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Candidate Statements: 10 March 2016


The following election will be contested. Candidates were invited to include with their nomination forms, a written statement of no more than 250 words, setting out his or her reasons for standing and qualifications for the office being sought. All statements will be published in the Gazette dated 25 February 2016.

Public Orator

Professor Wolfgang D C de Melo

Fra' John S C Eidinow

Dr Jonathan B Katz

Luke Pitcher


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Public Orator

Professor Wolfgang D C de Melo, MA MPhil DPhil Oxf, MA Lond, Fellow of Wolfson, Faculty of Classics

I believe that I could make a positive contribution to our University should I be elected to the position of Public Orator. I very much enjoy introducing and presenting honorands and distinguished guests, and I am certain that I could handle the Latin speeches and the English ones equally well.

I have worked on Latin for over two decades, and I am fluent in writing both prose and verse. In my student days, I was awarded both the Chancellor’s Latin Prose Prize and the Chancellor’s Latin Verse Prize, and now I assess submissions for these prizes together with Tobias Reinhardt and Richard Jenkyns.

I regularly teach the history of Latin, from Indo-European to Romance, and I have published extensively on all aspects of the Latin language, from metre and phonology to morphology, syntax, and stylistics. I have also edited and translated the comedies of Plautus for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press, five volumes).

I would bring to this position a mix of seriousness and gentle humour, which I believe would go down very well with the honorands and the members of our University. It would be an honour for me to provide my services as Public Orator.

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Fra' John S C Eidinow, MA Oxf, Dip Law City, Fellow of St Benet's Hall, Faculty of Classics

I attended my first Encaenia out of curiosity as an undergraduate in the late 1980s. Curiosity was replaced during the course of the ceremony by admiration of the wit and skill with which the Orator caught the achievements of his honorands and examined the year that had just passed. The Public Orator plays a significant role in the University’s ceremonial life. It would be an honour to try to follow in the footsteps of so many distinguished previous holders of the office.

Since 2004 I have been Fellow and Tutor in Classics and Director of Studies in Classics at St Benet’s Hall. I read Mods and Greats at Merton 1986-90, where I have been a Bodley Fellow since 2002 and a Lecturer in Latin since 1992. I have been Merton’s Dean of Degrees since 2002. I was a Pro-Proctor in 2002-03 and again in 2014-15. I have the title of Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Letters (Ancient World Group) at Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. I am on the Council of the Classical Association, and Honorary Secretary of the Horatian Society. I have been a revising translator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. I was also called to the Bar in 1992.

[204 words]

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Dr Jonathan B Katz, MA DPhil Oxf, Fellow of All Souls

‘Bright is the ring of words, when the right man rings them’. For Latinists with a taste for performance no role could be more attractive than that of Orator, offering as it does unique opportunities in representing the University through public speaking. I am one such Latinist, having over many years pursued my love of composition and declamation and frequently taken part in ceremonial and formal events. I engage enthusiastically with audiences, and am well used to appearing before them as speaker and also as a performing musician. As Master of the Queen’s Scholars from 1987, and Head of Classics from 2003, at Westminster School I was regularly called on to compose Latin, Greek and English honorific prose and verse passages and to train pupils to deliver these on public occasions. Since my student days I have had a strong interest in classical and English recitation, and have judged many competitions and coached many competitors. Back in Oxford for the last five years, as a lecturer in Classics and Sanskrit at St Anne’s and Brasenose, I have taught and trained students in classical languages, particularly in composition. In 2013 I composed and delivered the annual Latin Sermon in the University Church for St Anne’s College, choosing the theme of hospitality towards newcomers and strangers. University and public affairs, and the interaction between them, interest me greatly, and as Public Orator I would strive to ‘ring’ the right words in welcoming our visitors and honorands and representing our University to them.

[250 words]

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Luke Pitcher, MA Oxf, PG Cert Durham, Fellow of Somerville, Faculty of Classics

It would be an honour to serve as Public Orator, and an Office that I believe that I would discharge faithfully and well. As a Member of the Classics Faculty, who teaches Prose Composition, and has published on Latin Prose, I am well fitted to write the requisite speeches. I have deputized for the outgoing public orator in the past, and I composed and delivered the University Latin sermon in Hilary 2010.

[72 words]

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