A College Remembers: Dame Anne Warburton

10 June 2015

A service to celebrate the life of Dame Anne Warburton will take place on 4th Sept 2015.

Following the death of former College president, Dame Anne Warburton on 4th June 2015, we remember the significant role she played in the development of Lucy Cavendish. There is so very much to remember.

Dame Anne Warburton

Dame Anne became our fourth President in 1985, following a long career with the Foreign Service, which culminated in her 1976 appointment as Ambassador to Denmark, making her Britain’s first female ambassador.

On joining Lucy Cavendish College – shortly after our recognition as an Approved Foundation by the University of Cambridge – Dame Anne led us during an exciting period of progress. Throughout her nine-year presidency (1985-1994) she worked tirelessly to ensure that as the youngest College in Cambridge, we could offer student facilities worthy of our newfound status.

Dame Anne had a favourite saying - she ‘liked to make things happen’ and she certainly put these words into action. Her key aims for her presidency were to build confidence, encourage wider admissions and fund new buildings. In each of these areas her direct and purposeful approach reaped outstanding results.

Our present president, Janet Todd, remembers Dame Anne and her continuing enthusiasm for the College: ‘She was a wonderful role model, carving out a brilliant career when it was difficult indeed for women to rise to the top. When I became president in 2008 Dame Anne at once invited me to her cottage and gave me hugely good advice, along with a generous tea.  I relished her enjoyment of her country place, her friends and her visiting wild birds.    She was a most impressive lady and yet did not overwhelm. I don’t know anyone who had a finer sense of proportion.  Those who knew her from the College will greatly miss her.’

Many of the facilities we benefit from today began with Dame Anne’s vision. She led our first building project to create Oldham Hall, oversaw the purchase of Marshall House and planned the development of both De Brye and Warburton Halls. It was also her correspondence with two legacy donors from New York that resulted in funding for the creation of our Music Pavilion.

Student numbers also flourished, growing from 77 to 133 between 1988 and 1993. New admissions initiatives were launched, including our first Open Day for prospective students, links with HE Colleges and promotions to national women’s organisations. The number of research fellows increased, as Dame Anne felt they represented ‘very much one of the key functions of the College, to add to the reservoir of academic women’.

Four Presidents with Dame AnneOutside Lucy Cavendish, Dame Anne’s influence and achievements were numerous. In Cambridge University she was elected to the Council of the Senate and chaired the University Commission on Overseas Grants. She was also an Equal Opportunities Commissioner and in 1992/3 led a committee established by the European Council of Ministers to investigate abuse suffered by Muslim women in Bosnia.

Perhaps, above all, Dame Anne’s greatest achievement was how she ‘made things happen’. Christine Houghton, our Domestic Bursar recalls:

‘As a leader, Dame Anne fostered a great sense of community amongst staff, students and fellows, uniting us to achieve significant progress in our College facilities.’

Dame Anne herself spoke of achieving change without damaging the ‘special qualities of friendliness, of caring and mutual support which have always been characteristic of Lucy Cavendish.’

Reflecting on her time at Lucy Cavendish, Dame Anne felt that: ‘Perhaps the greatest personal reward for me is to see undergraduates, some of whom are so unsure of themselves when they first come up, being able to say when they leave ‘Now I can do something.’’

Today, it seems appropriate that Warburton Hall – Dame Anne’s vision and namesake – sits at the very heart of our College. As we enjoy lunch or attend formal hall in this magnificent building, we can reflect on her extraordinary life. We can also ensure that the qualities of friendliness and mutual support that Dame Anne recognised in Lucy Cavendish continue to thrive, as we all work towards doing something … amazing.

Quotes from Dame Anne Warburton sourced from The Opportunity To Be Myself.                                                                        

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:                            About Lucy Cavendish College

Lucy Cavendish is the only women's college in Europe exclusively for students aged 21 or over, and a unique part of the University of Cambridge. Its undergraduate and postgraduate students come from over sixty countries, and a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Many have changed careers or overcome significant challenges in order to reach University. The College is particularly strong in Medicine, Law, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, the Social Sciences and English. 2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of Lucy Cavendish College in 1965

Contact information:

Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge – Jeanette Ariano, Communications & Marketing Manager, 01223 768426 ja530@cam.ac.uk



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