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An Oxbridge Master Writes

Alma Mater College, Cambridge. Once a seat of learning dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences, it has been re-purposed for the twenty-first century and is now a vital cog in an increasingly slick money-making machine.

As the eponymous Three Wise Men - who were clearly well-trained and well-disciplined Oxbridge alumni once wisely avowed, "it is better to give than to receive". Had they been alive today I am pretty confident they would have modified their timeless message only by inserting the words "to your Oxbridge college" after the "give" and before the "than". Otherwise, it remains a message both for the ages and for the here and now.

As I write, the outer walls of our £45 million leisure centre are beginning to rise just behind First Court and I am pleased to announce that not only have we now completed funding for this project - which will greatly extend our ability to make more money in future - but that we are already well on the way to planning the next ["casino"] phase of our vital new development. No longer will the College have to rely on the old fashioned and frankly cumbersome business of admitting students, awarding them degrees irrespective of intellectual status and then importuning them for donations in return; rather we can streamline the whole process by simply making money through our extensive property development portfolio. To further this aim the Bursar has been tasked with reimagining our no-longer-fit-for-purpose lecture and study rooms and putting them to better commercial use. This is the modern Oxbridge way and one of which we are confident our founder ["Lord Landgrab of Stourpaine] would have approved.

Alumni will know that our 1548 charter establishes the College as a place of "education, religion, science and learning" and I am pleased to say that the Governing Body recently approved a change to these statutes to bring them into line with current practice by adding the term "money laundering" to that estimable list of aspirations. Some may think this a touch craven and even self-serving, but as the Regius Profesor of Philosophy, Ethics and Creative Accountancy recently wrote, "money is not in and of itself a dirty word, whilst laundry implies the cleansing of taint; for this reason, we can be confident that as a process "pecuniam lavare" is "et in ipso", a process likely to deliver a profound and fundamentally decent social good".

So, in sending you your College's greeting at this special time of year, I am also asking you to give practical effect to your abiding sense of gratitude and obligation by digging deeper into your pockets than ever before. Our dream of a College that anyone who has the wherewithal to pay a substantial lump sum or offer sound financial advice can enter will not, alas, pay for itself.


Hawthorn Stragglybeard [Master]

Issued on behalf of Alma Mater College Holdings Inc

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