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80 years of excellence at the University of Reading – University of Reading

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80 years of excellence at the University of Reading

Release Date 13 March 2006

Celebrations at the announcement of the granting of the Royal CharterOn 17 March 1926, the University of Reading formally came into existence when it was granted its Royal Charter. To celebrate the University's 80th anniversary on 17 March 2006, local dignitaries, staff and students will gather to see Vice-Chancellor Professor Gordon Marshall cut a giant birthday cake with a sword. On the day, staff and students will be able to celebrate with a slice of the cake, and they will collect a memorabilia gift and Four Score and More, a book specially commissioned to commemorate the University's 80th year. Written by Professor Cedric Brown, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Four Score and More is a history of the University from its inception in the 1890s until the present day (1). Professor Gordon Marshall said: "With cutting edge research, top quality teaching and links to businesses and organisations all over the world, Reading is very much a 21st century university. "But everyone here also takes great pride in the University's heritage, and 80 years on from the granting of the Royal Charter, our values and traditions remain intact. After all, our current focus on a friendly campus, educational excellence, creativity and ambition are all standards that were close to the hearts of the men and women involved with the University back in 1926. "So Friday 17 March is a very exciting day for all of us. It's a chance to celebrate the University's glorious history and its promising future." As well as the 17 March ceremony, the University has organised a number of events in 2006 to commemorate the 80th anniversary. In February, the celebrations kicked off with a sports festival, which was a roaring success. At the end of March, the University's new £1 million Bob Kayley Studio Theatre will host the world premiere of First Love, a novella by renowned writer Samuel Beckett – whose manuscripts, letters etc are stored in the world's largest archive of Beckett materials at the University of Reading. Finally, in May, the University's Department of Meteorology, which recently won a Queen's Anniversary Prize for its contribution to our understanding of weather and climate change, will hold a series of lectures, presentations and other events to mark its own 40th anniversary. End Notes for editors 1. A brief history of the University of Reading Our origins lie in the Schools of Art and Science established in Reading in 1860 and 1870. These became part of an extension college opened in 1892 by Christ Church, Oxford. In 1904, the local Palmer family, of the famous biscuit manufacturer Huntley & Palmers, gifted our London Road site. Their continued support helped to fund expansion, including the opening of Wantage Hall in 1908 and The Research Institute in Dairying in 1912. The first Royal Charter petition, submitted in 1920, was unsuccessful due to insufficient numbers, but in May 1925, the second petition was successful and Dr William Childs, the first Vice-Chancellor, accepted the Royal Charter on March 17 1926 from King George V. Since then a number of milestones have shaped the University's history and made us the centre of excellence and vibrant community we are today: 1947 Purchase of the main 320-acre Whiteknights campus (for £105,000). It is the former country estate of the Marquis of Blandford. 1972 The first British university to integrate an industrial Research and Development Group on its campus 1989 Merger with Bulmershe College of Higher Education to create our third campus, a 42-acre site in Woodley, close to Whiteknights. Also, we become the first university to win the Queen's Award for Export Achievement. 1998 and 2006 twice receives the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education Today Firmly established as a leading force in British higher education, we continue to build on our success. Our ambitious multi-million pound investment programme is delivering state-of-the-art facilities, strengthening our international reputation for quality teaching, research and enterprise. At the inauguration of the University of Reading in 1926 there were around 1,500 students and less than 100 staff. Today on our 80th anniversary there are 17,518 students and 4,058 staff. 2. Photographers and reporters wishing to attend the 17 March event should confirm attendance beforehand with Craig Hillsley, University Press Officer. T: 0118 378 7388 E:

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