Our campus, our people, and our connection
to the region all continue to change and grow.
Here are some of the latest developments at Leeds.
The University art collection has acquired a work by internationally acclaimed conceptual artist Sutapa Biswas (Fine Art 1985), the University’s first South Asian fine art student. Sutapa worked with images projected onto her own naked body to create the work, called Synapse 1. The resulting hand-printed photographs explore her experiences as an Indian artist in a postcolonial world.
Out of uncertainty, stress and demotivation emerged a painting by a young Leeds artist that won The Arts Society’s national Isolation Artwork Competition.
Fine art student Abigail McGourlay’s self-portrait, Brewing, sees her drinking a cup of tea in the bath: two things she found comforting during the first national lockdown.
The pandemic changed not only the ways the University teaches students like Abigail, but also our approach to the safety and wellbeing of more than 32,000 students and postgraduate researchers. Academic personal tutors and other staff have stayed in touch with students, both digitally and in person. Information points across campus have offered students in-person help with general issues, while online professional counselling and wellbeing appointments have been available for greater needs. Careers fairs also moved online.
University accommodation staff have proven critical at this time of loneliness. Self-isolating students have received emergency food and cleaning supplies – and even bedding for arriving international students – while a contactless laundry service has been available to all.
For spiritual needs, faith leaders have held online services and drop-ins, as well as providing some in-person support. Private prayer locations have remained open.
The University has also launched a Student Ideas Fund, which encourages students to be collaborators in improving the student experience and learning at Leeds.
Meanwhile, LUU has provided practical and financial support. Its support groups, clubs and societies have helped students cope and connect. Fruity nightclub went online to remind students that, even when meeting face to face is more difficult, there are stills ways to have fun and socialise.
As a result of a Leeds magazine story, a major new teaching building on Lyddon Terrace will be named after Esther Simpson (French and German 1924; Dip Education 1925; Hon LLD 1989). Esther worked tirelessly to save intellectuals fleeing persecution during the Second World War and in the following decades. The Esther Simpson Building, situated near Leeds University Business School and School of Law buildings, is part of a multimillion-pound development of facilities for these disciplines. It will include trading rooms, technology-rich flexible teaching areas and behavioural laboratories.
Read a previous Leeds magazine feature about Esther Simpson here.
Six members of the University community were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. OBEs went to Prof Sheena Radford for research in molecular biology, Prof Cath Noakes (Mathematical Engineering 1996; PhD Mechanical Engineering 2001) for services to the Covid-19 response and Prof Jason Lowe for services to climate science.
MBEs went to Leeds alumni Olivia Strong (Politics and Sociology 2015), the founder of the Run for Heroes campaign, and Francis Rainsford (Textile Management 1974), the British Honorary Consul in Peru.
Former University Pro-Chancellor Dame Linda Pollard (Honorary LLD 2013), Chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was made a Dame for services to healthcare and the community.
Our commitment to becoming a globally leading digital university is reflected in the new role of a Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation, which Prof Neil Morris is holding on an interim basis.
With a brief covering student education, research and the operations of the University, Neil is leading on work to harness the potential of digital technology to enhance research, learning and educational experiences – and to improve ways of working through digitisation and automation.
For students, this means traditional face-to-face and library learning is increasingly enhanced, although not replaced, by an array of digital resources and online learning. Digital technology offers the advantage of enabling students to interact with learners globally through online learning platforms. It opens opportunities for lifelong and professional education from Leeds for students throughout the world.
We will harness new and emerging technologies for research and education, allowing more people around the globe to access remote study at Leeds – and by doing so, reduce inequality and ensure our education has a still greater impact on society worldwide.
Leeds will become home to a new National Poetry Centre backed by Leeds City Council, the University, and poet laureate and Leeds Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage. The centre, planned to be ready for 2023, will raise the international profile of UK poets and provide a headquarters for collaboration and performance in poetry.
There’s an enormous change on Woodhouse Lane now that construction of the 15,700 square metre Sir William Henry Bragg Building nears completion. It will house exceptional research labs and other specialised facilities for the School of Computing and the School of Physics and Astronomy. With direct links to the Chemistry and Engineering buildings, the building will form part of our new integrated campus of engineering and physical sciences. The building’s name is a fitting tribute to the 1915 Nobel prize-winning Leeds professor, Sir William Henry Bragg. To this day, his fundamental work in X-ray crystallography has sweeping applications – from drug development to astronomy.
Read a previous Leeds magazine feature about William Bragg here.