The year began on a high for the University of Lincoln; every year we recognise, through the award of a small number of honorary degrees, the outstanding contributions made to our society by individuals who have excelled in their chosen fields.
And as such, we were delighted to welcome BAFTA and Golden Globe award-winning actor John Hurt CBE back to Lincoln for our graduation ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral in January.
The University itself is no stranger to awards. In February, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) awarded a commendation to the university for its enhancement of student learning opportunities.
We were delighted with this recognition as the university is constantly developing and enhancing ways in which students can have their say about how they learn.
More recently, the university was highlighted as an example of excellence in an independent report commissioned by the government, and led by Sir Andrew Witty, into how universities drive innovation and business creation.
The report highlighted the significance of the creation in 2009 of the Lincoln School of Engineering, in collaboration with Siemens plc, and the contribution made to small business growth by Sparkhouse, the university’s business incubation centre.
Having gained the education contract for nursing across all of Lincolnshire in 2012, the way we are training the next generation of nurses was praised in a report by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Awarded a rating of ‘good’ in all five areas, this recognises that we have built strong partnerships with placement providers and have solid systems in place to ensure that our student nurses, and their mentors, are well-supported throughout their placements.
This year also saw the first ever Vice Chancellor’s Award and University of Lincoln Scholarships, which awarded almost £30,000 in scholarships to support the academic aspirations of talented new students.
These awards show just how much we are committed to supporting academic progression and helping students advance their learning and reach their full potential.
The university celebrated the 150th anniversary of its oldest predecessor institution with two free public exhibitions at the Greestone Centre in February and The Usher Gallery throughout the summer.
The exhibitions brought together historic works from the Lincoln School of Art into a comprehensive showcase for the first time. This anniversary coincided with the School of Art and Design’s move later on in the year to the new purpose-built building on the Brayford campus.
This year we also won Gold at RHS Chelsea Flower Show for our unique garden ‘Digital Capabilities’. The garden was designed to respond to live Twitter activity and garnered a great deal of press attention highlighting our research into the changing world of computing, working with our Schools of Computing, Psychology and Architecture. The coverage also highlighted the city and the county across the globe which we are delighted to have enabled.
More recently, the university was successful in its bid, along with the Lincolnshire Echo and Lincolnshire Co-operative, for £1 million of funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
Over the coming year the money will be distributed to businesses in the city to create new jobs and grow the local economy.
As always there are a number of exciting developments planned for the future.
The University of Lincoln will be providing more research and development opportunities by creating its new Schools of Mathematics and Chemistry.
The new schools will create provision in these critical subject areas in the region and will reshape our whole Brayford Campus as we evolve into the university of the future.
The fact a £6.8 million investment came from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) is a sign of the confidence funders have in the University of Lincoln and its capability to respond directly to the needs of local, regional and national employers.
Initial work on the Lincoln Science and Innovation Park is continuing apace with the newly renovated Joseph Banks House on target to open its doors in September 2014.
And at the beginning of the month we found out that we had been successful in a collaborative bid with Kingston University (my old University) in a £14.8 million project to support UK science and engineering students progress onto postgraduate qualifications.
This project is also part of our strategy to ensure we are supporting our students at postgraduate level so they are able to contribute to new knowledge, science and therefore grow our reputation across the world for innovation.
Winning projects like the ones I have described enable us to do more for the city, the county and the region as well as grow and develop as a strong university with excellent students and excellent research.
I am extremely excited about the coming year and look forward to the continued expansion of the university, not only in terms of infrastructure but also in its commitment to pursuing world-leading research. We will continue to put Lincoln on the map with our work. Watch this space!
A very happy festive season to all Lincolnite readers!
Professor Mary Stuart is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Open University, where she obtained her Doctorate in Social Policy in 1998. Her research interests are focused on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development.