Mr Richard Smethurst: Still my favorite host ever
You can read more about him here: Richard Smethurst.
Note: this post is really just a random memory that came into my head today...
I think about Richard Smethurst quite often--probably because he gave me two of my best memories during my time in Oxford, when I traveled there with the Alabama at Oxford program to England. Our group camped out in the luxurious (seriously) dorms at Worcester College, and a couple of nights before our stay was complete, Smethurst invited the faculty to a lovely formal dinner.
I don't have any photos of that evening, but let's just say that it was very elegant and the most amazing experience. He also hosted a garden Pimms party for our students the next evening, right before our final formal hall. (You can see the garden party photos here. I am looking pale and exhausted from spending an entire day at the Bodleian library....but keep scrolling down, because I look much better at dinner...post several Pimms.)
(Smethurst at our student/faculty garden party on our last night in Oxford. He is talking to my friend and faculty member, Allen Jones, and a student. I think this photo captures his personality perfectly!)
Anyway, one of the best memories is not something I can repeat on here because it would just be me indulging in a little schadenfreude...and I shouldn't do that...at least publicly. But the other memory, like I said, was the experience of the dinner party. Though I am sure Smethurst rather would have spent his time with more exciting people, he made us feel incredibly welcome and important. In some ways, he was like an old southern gentleman. He made sure that all of us were included in conversations--even me, the lowest of the low on the prestige totem pole. I was grateful for the entire experience, and when I hear the word "Gentleman," I automatically associate it with this man.
I found out that he retired as Provost, so I hope that he is enjoying life. And, thank you, again, Mr. Smethurst!