Affirming our international influence through worldwide partnerships and extending our research power are two key strands of our 2016-2021 strategy.
These cannot be achieved solely from our campus here in Bath. A key part of my role as Vice-Chancellor involves working with our faculty and alumni team to forge new collaborations and seek fresh opportunities.
Last week in New York was an important chance to celebrate the close of our 50th anniversary with supporters and alumni who play a crucial role in supporting scholarships and funding our research. You can read more about this event here.
Whilst in the city, we had the chance to meet with the President of New York University (NYU), Professor Andrew Hamilton whom colleagues here may recall was formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. NYU has a campus in London and operates globally and we had a good conversation about areas of potential inter-institutional co-operation.
Equally key were the meetings with influential academics, including the Dean of Science at New York University, Professor Michael D. Purugganan, who spent time with us last year as a Global Chair at the Milner Centre. Our Global Chairs visiting professorship scheme attracts distinguished, globally renowned scholars to engage in a programme of high-profile research activity at our University. This meeting was an invaluable opportunity to reflect on how we enhance this network and continue to foster close relationships with these academics even after their term with us is over.
Professor David Coley’s important research into developing better shelters for refugees was at the heart of our visit to the United States. We met with David Miliband who is now President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and engaged in fruitful conversations with his team about how to expand this work in refugee camps beyond Jordan. We also had an excellent meeting with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations in New York, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous. We were able to discuss the practical applications of David’s work helping to improve the living conditions of people living in extreme climates both for refugees and also for host communities in the Middle East.
Our schedule on this short trip allowed a meeting of the Foundation Board, our US charity, which made some important decisions about supporting sports scholarships for US students, further supporting the Global Chairs visiting professorship scheme and also creating a joint grant with Marshall Scholarships to attract the best and brightest minds to Bath.
For the next few weeks, my focus is closer to home, welcoming new and returning students back to campus. However, this trip will stay in my mind as a testament to the strength of our alumni network and the importance of looking further to forge new and fruitful partnerships across the globe.