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President's weekly update

13 April 2017

We had a wonderful Philanthropy Day, organised by Kate White, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, and her team to thank our many donors and to honour the most generous. The day included an exhibition of many of our activities and campus tours for visitors. In the afternoon, one of our music PhD students described a piece of music he has composed, which was then performed by two of our student clarinettists; and a Manchester Access student explained how important her scholarship is to her. Professor Michael Wood, Honorary Professor of Public History and TV historian, and Dr James Hopkins, University Historian and Heritage Manager, discussed the history of the University and the role that philanthropy has played in its success.

Later we held a ceremony in the Whitworth Hall to welcome our most generous donors into the President’s Beyer Circle and Langworthy Circle and welcome back past members of the Circles, followed by dinner. Donors travelled from as far as Hong Kong and California to be with us.

We held a number of meetings of the Board of Governors - Finance, Audit and Staffing Committees, and I had two meetings with our Chairman, Edward Astle, to discuss the external review of the Board effectiveness and to update him on current issues. We also had an informal briefing of Board members on the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the Stern review of REF and likely changes, by Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice-President for Research and Innovation, and on devolution of the health budget to Greater Manchester by Professor Ian Greer, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, including why devolution is so important to the University and how we are involved.

Sir Howard Bernstein, who holds an honorary professorship with us, Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, and I spoke at the annual meeting of the Association of University Directors of Estates held at Manchester Metropolitan University on the relationship between universities and regional government, examples of our partnership and the role of universities in regional growth and prosperity. Just prior to our session we met the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, who attended the conference. He wanted to know how Manchester had been so successful in many ways that other city regions had not been and again we stressed the spirit of collaboration and the vision of leaders.

Dr Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Research and Innovation, Chief Executive of Cancer Research Technology at Cancer Research UK, visited to discuss the recent successes we have enjoyed in cancer (now amounting to over £30 million funding per annum), recruitment of new staff and future plans and vision for cancer across Manchester.

At Planning and Resources Committee, in addition to standard reports, we agreed on the formation of University of Manchester Worldwide which will deliver distance learning, approved our submission to the Office of Fair Access, received reports on reviews of compliance and learnt about the allocation to our University of 25 extra places for UK/EU medical students.

I chaired our annual Awards and Honours Group that considers nominations for national honours and our own Medal of Honour and Honorary degrees. We always welcome suggestions of suitable individuals for consideration. If you have ideas for nominees please contact Deborah.black@manchester.ac.uk in my office.

You have just a few days left to complete the Staff Survey 2017 – you will receive the final reminder on Tuesday, 18 April with a link to the survey which should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and we can assure you that the responses you give are completely anonymous and confidential and will be used to make changes.

There will be no message next week as many people will be away for Easter. I hope that you all enjoy a good break and that the weather is favourable. I will be in Sweden where snow is forecast!