Sana Ayub

Dr Rowan Williams was officially admitted as Master of Magdalene College in a private ceremony today.

The former archbishop of Canterbury is the 35th Master of Magdalene and the first master in the history of the college to be elected by the fellows, following the retirement of Duncan Robinson at the end of last year.

Magdalene students and staff members gathered to watch the procession of fellows and the new Master through First Court. The procession was accompanied by a fanfare, which included music from Lord of the Dance, Abide with Me and Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer.

Around 20 undergraduates and graduates, who were selected through a ballot, attended the short ceremony in chapel in which Dr Williams declared that he would uphold the college statutes.

Sana Ayub

After the ceremony, Dr Williams said: "I am delighted and honoured to be joining the College as Master. My first priority is now to get to know this richly varied community, which has already proved exceptionally welcoming to myself and my family, and to work with them all to keep the College a place of warmth and co-operation, challenge and excellence."

The new Master received a positive reception from Magdalene students. JCR President Ali Meghji attended the ceremony: “We’re elated to welcome Lord Williams to Magdalene. We have the utmost confidence in his ability to continue building on Magdalene’s rich history.”

Andrew Webster, a third-year student studying medicine at Magdalene, added: “After a brief chat with Rowan, he seems like he will not only be an inspirational leader of Magdalene but also a man who can talk to and understands the needs of the students here. It was good to see many people from throughout college watching his admission, which demonstrated the community spirit that he is entering into.”

Dr Williams read theology at Christ’s as an undergraduate and taught in Cambridge for nine years, firstly at the theological college and then at the University itself. He was also previously dean and chaplain at Clare. In an interview with Varsity last year, he said that he had “great affection for the place”.

The new Master of Magdalene took his seat in the House of Lords as a life peer earlier this week.