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Maxwell Benster Recognised at Encaenia

Held annually in the Sheldonian Theatre since 1670, the Oxford Encaenia is a ceremony at which the University awards honorary degrees to distinguished men and women and commemorates its benefactors.

At this year’s ceremony eight student prize-winners were also recognised for demonstrating academic excellence. Second-year Oriel undergraduate Maxwell Benster (2021, Theology and Religion) was one of the two students nominated by the Humanities Division.

Maxwell had previously been awarded two academic prizes by the Faculty of Theology for receiving the highest results of his cohort in his preliminary examinations. His recognition at the Encaenia was in light of this achievement.

He said: “It was a real privilege to be one of the eight students nominated for prizes. The whole ceremony was quite the spectacle, so I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to witness it.”

Among the eight honorands receiving honorary degrees was British historian Sir Simon Schama. Maxwell cites reading Schama’s “The Story of the Jews” as an important moment in his decision to apply to study Theology and Religion at Oriel. It was therefore to his delight that he had the opportunity to meet Schama at the garden party that followed the ceremony.