The Oxbridge Society of Poland - a very short history

The origins of many successful associations are often lost in the mists of time leaving room for speculation and dispute on the differing merits and contribution of the various founders.

Fortunately, the Oxbridge Society of Poland is in the possession of an exhaustive minute recording its inaugural meeting, which leaves little doubt as to who should take the credit. The document records that 40 prospective members attended a meeting on September 5, 2001 at the Przezdziecki Palace on Foksal St, belonging to the Polish Foreign Ministry on September 5, 2001. It was addressed by Radosław Sikorski, the then Polish deputy foreign minister and the host of the gathering. He was followed by Professor Zbigniew Pełczyński, the initiator of the meeting and Władysław Bartoszewski (jnr), Stefan Kirk, Andrzej Jankowski and Agnieszka Hoffman-Chazanow representing the British Alumni Association in Warsaw.

The meeting had been preceded by a more informal assembly that summer at the Ermitage, a modest house near the Łazienki park, where idea of establishing the society was floated. The Ermitage was the seat of the Renaissance Club headed by Andrzej Jankowski.

The inaugural meeting elected a three man committee headed by Władysław Bartoszewski (Cambridge, Darwin) president, Peter Driscoll (Cambridge) treasurer, (who protected the said minute from the ravages of time) and Stefan Kirk (Oxford, Christ Church) secretary. Twenty six people signed up there and then and paid the annual subscription which was fixed at 100 Polish zlotys.

The draft rules drafted by Zbigniew Pełczyński and approved at the meeting decreed that the official business of the society should be conducted in English and that those eligible for membership should have either a degree from either university or should have spent at least one year studying or researching at Oxford or Cambridge.

Bartoszewski’s presidency lasted till 2005 while Stefan Kirk was secretary till 2003 and Peter Driscoll soldiered on till 2004.

Adam Chazanow (Cambridge, Girton) took over as president in 2005 ably supported by Aleks Domaradzki (Cambridge, Magdalene) who had taken over as membership secretary and treasurer from 2004 onwards.

Autumn 2009 saw a change of regime. With the onset of modern times a website was established by Gregory Timofiejew which provides an account of the Society’s activities. A new committee was elected made up of Stefan Kirk, president, Annie Krasinska (Cambridge, Girton) events secretary, Aleks Domaradzki, membership secretary and Krzysztof Bobinski (Oxford, Magdalen) treasurer.

The committee was re-shuffled in November 2010 with Krzysztof Bobinski, emerging as acting president, Stefan Kirk, as treasurer, Annie Krasinska, events secretary and Aleks Domaradzki, membership secretary

An internet election in May 2012 chose Krzysztof Bobinski as president/treasurer, Annie Krasinska, for events secretary and Aleks Domaradzki, as ever, as membership secretary. In the autumn of 2012 Tom Nolan (Cambridge, Trinity) as well as Gregory Timofiejew (Oxford, Kellogg) were co-opted onto the committee. Upon the death of Aleks Domaradzki in November 2015 Tom Nolan became membership secretary. In 2017 Jan Czerniawski (Oxford, Brasenose) was co-opted onto the committee as treasurer. Gregory Timofiejew resigned from the committee in January 2017 as he was living in Switzerland and became the president of the Oxbridge Society in Geneva.