The excellent results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, announced just a week before Christmas, provided a wonderful opportunity to celebrate within the University at the time. I trust that the pleasure at the outcomes continues to be felt as the New Year begins. For my part, I was delighted to see the substantial increase in the proportion of our submission that received 3* or 4* ratings. I was also pleased to learn that 90% of our submitted research was rated as 'internationally recognised' or better, and to see how highly Middlesex is now rated in terms of 'research power' among the universities in London.
I hope that you enjoyed the autumn term and that it offered you some interesting new opportunities and fresh challenges. For me, as your Chancellor, the autumn term certainly provided some new insights into the rich variety of activities that contribute to the vitality of Middlesex and the distinctive support that it provides for students and staff and others who come into its orbit. Here is my account of some highlights from the last three months.
The first activity that I undertook in early October - was a first birthday party. This was arranged by the Park Clinic, the University's Centre for Complementary Medicine and Therapies, to mark the first anniversary of the opening of its new premises in Beaufort Park. Guests were given short introductions to the work of the three branches offered by the Clinic – Western herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (including acupuncture) and Ayuvedic Medicine - talks to which both students and staff contributed. The clinic provides supervised hands-on experience for students, whilst also offering treatments for members of the University and the wider community. Definitely worth trying if you are interested.
Later that month, several Governors and I spent a day with the staff of the School of Law which was a richly rewarding experience. The series of presentations prepared by the Dean and his colleagues provided an illuminating snapshot of the range of activities undertaken by the School and helped to explain why the School's reputation is increasing so significantly. The work undertaken by the individual centres (for European Human Rights Advocacy, for Social Policy and for Abuse and Trauma Studies), allied to the programme developments across the School and the increase in postgraduate and doctoral numbers, was truly inspiring.
My next encounter could hardly have provided a greater contrast: it shifted the focus from doctoral Law study to a pre-school play. I was privileged to spend part of a morning in the University Nursery, observing with delight the imaginative range of opportunities provided for the 'tinies' in its care. I could see why the Mud Kitchen was a particular attraction but I also watched with fascination some budding engineers being encouraged to explore their ideas in 3D. It made me feel very proud to realise that our University not only maintains its Nursery that assists a number of staff and students in fulfilling their personal aspirations – but provides a facility that leads the way in terms of recording and reporting to parents on individual progress.
My visit to the University's medicinal herb garden, organised by Peter Jarrett, was one of the real surprises and delights of the past term, Having begun life at Enfield and then moved to Archway, the herb garden now nestles just out of sight behind a protective wall on the Hendon campus and offers not only an invaluable learning resource for students and staff studying complementary medicine, but also a peaceful oasis for quiet reflection.
My last visit for the term, on 12 November, provided a full and varied day. I had a session with the University's Records Manager, Daniel Heather, and was shown some of the remarkable holdings in the University's archives – including some relating to Trent Park, which I found of particular interest. Later that day I met Mark Norman, the University's Environmental Manager, and learnt with interest about the various schemes being undertaken – some of which are student driven - to ensure that the University's impact on the wider environment is as positive as possible. It was encouraging to hear from Mark that we have silver status as an Eco-Campus.
For me the final event of the year was the annual Scholarships and Awards evening. This was a really joyous occasion. The Ricketts Quadrangle was full of students, friends, family, donors and sponsors and we celebrated in style the varied achievements – both academic and sporting - of individual students from across all the Schools of the University. It was a very happy occasion, and one that put the focus where it must always be – on the aspirations and achievements of our students.
To all staff and students across the University as a whole, I wish you a happy and successful 2015, and look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming months.
Chancellor Dame Janet Ritterman