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President's weekly update

30 June 2022

Distinguished Achievement Awards

We held another in-person event for the first time in three years; this time our Distinguished Achievement Awards. These recognise the outstanding achievements of our teachers, students, academic and postgraduate researchers and Professional Services staff and teams. At the event, held in our Whitworth Hall, I gave out medals and trophies to those selected from the many nominations, and prize winners were joined by families and friends for the awards and lunch afterwards.

Philanthropy update

Our Global Leadership Board, which helps us with fundraising, met in Manchester this week. We welcomed a new member, one of our alumni, Ziad Makhzoumi, who is based in the UAE. In addition to my update and discussions about philanthropy, Professor Graham Lord, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and Dame Nicky Cullum, Professor of Nursing, talked about our research on health inequalities and plans to develop this further, building on strengths across all three faculties and external partnerships. Later, Professor April McMahon, Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students, joined us to discuss plans to enhance students’ experience and teaching and learning.

Civic engagement

At one of our regular meetings with leaders and staff from Manchester City Council and GMCA, we updated on recent developments and plans including ID Manchester, REF, Civic University Agreement, our work with Further Education Colleges and Health Equity. We also discussed the plans for GM’s Innovation Accelerator.

Innovation progress

Innovation Greater Manchester (IGM) is developing plans for a bid for funding to government, as we are one of three selected Innovation Accelerator regions. We are finalising the first stage of the bid for submission later this week.

Continuing to build links with government and the civil service, I spoke via video to a group of staff in research and development at BEIS (the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) about my career, my role as President and Vice-Chancellor, involvement in policy and our developments in innovation such as IGM, ID Manchester and Northern Gritstone. They asked me about how I prioritise the many demands on my times, commercialisation of research and Northern Gritstone, the role of universities in their regions and how leaders must keep listening and learning.

As a member of the UK Investment Council, chaired by Lord Gerry Grimstone, I took part in an online meeting where we heard about the priorities for inward investment and innovation including ‘levelling up’, net zero and science and technology.


In the last meeting with current Students’ Union officers, we were joined by the incoming elected officers who spoke about their goals. We also discussed how we can enhance student engagement in activities and events and how we better understand and respond to ever changing student expectations. We agreed that student reps and staff-student liaison committees play an important role, but vary across the University.


I spoke to our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion staff and student network about the importance of this area, our plans for the future, and where we need to improve. This was followed by questions on wider staff training on unconscious bias, support for care-experienced students, support for disabled staff and students and BAME students, and ‘safe spaces’ to discuss sensitive issues and concerns. 

Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor