Ex-Wigan rector's name could be axed from Oxford college in favour of Vietnamese billionairess famous for her scantily-clad stewardesses

An Oxford college named after a 16th century rector of Wigan could ben renamed after a Vietnamese airline billionairess criticised for dressing her stewardesses in sexy underwear.
VietJet stewardessesVietJet stewardesses
VietJet stewardesses

Thomas Linacre is still a familiar name in town because of the former school on Parson’s Walk which is now WWL’s outpatient department.

And the famous humanist (1460-1524) also gives his name to a Canterbury boarding school and Linacre College at Oxford which was founded in 1962.

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But after Vietnam's richest woman, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, offered a £155m donation to the college, it has said it will ask the privy council if it can drop Linacre’s moniker and call itself Thao College instead.

Scholar Thomas LinacreScholar Thomas Linacre
Scholar Thomas Linacre

Bosses have pointed out that it is one of the least well-endowed colleges in the city and that the extra funding would be spent on new facilities for students.

However there has been disquiet at one of the greenest Oxford colleges being funded by the profits from air travel and also about Thao’s using scantily clad air hostesses to boost trade!

Budget airline VietJet Air has been fined several times for perking up flights with semi-naked staff.

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Meanwhile a Wigan resident and one-time pupil of the school is trying to whip up support for blocking the name change.

Nguyễn Thị Phương ThảoNguyễn Thị Phương Thảo
Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo

Ex-journalist Malcolm Ryding has written to local MPs Lisa Nandy and Chris Green calling for their support.

He wrote: "I have been disappointed this morning to read about the re-naming of the Thomas Linacre College at Oxford.

"I realise that colleges are expensive institutions to run but I am alarmed as to the depths financial depths they have to stoop.

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"My disappointment is fuelled by the fact that Thomas Linacre has strong and deep connections with Wigan: he was Rector of Wigan for four years from 1520, one of the first technical grammar schools in the country - Wigan's Thomas Linacre School - was named after him, and his name lives on in the NHS Thomas Linacre Centre on Parsons Walk.

"I am an 'old boy' of the Thomas Linacre School and am a fervent supporter of some of the words from our school song (one of the finest ever written!):

Linacre, whose name we proudly bear,

Whose coat of arms we wear,

Beckons us to follow in his steps.

In science's service we shall strive,

His heritage to keep alive.

May we advance in strength and skill

To harness hands' and minds' united powers

And make his purpose ours."

And another ex-pupil, US-based photographer David Simm, said: "I have no animosity to Far Eastern billionaires, moreover I am all for multi cultural societies.

"Nonetheless, great British traditions are still, and should remain, great British traditions and that includes the naming of our institutions of higher learning being dedicated to our very, very own great luminaries.

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"Linacre's tenure as Rector of the Parish church, really doesn't faze me: it was his academic achievements and national stature that earned him the acknowledgement of the English educational establishment and common folk alike.

"So on behalf of us common folk, I'd like you to know that my voice should be counted among the nay-sayers to the change of name for Oxford University's Linacre Hall."

Thao, 51, is herself an Oxford graduate.

Linacre was a hugely respected humanist and scientist in his time, among whose pupils were Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, Prince Arthur and Queen Mary I.

He became the Rector of Wigan in 1520, a post which he held until his death four years later.

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