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Golden Jubilee celebrations begin at University

Published: 
16 January 2002

It's not only the Queen who is celebrating her Golden Jubilee this year--2002 also marks the 50th anniversary of the granting of the University of Southampton's Royal Charter. After several years of planning and preparation, this month sees the beginning of a year-long programme of events, designed both to celebrate and commemorate what the University has achieved over the last 50 years.

The University received its Royal Charter on 29 April 1952, only a few weeks into the reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Charter created the University of Southampton, and enabled it to award its own degrees. Since that time around 100,000 students have graduated from the University, and it has developed into a leading research university, with an international reputation.

"Our celebrations this year enable us to pay tribute to all those who have contributed to the University's success and achievements over the last 50 years-from students and staff to collaborators and friends," said the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Wakeham.

A full programme of events that includes lectures, concerts, sports events, and reunions, will be launched on Tuesday 22 January with the opening of the new Golden Jubilee Gardens at the Highfield Campus. The opening will be carried out by the popular Groundforce personality Tommy Walsh, who will also tour the University gardens.

The Golden Jubilee Gardens, in front of the University's Hartley Library on University Road, have been redesigned and landscaped to provide a new home for the Atlantes sculptures which formed part of the original 1862 buildings in Below Bar, Southampton, of the Hartley Institution.

The University's Charter Day, 29 April, has already been declared a student holiday, and the Students' Union is planning a series of events to take place on the day. A Charter Day Concert of Haydn's Creation by the University Sinfonietta will take place at Southampton Guildhall, and will also commemorate the first performance of The Creation in Vienna in 1798. The University Symphony Orchestra will perform Mahler's ambitious Second Symphony ('Resurrection') on 22 March, offering a unique opportunity to hear a rarely performed work. Other events include a Charter Day Royal Run to London, when 50 students will run in relay from the University to Buckingham Palace to present a message of congratulation to the Queen, on 29 April, and an Alumni Homecoming Weekend, from 5 to 7 July, when former students of the University will be able to visit their old haunts on campus.

The University also has a Golden Jubilee Artist in Residence, Seran Kubisa, who is currently working with staff and students of the University's Centre for Neurosciences.

"It's very exciting that the Golden Jubilee year is finally here," said Alison McQuail, Golden Jubilee Co-ordinator. "I'm looking forward to a packed year of events and celebrations and hope that many people in Southampton will be keen to take part."

The Golden Jubilee also provides an opportunity for the University to assess its achievements and look forward to the future: "As we celebrate the past, we also look forward to the twenty-first century," said the Vice-Chancellor, "taking with us the best of what has been achieved since 1952, and committed to playing an enduring and substantial role at the forefront of higher education and research, nationally and globally."

Notes for editors

  1. The opening of the Golden Jubilee Gardens by Tommy Walsh takes place on Tuesday 22 January, at 11.45 am, outside the Hartley Library on University Road.
    Parking for media people is available in the Visitors' Car Park, across the road.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.

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