Goodenough College and the Commonwealth

The College works hard to retain and strengthen its relationships with Commonwealth countries.

On Monday 13 March 2023, the Commonwealth Day service will be held in the presence of the King at Westminster Abbey. It will be the first of His Majesty’s reign and therefore a special one. We are delighted that Commonwealth College Members have been invited to attend, and are sure it will prove to be a memorable occasion.

The Commonwealth has always featured prominently in our College life. For those familiar with Goodenough College’s history you will recall that the first residents were British and Commonwealth citizens. By December of 1931, the first residents included Clive Fitts from Australia, Percy Niehaus from South Africa, Hubert Rogers from the UK, South African Cliff Naudé, Canadian Walter Bilbrough, French Canadian Léon Mayrand, Australian Rhodes Scholar Brian Malgraith, Canadian Oakley Dalgleish and Joe Culliton on sabbatical from McGill University in Montreal.

The College’s original mission was to provide a convenient and welcoming place to live for scholars, from the UK and the ‘Dominions and Colonies’, who were looking to pursue academic study at the University of London. Although the College is now international our links with the Commonwealth remain important.

Goodenough College is a member of the Council of Commonwealth Societies and has formal links to the Royal Family and the Commonwealth. While the College retains a membership in which at least 50% are citizens of Commonwealth countries, we have made recent pushes to expand our shared links with other Commonwealth focused organisations, charities and representatives.

College Director Alice Walpole, a former British diplomat (and former UN Assistant Secretary-General), has a wealth of experience within the diplomatic community and, following a successful outreach to British High Commissioners abroad last year, she has begun in earnest a programme of engagement with the Commonwealth nations’ representatives based in London.

The College’s relationship with the Commonwealth has always been a source of pride and has been of benefit to Members from outside the Commonwealth as well. With regional focused weeks, cultural dining in nights, and a wealth of events organised by Members and through the Dean’s programme and the Director’s Office, Members have plenty of opportunities to engage with communities from all over the world.

Later this spring, Alice Walpole and the College’s Director of Development will be visiting our friends and Alumni in Canada, so those in the area might wish to look out for upcoming dates of receptions.

On Wednesday 1 March the College welcomed back a notable Alumnus His Excellency Stephen Smith, the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. The Director hosted His Excellency, along with ten of the College’s Australian Members, for an engaging lunch, during which the High Commissioner discussed his vision for his tenure; opportunities for strengthening the partnership between Britain and Australia; and the impact that Goodenough College has had on his life.

The Director will also be hosting a lunch for London-based Caribbean High Commissioners very soon. We are fortunate to have Alumna Karen Mae Hill, the High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, to help us in arranging the event. This will follow on from a recent visit by College Members to the West Indian Committee where we learned about the Committee’s mission in strengthening bonds between countries in the Caribbean and Britain and their work (through their library and archival research) in better understanding the history of the region. Our Members found there was much to learn about the world right on their doorstep and that Goodenough, through its links and relationships, offers privileged access to some of the world’s leading academics and leaders.