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President's Weekly Update

25 May

The University was shocked and horrified by the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday. At the present time we understand that all of our staff and students are safe, but this remains to be confirmed. Of course, many colleagues and students will have been affected by the dreadful events and I’d like to remind you that support is available from our Counselling Service.  Details on how to access this support is available at:

At a meeting I attended in London shortly afterwards, many commented on the sadness that was obvious in Manchester but also the remarkable unity of people across our City, the many great acts of kindness and the poem read by Tony Walsh at the vigil in Albert Square which touched many. You can watch this at:

I’d also encourage you to read a reflective and poignant piece by Ilyas Nagdee, Diversity Officer at our Students’ Union:

I spent two days in New York for meetings of our North American Foundation of The University of Manchester (NAFUM) and Global Leadership Board (GLB). Both organisations include senior alumni who give up their time to support the University, particularly in fundraising, and in the case of NAFUM, in building links with North America.

At the GLB meeting, Will Spinks, Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer and senior staff from the Division of Development and Alumni Relations (led by Director of the Division Kate White) updated the Board on recent developments, activities, challenges and opportunities and we heard about their fundraising activities. Professor Andy Hamilton, President of New York University (NYU) and previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, came to talk to us about the similarities and contrasts between US and UK universities, most notably in public funding and, in the US, the great importance of fundraising. At a dinner, Marty Edelman, who is based in New York and leads Abu Dhabi’s investments in Manchester as well as holding an honorary chair with us, spoke about how Manchester and our University are viewed from overseas and the opportunities to further enhance our reputation.

I hosted an alumni event at the British Consulate where I gave an update on the University’s activities and Gian Fulgoni, Chair of NAFUM, encouraged alumni to participate in University events. We spoke to many alumni (recent and not so recent) who were keen to engage more extensively with us.

I also visited several major estates projects at NYU. One was a very large refurbishment, the other a new building for performance, student residences and staff accommodation. NYU faces many of the same issues that we do, though their costs (in the centre of New York) appeared to be higher than ours and they have to seek approval from many more bodies than we do.

It was a great pleasure to attend and speak at a dinner at Manchester Town Hall to honour Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth and the City Art Gallery. Maria will leave us soon to take up the job as Director of the Tate. I spoke about her contributions to the Whitworth and more widely to the University and Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, talked about her wider contributions to Manchester. Many from the world of arts in Manchester attended the event in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour to wish Maria well in the future.

I spent some time in London in interviews for the next Government Chief Scientific Advisor and also attended a private breakfast meeting at the Royal Society to discuss Brexit and the aims of sectors such as higher education in the forthcoming negotiations. The discussion was led by Lord Peter Mandelson (who holds an honorary chair with us) and Joschka Fischer who leads a German think tank. The event was also attended by the German ambassador and two other Vice-Chancellors.

It was an honour to present the annual lecture of the Stroke Association, a charity that supports those who have had a stroke and their carers and research into stroke. My talk was attended by about 300, including a number of my collaborators from Manchester, stroke researchers, stroke survivors and many supporters and donors. I talked about our research on the role of inflammation in brain damage caused by stroke, laboratory studies and recent clinical trials and also highlighted the importance of engaging with patients and the public.

We held a further meeting to discuss the potential uses and value of our North campus. We will vacate most of the buildings in 2021 and most of our engineering research and teaching will relocate to the new Manchester Engineering Campus Development on the main campus. This represents a huge opportunity in terms of co-location, financial savings and reducing our carbon footprint for the long term future of the University and is one of the key drivers for building a single site for engineering on the main campus.

At another meeting we discussed our strengths and opportunities in health data and analysis and the importance of integrating health data across Greater Manchester as part of devolution of the health budget. We are now trying to bring together the many activities in health data and respond to a growing number of external calls for funding.

I met one of our alumni from Norway, Tor Veen, who studied economics almost 50 years ago together with four other Norwegians. He had been on a tour of the campus and the City which he said were unrecognisable.

Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor 

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