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President's Weekly Update

20 July 2017

We have held degree ceremonies throughout all of last week and this week - the mixed weather didn’t dampen the occasions. These are a time of great celebration of the achievements of our students and the great contributions of our staff to their success. At those ceremonies I presided over I welcomed the diversity of our students and asked them to thank their families and friends for their support.

I met one of our computer science graduates from a few years ago - Bonamy Grimes - who had just received an ‘outstanding alumnus award’ from us. Bonamy has been extremely successful in starting companies (most notably Skyscanner) and has also been a great help to our Schools of Mathematics and Computer Science.  You can find out more at:

We held a lengthy meeting between senior staff of the University, the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Manchester Institute, The Christie and CRUK including Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of CRUK, to discuss options available after the major fire in the Paterson Building. This included a wider discussion on infrastructure needs to develop our plans for cancer for the next ten years and well beyond.

Following the meeting I met Roger Spencer, Chief Executive of The Christie, to discuss the success of our current partnership and how we build on this, particularly when leading cancer researcher Professor Rob Bristow arrives from Toronto.

At the Corridor Manchester Board, which I chair, we discussed the Corridor partnership name, brand and our next priorities. We agreed that it’s most important that we demonstrate the value of collaborations, for example between us and Manchester Metropolitan University, the Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust, Manchester Science Partnership, the Royal Northern College of Music and others.

I met David Sweeney, who is currently Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at HEFCE and has been appointed as the Executive Chair Designate of Research England within the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) organisation. Inevitably we discussed the criteria for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) which will be announced soon, plans for Research England and UKRI. David spent the next day at a conference organised by the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research.

It was a pleasure to meet Lord David Alliance just prior to the ‘topping out’ ceremony for the major refurbishment of the Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS). David is a major donor to, and friend of, the University and particularly to AMBS.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Acting Director of the Russell Group of universities, visited us. I took him on a short tour of the campus then he met with senior colleagues and me to hear more about our University and future challenges - quite a long list.

At the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) meeting we heard an update on impacts of Brexit on local businesses; plans for the Manchester channel (a digital platform to promote activities in Greater Manchester); the establishment of a new ‘foresight’ group to look into future opportunities; an update on the government’s proposed Institutes of Technology and a report on the annual Manchester Science Festival. Some were surprised to hear that the Science Festival attracted 136,000 attendees - very much more than the 40,000 that regularly attend the Cheltenham Festival.

I visited the team at north campus working on the Student Lifecycle Project (SLP), which aims to join up processes across every part of students’ interaction with the University. For an overview of how we will deliver the project watch the video on the SLP website:

The team is led by Malcolm Whitehouse, Director of IT Services, and Dr Tim Westlake, Director for the Student Experience, who sadly will leave us very soon to become Chief Operating Officer at the University of Sussex (Dr Simon Merrywest will take on Tim’s role). The work of the Student Lifecycle Project team is impressive and exciting and will soon be rolled out further.

We said farewell to Professor Colin Bailey, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, who is leaving us to become President and Principal of Queen Mary, London. In addition to his current role, Colin has been Vice-President and Dean of what was then the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and before that Head of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. He has also led on many major successes in the University.

There will be no message next week as I will be away.

Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor


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