Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Topic: Alumni event

Looking further in China

📥  Alumni event, Messages

With the Chinese New Year starting on 16th February, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish our students, staff and partners good fortune for the year ahead.

Our international profile and partnerships have become increasingly significant over the last few years and we are particularly proud of the strength of our relationships in China.

As with all relationships, considerable time and effort is required to make them work.  I am delighted that Professor Jeremy Bradshaw has now joined us as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International & Doctoral) and Professor Catherine Montgomery from our Department of Education has started her role as Academic Director of International Partnerships.  Professors Bradshaw and Montgomery have strong track records in international engagement and both have considerable experience of working with colleagues in China.

The need for meaningful international collaboration is more pressing than ever. From climate change and energy, security to pandemics, displaced populations of people and water shortages, the global challenges we face do not stop at the borders of nation states. I believe that universities, working with other sectors, play a crucial role in bringing together the expertise and understanding required to find solutions to some of these real-world problems.

These themes were top of our agenda when Professor Bradshaw and I attended the Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA UK) Chinese New Year Gala last week at the 02 in London.  The Gala was hosted by Mr Wang Yongli, Minister Counsellor of the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy, and the guests of honour were HE Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and his wife, Hu Pingua, who visited Bath in May 2016.  As well as enjoying a colourful evening of entertainment and celebration, the event provided an opportunity to network with those universities who have active links with China as well as a number of key influencers in international education.

The Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings published this week show that China’s presence on the international stage is increasing.  The country’s focus is now on attracting international students to study in China, with a plethora of joint ventures being established with foreign universities.

I saw some of these initiatives for myself when I visited China last November to give a keynote speech at the grand opening of Zhejiang University International Campus. Zhejiang is one of our key strategic partners and a number of our departments are working collaboratively with colleagues there.  In establishing its International Campus, Zhejiang has provided an interesting new take on transnational education with several overseas partner universities locating specific faculties within an existing, successful host university. The International Campus will educate Chinese home students alongside students from many other nations, evolving a culture and curricula that meet the needs and aspirations of that mix of students. This model also allows research collaboration across the participating universities to grow and flourish. I think it will be a fascinating catalyst, enabling us to think about - and do - research and teaching in different ways.

Also during my November visit, I met with Dr Liu Jinghui, Secretary-General of the China Scholarship Council (CSC), and signed an important agreement for a joint scholarship programme to attract top PhD candidates from China, paving the way for new links with prestigious Chinese universities and research institutions in areas of shared research excellence.

These are exciting developments which will complement our existing links with China and will enable us to enhance the experience we offer to our international students.

We now have an impressive number of alumni based in China.  Only recently, I met 200 alumni and guests in Beijing.  I have now seen these events grow and change as our alumni network has gone from strength to strength. It is a real privilege to watch our talented graduates develop in their own careers, achieve their ambitions and remain so passionate about maintaining their connection with our University community.  It is thanks to dedicated individuals, such as Snow Wu, who has been Chair of the Beijing Alumni Chapter since 2009, that such networks thrive in countries all over the world.

Thank you to everyone who has played their part so far in building our connections in China.

I wish you a prosperous new year.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, President and Vice-Chancellor


Celebrating our 50th in the US

📥  Alumni event, Internationalisation, Representing the University

I visited San Francisco earlier this month.

Our Chancellor, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, was there to host a reception for our alumni and supporters on the West Coast - the largest gathering we ever held in the US and a fitting start to the international celebrations of our 50th anniversary.

Held at the top of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco with wonderful views of the Bay, including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, the event was energetic and all the attendees really engaged – ranging from alumni of 40 years ago to ones from 2015.  It is amazing what careers Bath graduates create for themselves – influential in so many walks of life.



While there, I also visited the University of California San Francisco QB3 business incubator to see how they do things.

Even more exciting, I visited the Tesla car factory in Fremont, hosted by our Honorary Graduate Gilbert Passin, and learnt about their amazing recent development.  We talked about placement students going there and I cannot imagine a more exciting opportunity.  I also drove one of the cars – just delicious, so environmentally-friendly, so fast and so stable!  What more can you ask for?

I spoke to several of our great supporters on the visit, including Anthony Lye and Fernando Flores-New, and I also met some new people who have the ability to be tremendously helpful in the future.  Just as an example, I think I should mention that one of our graduates, Randy Newcomb arranged for Humanity United with the British Consulate to give a lunch for several charities who would be interested in our work in Jordan and in South Africa.  I look forward to working with them to further both our research and provision of education in these countries.



It was a short visit but a rich and productive one.  I thank everyone – in the University and outside of it – for making it so valuable.  I particularly thank our Chancellor who made a special effort to be there.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

President & Vice-Chancellor 





Launching our programme of events to mark our 50th anniversary


📥  Alumni event, Celebrating successes, Messages

Dear colleague,

Whilst our University formally received its Royal Charter on October 25th 1966, our celebrations of our 50th anniversary will continue throughout the new academic year and start in earnest this week.

The 50th anniversary planning group has put together an impressive programme of almost 100 conferences, events and other activities across the full spectrum of University life.

The very first week will see a talk on ‘Phosphatases and Signalling in Health and Disease’, the 25th Annual Conference of the Society for Risk Analysis and a special screening, at The Edge, of ‘Goal!’, a film about the 1966 world cup. We’ll be welcoming exceptional Bath-based athletes and coaches to our sports Hall of Fame and holding our summer graduation ceremonies in Bath Abbey from June 28th to 30th.

Bath Abbey will also be the venue for a special celebration on October 25th which staff, students and alumni will all have an opportunity to attend. More details of this and other forthcoming events will be communicated separately and published on the 50th anniversary webpages. The programme will include a birthday party on campus and also a festival day for the whole community on May 6th 2017.

The anniversary is both a wonderful opportunity to showcase all we have established together as a University community and a reason to ‘Look Further’ - our chosen theme for our 50th year.

In what will be – whatever the result of Thursday’s referendum - a momentous week for this country, it is perhaps timely to think that having started as a single building in a field overlooking Bath, we are marking the start of our celebrations as the highest ranked University of our age in Europe, with a global network of strategic partners and a worldwide community of over 100,000 alumni.

Achieving our goal of becoming an international leader in innovative graduate education will require us to deliver the suite of strategic priorities outlined in our new University strategy. The theme of ‘Looking further’ is not simply an encapsulation of all our University has achieved in its first 50 years, it also articulates a continued shared ambition for future excellence, impact and influence.

I look forward to celebrating with you.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
President and Vice-Chancellor


Vice-Chancellor's June message

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📥  Alumni event, Celebrating successes, Messages

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you will have already seen last week’s wonderful news that the University has received its largest ever philanthropic gift in the form of a £5m donation from Bath alumnus and friend Dr Jonathan Milner.

A Biology & Biochemistry graduate from 1988, Dr Milner has been a long-term philanthropist to higher education with a particular interest in evolution. His remarkable gift will help us launch the UK’s first centre for evolution research here at Bath.

This landmark moment in our history was announced at the launch of our 50th anniversary fund-raising campaign which took place last week at the iconic Gherkin building in central London, and was attended by alumni, supporters and senior academic colleagues.

During the evening we also announced that rather than settling for the expected target of £50m for our golden anniversary we have instead set ourselves the ambition of raising £66m to reflect the year we received our Royal Charter. Whilst challenging I believe this is achievable given the momentum we have already established, and the many excellent relationships we are developing with alumni, friends and supporters globally.

Our University has achieved much in its first 50 years and is well established as a nurturing environment for enterprising minds. We are renowned nationally for our research and teaching excellence as reflected in our outstanding REF results and our number one ranking for student experience in both the National Student Survey and The Times Higher Education (THE) survey. We expect our fundraising efforts will enable us to set our sights even higher.

The focus of the campaign is ‘Help us to look further’ and it is by looking further we are able to find solutions to real-world problems.

A short film showcasing how our research is already ‘looking further’ and featuring some of our student scholars and researchers who have received alumni support had its premiere at the fundraising launch. We will be using this to help develop the campaign in the coming months.

The Bath launch of the fundraising efforts will take place at The Chancellor’s Dinner in the Pump Room at the end of the month, and a comprehensive programme of activity is being planned over the course of our 50th celebrations.

Later this month we can look forward to our summer graduations in Bath’s historic Abbey. Always a wonderful event and one of the highlights of my calendar, graduation day is an opportunity for students, their families, and academic colleagues to celebrate both the hard work and achievement of the past three or four years.

Graduations will follow hot on the heels of our June Open Day. I know there will be plenty of work going on in the run up to the day to get ready for the thousands of expected visitors and I’d like to thank all those involved in advance in helping to ensure our visitors get the warmest of welcomes.

I’m still very much enjoying my visits to academic and professional service departments and the passion and energy of the staff I meet. You can read about them elsewhere on these webpages.

Best wishes

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL


Special alumni New York reception with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor

📥  Alumni event

Nearly 100 alumni and friends from across the United States recently joined the Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL, for a special reception at the Essex House Hotel, New York.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell presents at the alumni reception in New York. Also pictured is the Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex Prince Edward

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell presents at the alumni reception in New York. Also pictured is the Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, and Michael Ashworth

The Chancellor welcomed guests to the event and introduced Professor Breakwell who spoke about the University’s recent good news including our excellent REF results and topping the National Student Survey for student satisfaction for a second year running. Guests also heard about our plans for the upcoming 50th anniversary, and the important role of alumni within that, before enjoying the chance to chat with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor over drinks and canapés.

As the first event in North America hosted by a University of Bath Chancellor, the evening also provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate two of our generous donors: Mike Ashworth (BSc Economics with Computing & Statistics 1986) signed the Chancellor’s Roll of Honour in recognition of his cumulative contributions to the University over a number of years and Honorary DSc, Professor Raymond F Schinazi (BSc Chemistry 1972 and PhD Chemistry 1976) formally announced his gift of $500,000 to the University of Bath Foundation. University fundraising in the USA has a long tradition, and it is encouraging to see signs that Bath is now beginning to benefit too.

New York Alumni reception

Denise and Bob Fisher, with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

A selection of photographs from the evening are available on the Alumni Relations Flickr page. If you have any of your own please do send them to

If you live in the area and want to be kept up to date with activities happening in the New York Tri-State Area please feel free to join the LinkedIn group.