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On Friday 21 June, more than 200 members of our department gathered for our summer party, held this year in honour of Professor Richard Hobbs, our outgoing Head of Department. The party was a perfect blend of celebration and reflection, marking the end of Richard’s 13-year tenure at the helm.

A crowd of people in summer clothes stand in the garden of Rhodes House under cream sunshades in front of trees and the Rhodes House building.

In the welcome sunshine and splendid grounds of Rhodes House, staff and students from across the department enjoyed catching up with colleagues, with refreshments and a live band.

Held as a surprise for Richardwho is remaining in NDPCHS as Mercian Professor, the party looked back over his time as Head of Department. Surprise guests included Sir Ralph Waller, former Principal of Harris Manchester College, Gavin Screaton, Head of Medical Science Division, and friends and family who have been instrumental in Richard's time at Oxford.   

Professor Irene Tracey, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, joined the party. Celebrating Richard’s time as Head of Department she said, Everyone gathered here is a sign of the respect, esteem and love we all share for you. You have not only been a spectacular colleague and friend to many of us, but you have been an exemplary Head of Department. Not least as the only department to have achieved Athena Swan Gold Status. Thank you for being a wonderful champion for all people and supporting them to achieve whatever they want to achieve. 

Richard joined the department in 2011. Under his leadership it has grown from 99 staff to 444, and the number of DPhil students has risen from 15 to 68. The taught masters’ programmes have expanded to now include Masters in Translational Health, Masters in Applied Digital Health and Masters in Global Health Care Leadership, while our MSc programmes in Evidence Based Health Care and DPhils have grown from strength to strength. Richard has championed Academic Primary Care as a discipline and advocated for the importance of translational science across the University and beyond 

Reflecting on Richard’s achievements, Nicola Small, Head of Finance and Administration for the department, said: ‘The growth of the department and the impressive gender balance achieved in a relatively short space of time speaks volumes of the culture created across the department by Richard in his time here. What Richard has done is recruit excellent people, he’s advised them and empowered them, and they’re what make the department so successful. That is what Richard can take credit for.’ 

Richard will remain in NDPCHS as Mercian Professor, working on research and plans for the Oxford Institute of Digital Health as well as in his central University roles, and growing PROXEMIS (the department’s joint venture with EMIS). 

As the evening drew to a close, conversation turned to summer plans. Next year will welcome Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh, our new Head of Department, and more exciting plans for the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, all made possible by the achievements spearheaded by Richard’s leadership 


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