Thanking supporters who make university dreams reality
12 April 2022
On Saturday 19 March the University hosted its first Supporter Appreciation Evening on Whiteknights Campus. Hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Parveen Yaqoob, guests were invited to enjoy drinks and canapes, and to hear more about the ways in which their support is helping students to overcome financial hardship and furthering research into climate change.
Guests enjoyed a virtual update from Professor Ed Hawkins, including data that highlighted the far-reaching impacts of climate change, locally and globally, over the last two centuries. Professor Hawkins’ speech celebrated the work of the University and thanked volunteer citizen scientists, who have been interpreting historical weather records and recording them, for enabling researchers to better understand how our climate has changed. The key takeaway was that collaborations with donors and volunteers have helped, and are continuing to help, further important scientific enquiry.
Following on from Ed’s video presentation was a Question-and-Answer session with Professor Rowan Sutton, Director of Science (Climate) at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Insights were offered from alumni who studied as early as the 1950s, highlighting the evolution of modern climate research and the limitations still faced. There was a particularly lively discussion about the benefits and restrictions of machine learning and volunteers, with the conclusion that volunteers are vital, and will continue to be, owing particularly to the challenges produced by handwritten historical records.
Dr Paddy Woodman spoke to supporters about the reality of being a student at university today, highlighting how the cost of living increases and the invasion of Ukraine are impacting our student community in a multitude of ways.
In an eye-opening series of graphics, Dr Woodman shared insights into how much funding students from different backgrounds are likely to receive and how much it actually costs to attend university. Though many in attendance donate to the Student Support Fund, Dr Woodman’s figures still shocked some, who were surprised at the realities of the challenges many students face when trying to make ends meet.
Dr Woodman thanked supporters of the University for helping to close this gap, recognising how their support enables more students to overcome financial barriers to success through the provision of hardship grants, financial education software, scholarships, and bursaries.
The event was also attended by students, staff and researchers across the University, representing the vast array of projects supporters have funded over recent years. Guests were challenged to try out a rowing machine supplied by the University Boat Club, which has been supported by generous alumni for over 30 years. For those less inclined to an evening workout, Empowering Change scholar Mabel and Walker Institute PhD student Jessica were ready to talk about the host of ways in which donor support has helped them to achieve more in their studies.
One supporter said: “I really enjoyed getting to know about the way the University uses the money provided for the student hardship fund. I also found the talk about climate change and the volunteer project fascinating. It was a really lovely event, thank you.”
The event allowed supporters of the University to see how their support has further enabled students to succeed, research to advance, and extra-curricular clubs to continue despite the challenges of the last two years.