entitled ‘Why we hate Dr. Kelly’, which was last updated in 2002 and explicitly states its bias, denounces Kelly’s tenure as Senior Tutor as “a tragedy”, and provides a number of instances where students strongly disagreed with the decisions of College staff.

This includes the introduction of a room balloting system based on academic performance, which allegedly Kelly then defended in a letter to The Times, and the abolition of the contemporary college family system, for supporting freshers, weeks before the start of the next academic year.

Upon his recent appointment as Master, some alumni Corpus took to social media to express their dismay, seemingly alluding to this turbulent time – one wrote: “An irony for the vintage of 1999!”

Professor Kelly is quoted on the Corpus Christi College website as stating that the position of Master is “essential to the public face of the College in fostering and encouraging a wider sense of the Corpus community, especially amongst Old Members, and in ensuring that the College plays a prominent role both within and beyond the University.”

He also highlights the importance “for Corpus to promote academic excellence at all levels and to underwrite that success by increased access and outreach initiatives, and by securing additional support against the rising costs of undergraduate and graduate education.”

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