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Faculty of Classics

Mary Beard ©Robin Cormack

A new University post linked to Newnham will continue a College tradition of teaching, research, and taking Classics out into the wider world that goes back more than a century to Jane Harrison.  

Newnham College, Cambridge is launching the Onassis Classics Fellowship in order to secure a permanent position for the teaching of Classical Studies at Newnham College. The Onassis Classics Fellowship at Newnham College is a result of a joint fundraising campaign between Newnham College and the Faculty of Classics. Generous donations have been made by Newnham alumnae and other anonymous donors, and the funding target has been reached as a result of a large gift from the Onassis Foundation, which has also promised generous ongoing support for postgraduate Classics students at Newnham.  

“We are happy to be supporting the exceptional, internationally-acclaimed, and long-standing work being done in Classical Studies at the University of Cambridge, an institution that has sustained such distinguished professors as Mary Beard and Pat Easterling,” noted the President of the Onassis Foundation, Anthony S. Papadimitriou. With this fellowship, the Onassis Foundation is assisting Newnham to preserve and expand Classics teaching and research around the world. Since diversity, equality, and inclusivity are among its prime concerns, the Foundation is also investing in this partnership as a means of bolstering and highlighting the value of women’s ongoing contributions to the academic sector.

The new post will increase the number of University posts in Classics for the first time for many years, and comes at a time when, in the space of four years, the number of MPhil students has more than doubled, from c.30 to over 70, creating serious pressures on the existing academic staff.

Robin Osborne, Chair of the Faculty of Classics, said: ‘By adding their generous donation to the gifts from many others, the Onassis Foundation have ensured that the great Newnham tradition in the subject, represented most recently and illustriously by Mary Beard, will continue into the future.’

It is hoped that it will be possible to appoint in time to fill the post from September 2022 when Mary will retire. Mary writes ‘I have been privileged and proud to have been associated with Classics in Cambridge since I came up as an undergraduate in 1973. Classics is a subject that is as much about the future as it is about the past, and we need it now more than ever. Cambridge has a long tradition of cutting edge, radical research in Classics, combined with a huge impact in public engagement, going back to the nineteenth century (with the Classical revolutionary and celebrity Jane Harrrison, as well as more recently Moses Finley and Pat Easterling).  I am over the moon that this tradition will be able to continue and thank those who have made it possible from the bottom of my heart.’

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