September 30, 2021 4.39 pm This story is over 32 months old

University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor Mary Stuart’s emotional farewell letter

Retiring after nearly 12 years at the helm

The University of Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor said it was a “sad day” as she wrote an emotional farewell to staff ahead of her retirement after 12 years at the helm.

Mary Stuart, 64, who was born in South Africa, became Vice Chancellor at the university in October 2009. She announced her upcoming retirement back in March this year before Professor Neal Juster was appointed as her successor.

On Mary’s last day in the post, Thursday, September 30, she sent a farewell email to all staff to thank them for their support during her proud time as Vice Chancellor (see it in full below). The new Vice Chancellor – Professor Juster – will start in the role officially from Friday, October 1.

Prof Neal Juster and Prof Mary Stuart. | Photo: UoL

Professor Mary Stuart is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln.

Mary Stuart’s farewell email in full

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to you for the last time as Vice Chancellor at the University. A sad day for me.

I wanted to focus this final message on our One Community values and approach and how important that is and has been to me. I want to start by saying what an enormous privilege and pleasure it has been to work with you and to serve our University. Over the last 12 years we have together, and that really matters to me that it IS together, we have built our university as one of the top young universities in the UK and increasingly in the world. We have set out confident research themes and clusters and we have worked really hard to embody our sense of staff and students together creating the University.

I am deeply proud of our University, proud of how we challenge elitism and seek to develop and learn constantly to be better at tackling discrimination and inequality. There will always be a need to challenge ourselves but we have faced up to the fact that there is work to do which is a good start.

I am proud of our students and our alumni who are consistently seeking to make a positive difference to our society and grateful for the hard work put in by many colleagues from across the University to help students become the great citizens they are when they leave us.

I am also very proud of our researchers and the excellent trajectory of our research across the University. It has been so exciting to learn from colleagues and to see their work grow and flourish.

I am proud of the schools and colleges for younger people that we support in our region. They are all making a difference to a county where educational success is determined by the background of your family which it should not be.

I am delighted with the work we have and continue to do in our place. The Civic mission of a university is a vital part of its ethical contribution and Lincoln has done this with passion and sensitivity with the communities we serve. I have no doubt this work will continue into the future.

It is now time for me to hand over to Neal Juster, your new VC, and I wish Neal all the very best in taking the University forward. I know you will all support him to develop his understanding and knowledge over the coming months of our wonderful place and university. I believe I leave the University in good heart. Of course, I am very sad, 12 years is a long time and there are so many wonderful people here, but I know Neal will have all your support to make Lincoln better and more successful in the future.

So to end on the most important thing I can say and that is simply; thank you all for your commitment and dedication. I believe we have grown and progressed as an institution because of your support and I am deeply grateful. I wish you all well, health and happiness into the future, and please, hold our university safely and help it continue to grow and develop over the next few years.

So take care of yourselves and go well,


Over a decade of success as VC

During Mary’s reign, turnover has more than doubled and student intake numbers have also increased significantly. A new building has opened every year for the past decade, including the science park and culminating with the creation of the Lincoln Medical School in 2021.

Over the last decade the university’s turnover has more than doubled to £186 million and student recruitment has doubled. The university also now generates more than £430 million for the UK economy each year. During this time, the university rose from 117th to at one point being as high as 17th in the national league tables.

Professor Mary Stuart CBE receiving the Lincoln Civic Award from the city’s Mayor Councillor Keith Weaver. | Photo: Mick Fox

In 2018, she was awarded a CBE and in 2019 she was named as The Lincolnite Person of the Year, as well as winning the Lincoln Civic Award.

In 2018, she was also named in a list of the top 50 most influential people in the Higher Education sector.

The University of Lincoln has grown in size, subject coverage, research activity and reputation over the past 12 years under Professor Stuart. It was also named as The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year.

Tom Blount, Director of Lincoln Science and Innovation Park, Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln and Ursula Lidbetter, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-op and Lincoln Science and Innovation Park Board Member. | Photo: Steve Smailes

Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart opening the Nicola de la Haye building. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart unveiling the plaque. Photo: The Lincolnite

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln and Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK. | Photo: University of Lincoln/ Phil Crow

Mary Stuart with Juergen Maier at the opening of the engineering hub expansion. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Siemens UK CEO Juergen Maier and University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor Mary Stuart. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln at the opening of the Boole Technology Centre. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Professor Mary Stuart CBE (to the left of the Mayor Councillor Keith Weaver) as pictured with her University colleagues after receiving the Lincoln Civic Award. Lincoln Mayoress Jacqui Lane is standing to the right of the Mayor, followed by Lincoln Civic Award Trustees’ chairman Henry Ruddock. | Photo: Mick Fox

BGU’s Vice Chancellor, the Rev Canon Professor Peter Neil, and University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart with the Cathedral Cup. Also pictured (left to right) are Matt Cunliffe and Will Fry from the University of Lincoln and Callum Ward from BGU.

Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank and Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Vince Cable MP with Vice Chancellor Mary Stuart during a tour of the Lincoln School of Engineering. | Photo: University of Lincoln

University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart speaking at the opening of the event. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln and Professor Andrew Hunter, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln in the new clinical suites at the Lincoln nursing school. | Photo: UoL

Breaking the ground on the new Lincolnshire Medical School are: Ruth Carver, Chief Executive of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP; Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln; Joe Henderson; Judith Jackson from the Judith and Barry Jackson Foundation; Steve Taylor, Chief Executive of the Bromhead Medical Charity; Emyr Morris, Chairman of the Bromhead Medical Charity. | Photo: UoL

The new Lincoln Medical School will be the most environmentally-friendly uni building in Lincoln. | Photo: Shradha Mishra