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Vice-Chancellor's Update - December 2019

As we approach the end of 2019, it has been a busy few weeks for our University, with much to celebrate.

Dr Eugene Murtagh, one of our six Honorary Graduates

Last month we received the news the University is being awarded its seventh Queen’s Anniversary Prize, on this occasion for our work in Shared Education.  This is a tremendous achievement and I would like to thank all those who have been involved in the success of Shared Education.  We look forward to attending Buckingham Palace in February to receive the award.

We have also just finished Winter Graduation, which is always a time of celebration. Among our graduates this year were six Honorary Graduates who were honoured for their significant contributions across the world of business, science, sport, public service and academia. You can read more about our Honorary Graduates on the Graduation webpages.  As part of Graduation, we also had the opportunity to pay tribute to and thank Professor James McElnay who is due to retire at the end of the year. James has made an extraordinary impact on the life and work of this university for the past 40 years. Through his long career, he has performed many roles and always with great distinction – through the tenure of five Vice-Chancellors with me as a sixth. He has been a great ambassador for this University and was a great support to me when I became Vice-Chancellor. We wish him well in his retirement.

In recent weeks we also had the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the contribution our staff make to both Queen’s and society. This year over 50 members of staff marked 25 years’ service and their contribution was celebrated at a special awards ceremony in Riddel Hall. The level of commitment, loyalty and contribution to Queen’s shown by these members of staff is quite remarkable and it was a pleasure to be able to thank them for their service. The Vice-Chancellor’s Research Prize Ceremony celebrated academic excellence and recognised the quality and diversity of research taking place at Queen’s. Most importantly, the prizes celebrated the contribution made by staff who are involved in spearheading our world leading research, and its profound impact and lasting benefits which span the globe.  Many congratulations to all the winners who you can find out more about here.

We recently celebrated one of our international partnerships with an event to mark 10 years of growth at INTO Queen’s. This significant partnership has generated great success over the past decade. The Centre has grown from less than 20 staff and 19 international students in 2009 to 85 staff and close to 280 students today.  INTO Queen’s has contributed significantly to the life of our University while its students have made a significant contribution to Belfast and Northern Ireland. We look forward to working with INTO over the next decade as we continue to grow our international student population.

There is much to celebrate in 2019 and lots to look forward to next year. In 2020, we will be marking the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the three Queen’s Colleges in Ireland. In January, we will name the Professor Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, followed by a special event in April to name our Graduate School, the Thomas J Moran Graduate School.

During the year, we will be continuing to develop our new Strategic Plan in partnership with staff and students. I held a number of all staff sessions in November and December to discuss the Plan and was delighted with the level of engagement and input from staff. There are already a number of key themes emerging from your feedback, including social responsibility and sustainability. I look forward to exploring these themes further with you in the New Year during a series of School and Directorate visits.

In the meantime, I would like to thank you all for your hard work during the year and wish you all a relaxing Christmas break.