VC’s week – 29 April 2013 - Alumni events, a visit to LIHS, Athena SWAN and Celebrate Week

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

It’s amazing to think the Leeds alumni have been meeting up for more than a century, and I was delighted to attend the centenary celebration of the Leeds University Old Students’ Association (LUOSA) London Branch. The event was attended by around 60 alumni from the 1950s up to the present day, who gathered in the Glaziers’ Hall for dinner and the cutting of a very large birthday cake!

The dinner was part of a very busy couple of days in London which included a meeting of the Russell Group Board.  I also attended another alumni-related event; an evening hosted by Sir Stuart Rose, previously CEO of Marks & Spencer and a firm friend of the University. The main aim of the event was to raise awareness of the excellence of our climate change and sustainability research, and encourage guests to support the associated projects that are part of our Campaign.  Speakers included Dean of the Faculty of Environment – Professor Jane Francis, Director of water@leeds – Professor Joe Holden, and Professor Andy Shepherd, Director of Research in our School of Earth and Environment. Listening to our academics talking about their research reinforced how proud we should all be of the exceptional climate science work carried out at Leeds – research which really does have the potential to change the world for the better.

Earlier in the week I visited the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences (LIHS) which forms the main focus of applied health research in the Faculty of Medicine and Health. I talked to academic, professional, managerial and support staff about their on-going work and recent innovative developments.  LIHS has an active suite of taught postgraduate programmes and I particularly enjoyed meeting the postgraduate research students, many of whom were also practising healthcare professionals, as well as members of the Institute’s early careers research and academic research networks. They have done a spectacular job of creating a positive and supportive working environment for each other, and the camaraderie and collegiality were impressive.

Confirmation arrived this week that our submission for renewal of our Athena SWAN Bronze Award has been successful – great news that reflects our progress towards ensuring support for the careers of women in our science, engineering and technology (SET) faculties. Since the original submission in 2009, the Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences has achieved a Silver Award, the School of Healthcare a Bronze Award, and other SET areas have begun to work towards awards. Athena SWAN is an important part of our work to raise the profile of equality and inclusion in the University and Jane Cahill, the recently appointed Athena SWAN Manager, will be working closely with all faculties to disseminate good practice.

Celebrate Week – one of the biggest events in Leeds University Union’s calendar – takes place this week, and I’m sure it will be a joyous occasion. I will be attending both the Partnership and LeedsForLife award ceremonies, the sports ‘Colours’ and, to finish the week, the ‘Rileys’ a fantastic event when LUU’s societies put on a spectacular show. Celebrate Week is a great demonstration of the verve, enthusiasm, commitment and talent of our students – a truly memorable occasion, particularly for an outgoing VC!


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