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A farewell message from our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink.

Dear colleagues,

This is my last message to you as Vice-Chancellor as I leave tomorrow, with my wife Tobea, to join my family in South Africa and to begin my retirement.

In the run-up to my leaving Newcastle, I have enjoyed a series of occasions where I have had the chance to say farewell to colleagues who have become friends. I have also been able to say ‘thank you’ for making me and my family feel so very welcome since coming here.

At these various events I have been able to reflect on my time at this wonderful University and in this great city.

When I applied for the job at Newcastle, over a decade ago, I had never worked in the UK before and never visited the North East. However, I did my homework and I came to the city with an idea that I felt would resonate at this particular University and in this part of the world.

The idea was to create a ‘world-class civic university’ where the excellence of our teaching and research would have real purpose and a positive impact on civil society. At my job interview in 2004, I used the River Tyne’s various iconic bridges as a metaphor for my vision: that I wanted to lead a university that would not just build bridges, but would cross them to engage with its community.

The introduction of the three societal challenge themes of ageing, social renewal and sustainability were a manifestation of this vision and a way to focus our academic efforts on the issues that really mattered, not just to Newcastle, but to the world. The on-going development of Science Central was another tangible example of our desire to work with business and other organisations to bring new jobs and investment to the region. And our commitment to parity of esteem in research and teaching continues to be reflected in consistently high student satisfaction ratings and prepares us well for next year’s Teaching Excellence Framework.

I also believe the physical fabric of the University has changed for the better during my time here. I wanted the campus to symbolise a world-class civic university by facing the city and becoming more permeable to the outside world, so that our staff and students would be able to interact with the public and share communal spaces. I think we have achieved this too.

I would like to think that my original vision, encapsulated in the two guiding questions of “What we are good at?” and “What we are good for?” has taken root and is now part of the University’s DNA. And I consider this to be an achievement which has put Newcastle University in a strong position of knowing exactly what it stands for.

However, none of this would have been possible without the support and commitment of you all. For which, I am truly grateful.

How do I feel looking back at my time in Newcastle? I am content. And I thank you all for making these the best 10 years of my life.

All that remains is to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas and the very best for 2017.

Professor Chris Brink



published on: 12th December 2016


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