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UoRM one year on: thoughts from Provost Tony Downes

UoRM Provost Tony Downes

At our formal opening, a year ago, I said:

“New universities are like babies: great fun to conceive but painful to deliver!  For that reason, there is a danger, if we regard this Inauguration Ceremony as the delivery, that we think the job is now done.  But as with the newborn child, the reality is that probably the next 20 years are the real job.  So, as I have said many times to my colleagues, this is not an ‘end’, it is just the real beginning.  It remains to shape our child to the adulthood we want it to have.”

Well, the delivery is behind us.  Friends and family have admired the baby, said how good looking it is, and remarked that it already looks quite a lot like its mother.  Now we are heading for the “terrible twos”: we get occasional glimpses of the angelic and exceptionally gifted child between bouts of behaviour which disappoint the parents.  Is now a good time to reflect on the year passed and the years ahead?

University of Reading Malaysia launch Feb 2016

I am inclined to say no, and declare this a ‘non-anniversary’. We have been delivering programmes for 3½ years now, and our first undergraduate degree will soon have its first graduates.  This is just another week of what should be regarded as business as usual.  Staff and students are going about doing what staff and students in good universities the world over do.  We have our highs and lows, good news and bad news, triumphs and disasters; my pleasure as Provost comes as much from seeing that normal business develop and thrive as it does from individual success.  To see our Student Association hold elections, install its Executive Committee and start to take control of student affairs will look like ‘old hat’ at Whiteknights; but for us it is another important step in our development.  To see academic colleagues collaborating on research projects, and working with stakeholders in our region, is something colleagues in the UK take for granted; for us it is a first step on what we believe will be a long road.  To see students we remember as shy, uncertain and gauche Foundation students become confident, successful leaders amongst their peers – prize winners – is of course familiar, but for us it brings a real sense of achievement and satisfaction.

University of Reading Malaysia

So, of course we should look back and remember a happy day, when the sun shone and the crowds came and we all nearly melted under our academic finery; but if we must have anniversaries I prefer to remember the day the first students at the University of Reading Malaysia sat in a classroom to be taught, and I look forward to many anniversaries of the first students graduating.

- Professor Tony Downes, Provost, UoRM


University of Reading Malaysia marks first anniversary 

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