VC’s week – 18 March 2013 - Clothworkers’ concert, Walks Round Red Brick and a new Dean

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

I attended a wonderful performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt at the Clothworkers' Hall a few days ago, which was a collaboration between the School of Music and the Leeds Baroque Orchestra. The vast majority of the 60-strong choir were students, from all years, many of whom had never sung in a choral concert before. Our students also featured in the orchestra, playing period instrument cello, timpani, trumpet and violin. The performance was part of an assessed project and was recorded for marking. If that wasn’t pressure enough, they were performing to a packed and pretty serious audience which included Dame Fanny Waterman, the Lord Mayor and a previous High Sheriff of West Yorkshire. The students were singing this huge, dramatic and complex piece of music in baroque style, and it was rousing stuff – I was immensely proud of them. The concert, celebrating 100 years of ‘town and gown’ music events, really reinforced the exceptional quality and breadth of the work that we do here and the impact that it has on both the University and the wider community. My congratulations go, too, to Peter Holman, Emeritus Professor, Conductor and Director of the project, and to Dr Clive McClelland, Associate Professor, and Chorus Master.

Our campus is also an exceptional place and last week saw the launch of a new version of a famous book about the University’s buildings and architecture, Walks Round Red Brick*. Originally written by the late Professor Maurice Beresford and published in 1980, the text has been revised by Dr Chris Hammond (Life Fellow in Material Sciences), has a foreword written by our Chancellor, Lord Melvyn Bragg, and includes photographs by Ruth Baumberg (wife of the late Professor Simon Baumberg). The launch event was a lively affair, attended by past and present friends of the University. Guests included Simeon Underwood , currently Academic Registrar at the London School of Economics, who edited the Reporter in the late ‘70s. Simeon was credited by Maurice Beresford himself with the original idea for the Walks, so it was particularly apt that he should be there to witness the unveiling of the new version. The book makes for fascinating reading and has certainly made me look at parts of campus with new eyes!

Last week saw the announcement of the appointment of Professor Paul Stewart FMedSci as the next Dean of the School of Medicine. I’ve known Paul for many years – I’ve even competed with him for funding in the past; he won and I lost! An endocrinologist, he is a European Research Council Advanced Investigator, an NIHR Senior Investigator, a trustee of the British Heart Foundation, and chairman of the Medical Research Council Training and Careers Board. As a member of Panel 1 (Clinical Medicine), he will also be heavily involved in the Research Excellence Framework.

Paul will join us at a particularly exciting time; the current Dean, Professor David Cottrell, has done an excellent job reintegrating the School and skilfully leading three of its divisions through difficult, but critically important, organisational reviews. Medical education is in great shape and now we’re ready to move to a new place. This is a big leadership opportunity and Paul sees his appointment as chance to make a significant difference to the University’s profile through our medical school. It’s a hugely important appointment for us and I am delighted that an academic of Paul’s calibre will be joining us at Leeds. 


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