Professor Christopher Kelly is currently college President, Director of Studies and Keeper of College Pictures and Fine FurnitureRoger Kidd

Professor Christopher Kelly has been announced as the 52nd Master of Corpus Christi College, following Stuart Laing who will retire in August 2018.

Kelly, a classicist and historian, is currently Director of Studies in Classics at Corpus, as well as being the College President. In an official announcement, the College said that he will commence his new position as Master on 2nd August 2018, and that it will be held for ten years.

Corpus Senior Tutor, Dr Marina Frasca-Spada, called Kelly a “major intellectual presence” and said he “is passionately committed to Corpus, to the welfare and academic success of both students and Fellows, and to the continued excellence of our collegiate University.”

“This is fantastic news, not just for Professor Kelly but also for Corpus,” said Flis O’Toole, Corpus JCR’s President this year and a 2017 graduate in Classics. “Professor Kelly was an incredibly kind and supportive Director of Studies during a tough final year, and having also worked with him as JCR President I know he always has the College’s best interests at heart. I look forward to seeing how well he gets on in his new job.”

Kelly was previously the Chairman of the Faculty of Classics, and responsible for their submission to REF2014, which ranked Classics at Cambridge first in the country. Regarding his appointment to Master, he said:

“I firmly believe that it is important for Corpus to promote academic excellence at all levels and to underwrite that success by increased access and outreach initiatives, and by securing additional support against the rising costs of undergraduate and graduate education.

Kelly is a Professor of Classics and Ancient History and Laurence Lecturer in ClassicsCorpus Christi College/University of Cambridge

“The Master is essential to the public face of the College in fostering and encouraging a wider sense of the Corpus community, especially amongst Old Members, and in ensuring that the College plays a prominent role both within and beyond the University.”

For some past Corpuscle undergrads, Kelly’s recent appointment is a controversial one. Some ‘old members’ took to Facebook to complain following Corpus’s announcement, which was posted on Monday evening.

“An irony for the vintage of 1999!”, one former student said, with another adding: “It's a little disappointing that, with over 7 billion people to choose from, the wonderful Corpus picked Mr Kelly – a man who revelled in antagonising the student body. Floreat antiqua domus.”

As Senior Tutor from 1999, Kelly made a number of changes to the college, which are detailed in a webpage entitled ‘Why We Hate Dr Kelly’ – created in the early 2000s on a University website subdomain. The page, which is hosted on the Student-Run Computing Facility, admits a personal bias before detailing the controversies the soon-to-be-Master’s time in the senior roles in the college.

The page also includes a picture of Kelly, edited to look like the devil. It is claimed that an anonymous visitor to the site copied the picture, enlarged it and made photocopies which they put in every pigeon-hole in Corpus.

Discussed at length is Kelly’s introduction of an academic room ballot and the temporary closure of the college bar during his tenure as Senior Tutor, which were the subject of articles in The Times, in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The articles allege that the unpopularity of the room ballot, which gave the best rooms to the students with the best results, lead to a ‘unanimous vote of no confidence’ for Kelly. Responding to this, Kelly wrote a letter which The Times published in July 2000, defending his decision and refuting the claims made in the original article.

Things have been more settled in Corpus in recent years, though there was some consternation among students earlier this year around rules for overnight guests in the college, which were seen by some as draconian.

Although the decision was made by the Governing Body on July 12th, Corpus did not formally announce the appointment until this week.

Corpus did not respond to a request for comment