Former President Professor Sir Steve Cowley was delighted that during a visit to Oxford this week he was able to meet four of the College’s six Cowley Scholars and to hear first-hand the impact that the Cowley Scholarships scheme has had at Corpus.

The Cowley Scholarships in the Humanities were established in June 2018 by Cristóbal Conde and Kamaryn Tanner in honour of Professor Sir Steve Cowley. The funding situation for humanities in particular is a matter of continuing concern for the College, and as state support dwindles, many graduate students are unable to take up their offers of study at Oxford for financial reasons. We are therefore extremely grateful to Cris and Kamaryn for their generosity, which enables students to read a postgraduate degree in a subject offered by the Humanities Division, giving the world’s brightest students the opportunity to benefit from the unique advantages of an Oxford education, regardless of their background or financial circumstances.

The scholarships are in partnership with the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership Scheme, and they enable Corpus to support two fully-funded DPhil students each year, including a stipend for living costs. The six Cowley Scholars specialise in a range of subjects, including History of Art, Ancient History, Classics, English and History.

As Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Steve’s ability to travel to the UK has been impacted by Covid, so the College also took the opportunity of his visit to unveil his portrait, which will join those of other former College Presidents in the Hall.

We were delighted that artist Antony Williams was present for the unveiling.  He said: “The sittings with Steve took place at my studio on an island in the Thames near Hampton. I decided that as the sittings were in my studio, the background in the painting should be fairly neutral, with all the emphasis mainly on Steve's face and the stripey shirt he wore to the sittings. The technique for the painting is egg tempera, an ancient painting technique employing the yolk of an egg as a binder for the pigments which are then diluted with water. The portrait was built up with layers of small touches of paint using very fine sable brushes. I believe l had four or five sittings with Steve over a six-month period, using each sitting to refine and develop the painting further, with the intention of not only producing a likeness but capturing something of Steve's character through the intense observation of his face."