Hugh Grant has been elected Honorary Fellow at New College. Limited to 40 people, this is the ‘College’s highest award and is bestowed upon distinguished Old Members.’ It is presented to those with a sustained achievement in their chosen field.
The Dean of New College, Michael Burden, said, ‘There is no particular reason why the election was made at this time, and there are no expectations that an Honorary Fellow will do anything for the college. They may do so, but this is not a condition of election.’
Last Tuesday, Grant attended a Fellows’ Dinner, for purposes linked to his appointment. He then accompanied students to the JCR college bar, much to the delight of many undergraduates. A New College first year described Grant as ‘swamped’ with a group of fans.
The student continued, ‘I think it was really nice of him to come to the bar, and so many of us were waiting for him there! This has exceeded my expectations of Oxford – meeting abona fide celebrity in the first few weeks of being here!’
Not all students were equally impressed, however. Second year Classicist Poppy Rimington-Pounder commented, ‘He took so long to actually come to the bar to meet us. He’s not really quite good-looking enough to make us wait that long – I left.’
During the visit he joined the rugby team for a drink, and was presented with a club tie. Unlike on some of his previous trips to Oxford, he did not continue the party with New College students at a nightclub afterwards.
Few students have strong feelings about Grant receiving the Honorary Fellowship. JCR Vice-President Alexander May, speaking, on behalf of the undergraduate body, said, “I would say that the general feel was that it was a nice novelty, but not massively important.’
Sam Sharpe, a second year New College PPE-ist said, “I don’t really care about him being an Honorary Fellow or not. He did seem like a nice guy, and it’s good of him to come back. That, and About a Boy is a good movie.’
Leah Lazar, a second year classicist at New, added, ‘If his fellowship means he will be in the New College bar on a regular basis, then I’m all for it!’
Grant won the Galsworthy scholarship to study English at New College in 1979. He graduated in 1981 with a 2:1.
According to the New College website, Grant ‘abandoned doctoral studies in art history and soon became one of the most preeminent and successful actors of his generation.’
Indeed, Grant was involved in acting during his time at Oxford, with a part in his first film, Privileged, produced by the Oxford University Film Foundation, when he was a member of OUDS.
Nor did Grant go unnoticed by this publication during his undergraduate career: in 1981, Hugh Grant was described in Cherwell’s John Evelyn’s gossip column as ‘New College’s answer to Brooke Shields.’