Thank you to all of you who have contributed your time and energies to the University in 2018. It’s been a fantastic eight months at the University and I would like to take the opportunity to update you on some of the changes here at Westminster since I began as Vice-Chancellor last spring, as well as reflecting on some of my ‘alumni highlights’ over the past few months.
In October 2018 we published Being Westminster, our refreshed University Strategy to take us up to 2023. The aim of this Strategy is to set out our story: our purpose and what we stand for, our ingredients for success, where we are aiming to be and how we can all play our part together.
You, as alumni, really are integral to the success of our Strategy. Our alumni play a major role as ambassadors for the University and as mentors for our students. There are many ways in which you can support the student experience, from hosting workshops and employability talks for students on international trips, to coming back to campus to provide careers inspiration and advice to students, and offering valuable work experience and placements.
I want to use this opportunity to say a special thank you to all of our alumni who are supporting our award-winning mentoring scheme, which brings together hundreds of students and alumni mentors each year. This makes an invaluable difference to enhancing the confidence and employment prospects of our students. I’d love to give every student the chance to connect with an alumni mentor. Our mentors give ten hours of their time – via email, skype or face-to-face – to meeting with our students and helping to guide them on their career ambitions.
It was wonderful to meet so many of our alumni donors and supporters at the Giving Groups dinner in September, a celebration of the huge difference that philanthropic donations make to the University. We also recognised the outstanding contribution of our alumni to the worldwide community by presenting the prizes for the first ever Westminster Alumni Awards. Winners included Lucy Earl, who, after graduating from her Marketing Communications degree at the University of Westminster, founded her YouTube channel ‘English with Lucy’, which teaches English to non-native speakers. It was also a pleasure to present alumnus Julian Page with the Social Impact Award for his work with his charity the Livingstone Tanzania Trust which works to move communities out of poverty. We also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Architect Angela Brady, the former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, who has dedicated her career to championing sustainable architecture.
The accomplishments of our alumni really do stretch far and wide, and I hope many of you will be inclined to share your achievements with the University community through the 2019 Alumni Awards, which are now open.
Meeting the students you have supported
Many of you are generously supporting our students through The 125 Fund, which gives our students the chance to apply for funding for projects that enhance their employment prospects and professional development. In the past year, the generosity of our alumni has allowed us to support 166 students through their unique projects. I was honoured to visit one of the projects in action earlier last year. Mija Valdez (BA Photography 2018) received funding to exhibit his photography exhibition at Brick Lane in London. The exhibition centred on his experience in care whilst growing up, portraying his journey through cinematic imagery. I went along and was immensely impressed by the thought and honesty Mija displayed through his work.
Alumni Survey – your views matter
Your voice is really important to us when it comes to delivering the very best experience and opportunities for our alumni. This is why we are launching Your Alumni Survey in February, to give you a chance to share your views on how we can enhance your connection to the University in a way that is relevant and meaningful to you. Please do keep an eye out in your inbox towards the end of February for your invitation to complete the survey.
We have much to look forward to over the coming year as we build on our successes from last year against the objectives in our refreshed Strategy. I look forward to engaging with many more of you throughout 2019.
If you can help us to support our students in any way, from mentoring to offering work placements to speaking about careers, please do get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
I wish you, your family and friends all health, happiness and success for the New Year.