Kellogg’s first Proctor is admitted

17 March 2016
group shot

From left to right: Jeremy Gibbons, Elizabeth Gemmill, Alis Oancea and Jonathan Michie. Photo: John Cairns

Kellogg presented its first Proctor to the University of Oxford in a ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday 16th March 2016.

Oxford’s proctors are senior academic officers elected by colleges who ensure that the University operates according to its statutes. These officers are the Senior Proctor and the Junior Proctor. The Assessor is the third officer, who is responsible for student welfare and finance. Dr Elizabeth Gemmill, Associate Professor in Local History and Director of the Department’s Weekly Class Programme, has been admitted as Junior Proctor. She joins Dr Mark Whittow (Corpus Christi College) who has been admitted as Senior Proctor, and Luke Pitcher (Somerville) who has been admitted as the Assessor.

Despite the hierarchical sounding titles of ‘Senior’ and ‘Junior’, the two Proctors’ roles have equal authority and status. The appellation ‘Senior’ in this case refers to the nominee who has held their MA degree the longer. By convention, the Senior Proctor has special responsibilities in research degrees and the Junior Proctor for taught degrees. The Assessor is typically involved with student health and welfare matters.

Elizabeth is the first Proctor to be elected by Kellogg, which was founded 26 years ago. Professor Tom Buchanan was Kellogg’s first Assessor, and served in 2003-04.

Each Proctor nominates deputies, known as Pro-Proctors. Elizabeth Gemmill nominated Professor Jeremy Gibbons (Department of Computer Science) and Associate Professor Alis Oancea (Department of Education) who were also admitted during the formal ceremony.


Elizabeth Gemmill being presented to the Vice-Chancellor by Kellogg President Jonathan Michie. Photo: John Cairns

The ceremony for admission began with each Proctor being escorted from their College by their head of house and other College officials, preceded by one of the Bedels, and wearing the gowns appropriate to the office of Proctor and the hood and other academic dress appropriate to a Master of Arts. Once in the Sheldonian both outgoing Proctors gave up the insignia of their office; the statute book and the keys. The new Proctors were then presented to the Vice-Chancellor by their head of College with the following formula:

‘Insignissime Domine Vice-Cancellerie, praesento tibi hunc egregium virum (or hanc egregiam feminam) A. B. in Artibus Magistrum (or in superiore aliqua Facultate Baccalaureum or Doctorem) e Collegio N. secundum statuta in alterum Procuratorum hujus Universitatis electum (or electam), ut ad munus Procuratorium istius Universitatis in annum sequentem obeundum admittatur.’

The Vice-Chancellor and Kellogg Honorary Fellow, Louise Richardson, then said to each Proctor:

‘Magister, tu dabis fidem, quod ea omnia et singula quae ad officium (senioris or junioris) Procuratoris istius Universitatis spectant, bene et fideliter, et indifferenter, quatenus te et officium tuum concernunt, omnimoda partialitate seposita, durante tuo officio, exequeris; et executionem eorundem per deputatos tuos, quantum in te est, procurabis.’

To which each Proctor replied: ‘Do fidem.’

The Vice-Chancellor then handed to each of them the insignia of their office, the statute book and the keys, and proceeded to admit them to office with the following formula:

‘Egregie Magister, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad officium Procuratoris istius Universitatis in annum sequentem; necnon ad reliqua omnia praestanda et peragenda, quae ad munus vel officium Procuratoris spectant.’

Each Proctor then nominated their deputies who, at the request of the Vice-Chancellor, followed the same undertaking as the Proctors for admission.

On being elected Proctor, Elizabeth Gemmill said, ‘One of Oxford’s distinctive strengths is that its academic staff play a crucial part in decision-making and in upholding the University’s structures and procedures. The role of the Proctors embodies that principle and I am delighted to have been elected as Kellogg’s first Proctor.’

The office of Proctor dates from at least 1209; and Elizabeth Gemmill is a medieval historian, with research interests including ecclesiastical patronage rights and the character of the diocesan clergy, prices of consumables, and valuations in medieval inquisitions.