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New building honours Esther

Following a 2018 Leeds magazine story, the University will name a new building after a graduate who saved the lives of intellectuals fleeing persecution. The Esther Simpson building is under construction on Lyddon Terrace. It will include space for the business and law schools as well as a central teaching area.

Read Esther’s inspirational story at https://alumni.leeds.ac.uk/news/grace-under-pressure

Still partying at 80

Since it opened in 1939, the Old Bar in the LUU Building has been the social venue of choice (or convenience) for thousands of students. Once alleged – but never conclusively proven – to have the longest bar in Europe, it has been refurbished many times but never lost its character. In December LUU held a 1930s-style party to celebrate the Bar’s 80th birthday.

Roadmap to a carbon neutral city

A new report, produced by Professor Andy Gouldson and his team in the School of Earth and Environment, sets out how Leeds can become carbon neutral by 2030. It outlines innovative measures including switching the heating network to decarbonised hydrogen, retrofitting domestic, public and commercial buildings and promoting ambitious levels of walking and cycling.

Peering on their peregrinations

Get ready to binge watch Leeds’ peregrines in their custom-built nest high on a Parkinson tower ledge. Last year, our popular nest-cam provided an engrossing story of four fluffy chicks, from incubation to their first flight. Meanwhile, students, staff and local birdwatchers congregated on Woodhouse Lane for a chance to see the world’s fastest birds.

Watch the nest this year at alumni.leeds.ac.uk/peregrines

Accolades for the gender agenda

The University’s commitment to gender equality has been recognised with a total of eight awards under the Athena SWAN charter. In November, Leeds Medical School was the first medical school in England to achieve a gold award. The national charter recognises commitment to gender equality in terms of representation; progress of students; journey through career milestones; and working environment for staff.

Donors honoured in new union

When students arrived at Leeds University Union in September, they found open spaces, bright colours, natural light and plenty of places to take a break. A year-long upgrade has modernised the building and created open communal areas, new shops and cafés, and purpose-built rehearsal studios. The derelict Raven Theatre, an underground in-the-round space once used for a host of performances, has been rejuvenated as the Pyramid Theatre and is used for productions by societies and visiting theatre groups. A glass roof between the Union and the Refectory enables light to flood in to a bright new atrium. Here, a donor wall shows the names of more than 400 alumni and other Footsteps Fund supporters who amongst them contributed more than £100,000 towards the cost of the upgrade.

Union refurbishment uncovers lost mural

Contractors refurbishing the Union were amazed to uncover part of a mural painted in the 1970s by political refugees of Chile’s repressive Pinochet regime. For 40 years, this powerful piece of history hid behind a kitchen in LUU. Once discovered, building plans were changed to preserve the wall on which the mural appears. It now looks down on a modern meeting room and plans are under way to restore the rest of the artwork.

Refugees from Chile came to Leeds in the mid-seventies through support from students and local trade unions. Do you remember the mural? Help us piece together its story here.

Swords and scholarship

Sword-bearing knights, paradigm-shifting debate and the Iron Throne all featured as part of this year’s International Medieval Congress in July. Founded in 1994, the world-renowned annual conference attracts over 2,300 medievalists from all over the world.

The next conference, to be held in July 2018, will be particularly significant as it marks the 50th anniversary of Medieval Studies at Leeds and the 25th Congress. “We often think of the Middle Ages as a period without much diversity,” says Axel Muller (MA History 1996), the Congress’s Director. “In fact, it was full of complex and fast-changing societies with huge amounts of social interaction.” Since 1967, Leeds has been home to an internationally renowned community of medievalists. Professor John Le Patourel led a group of pioneers to form a Centre for Medieval Studies and so the IMS (Institute for Medieval Studies) was born. Concurrently, Professor Peter Sawyer established the International Medieval Bibliography, the leading compilation of medieval scholarship, available in print and digital formats. Today the IMS is home to over 70 staff, postgraduate students and associates.

High marks for Leeds

Latest accolades for Leeds

Edward Boyle Library reborn for today

When former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan opened the Undergraduate Library in 1975 it was an innovative, state-of-the-art, learning space. What became known as the Edward Boyle Library was at the heart of the university experience for generations of students. Now, after a £25 million investment, the ‘Eddy B’ is as popular as ever and is equipped for the way that students learn today. Although the structure of the building hasn’t changed and rows of bookshelves still chart its six floors, the Library’s technology-rich environment makes it markedly different.

Students can meet round communal tables, pull up portable desks to high-backed armchairs that block out peripheral views, or sit at traditional desks designed to capture maximum natural light. There’s a café, computer clusters, a postgraduate area – and dedicated resources for the study of the physical sciences, engineering and social sciences.

Nexus is new gateway for businesses

From September 2018, a new innovation and enterprise initiative (known as Nexus) comprising a £40 million campus-based centre will transform the University’s relationships with industry and help it bring its research to market. Nexus will provide businesses with a single gateway to Leeds’ broad world-class research and innovation expertise showcasing strengths in data, health, environment and engineering. At its core will be a vibrant and dynamic community of innovators spanning academia and industry. Nexus will provide access to office and lab space, shared areas for networking and collaboration, and Leeds’ state-of-the-art facilities, alongside an end-to-end professional support service.

Its new Director, Dr Martin Stow, a PhD biochemist, has more than 25 years’ research and development experience both in large multinational companies at the Vice-President level as well as leading start-ups. He stresses its focus on addressing real world market needs and driving business growth.

Roger Marsh OBE (Metallurgy 1976), Chairman of the Leeds Enterprise Partnership, which promotes the Leeds City Region’s interests nationally and internationally says: “Local businesses and entrepreneurs will have a place where they can engage and benefit from the knowledge and capabilities of the University, enabling the development of next generation technologies and products.”

On the rails

The University is investing £10 million to develop the UK’s first dedicated centre for high speed rail technologies and system integration. The Institute will provide a centre for planning, design and construction. “We have a genuine opportunity to forge ahead and become leaders in a high speed rail market that is expanding rapidly,” says Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation.

Wolfson Centre tackles major health challenges

A new research centre brings together expertise from the universities of Leeds and Bradford with Bradford Teaching Hospitals. Based at Bradford Royal Infirmary, the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research will address key priorities – childhood, ageing and safe care. Professor Mark Mon-Williams, the University’s academic lead for the centre, said: “Our goal is to bring together researchers from a range of disciplines to improve health outcomes for everyone.”

Immurement, by Ben Eggleton

(Art and Design 2014), reflects the debilitating effect of dementia. Set in the Clothworkers’ Central Building common room, it shows three solid figures in armchairs, suggesting their physical and mental entrapment in their own bodies.

Liliane Lijn’s Converse Column

a nine-metre high revolving column of transforming words, was unveiled outside Nexus last year. Its twin cylinders of continually-moving words represent communication as a creative symbol of both Nexus and the wider University.

Simon Fujiwara’s A Spire

is an arresting sight for those approaching the University on Woodhouse Lane. It’s conceived as a visual timeline, a skyward archaeology connecting the heavy industry of the city’s past with a cleaner, greener present.

Keith Wilson’s five-metre Sign for Art

dominates Beech Grove Plaza outside the Great Hall. It replicates two spaced fingertips being drawn in a wave across the forehead of a deaf-blind student – a tactile announcement of their imminent activity of making art.

Welcoming new alumni

Leeds welcomed almost 3,000 new members into our alumni community in December. Students, supported by friends and family, graduated at 21 ceremonies over seven days.

The new graduates included 1,000 international students from 50 different countries. The graduates received an alumni pin to celebrate their new status as Leeds alumni.

They join 8,000 graduates from earlier in 2019, swelling our alumni community to almost 280,000 people across the world. Leeds has one of the largest and most diverse alumni communities of any UK university.

Thanks a million

One million pieces of single-use plastic have been removed from use across campus a year on from the launch of the joint University and LUU pledge to go single-use plastic-free by 2023. The target was set to inspire staff and students to drive operational changes and encourage innovative research.

In deep water

A conference in the Great Hall marked the tenth anniversary of renowned interdisciplinary research group water@leeds, one of the largest centres for water research in the world. Collaborators in academia and industry joined speakers from water@leeds to highlight the impact of the research on society and the economy. Changing climate and rainfall patterns, growing global populations, shifting land use patterns and increasing water consumption all provide challenges that water@leeds is helping to address.

Climate commitment

The University of Leeds has fully divested from significant fossil fuel extractors and has set out seven bold principles it will adopt to help tackle the climate crisis. The principles have been approved by the University’s governing body, its Council, and outline the ambitious steps Leeds is taking to support the global transition to a low-carbon future. They commit to a 2030 net-zero carbon footprint target and a drive to achieve no direct carbon emissions by 2050. They also include a commitment to reorient research and teaching away from the fossil fuel sector over time.

A gateway to discovery

Walking up Woodhouse Lane from Leeds city centre you will notice a striking new route into the University campus. On the site of the old Fenton Street, Discovery Way leads up past the EC Stoner Building and towards the Roger Stevens lecture theatre block. Located on Discovery Way is Nexus, which brings business and research together in the same building.

The new £40 million Nexus building has five floors of offices, labs, event spaces and a café, forming a hub for the city’s growing innovation community.

Businesses can join the Nexus community and even locate their business in the building’s high-quality office and lab workspace. Open for less than a year, this growing community already includes a diverse range of innovators, start-up companies, SMEs, business advisory partners and funding networks.

The Nexus team builds relationships between business and the University to develop partnerships that drive economic and societal impact. The team works to connect these organisations to the right support to allow their ventures to thrive. Whether that’s research and innovation collaborations, funding opportunities, recruitment or continuing professional development.

Find out more at nexus.leeds.co.uk