Professor Huw Beynon was clearly delighted with the honour of having the reigning monarch opening his department.
With some 80 staff and more than 200 postgraduate students, the School has quickly established itself as a thriving centre for research and teaching in the fields of sociology, educational studies, social policy, criminology and social work. The School also plays a major role in fostering public debate and policy development.
The School of Social Sciences, the University's latest 'super-school', was officially opened by The Queen in the formal surroundings of the Council Chamber in the Glamorgan Building which it shares with the Department of City and Regional Planning. Professor Beynon welcomed Her Majesty and briefed her and the royal party on the structure and long term mission of the School.
Her Majesty addressed the audience prior to officially opening the new School of Social Sciences.
Professor Beynon said:
"It is a pleasure to welcome you to one of the great historical buildings of twentieth century Wales. Later you will formally open the first School of Social Sciences of the twenty first century. We hope that it will develop a stature that matches its surroundings.
"When this building was constructed in the early decades of the last century South Wales was the world's premier coal producing region. The coals of the Rhondda valleys promoted the expansion of Cardiff and of the city's port as a major centre of exports. It was appropriate therefore that this building - as the political expression of Glamorgan's people - should surround itself with powerful symbols of coalmining and seafaring labour.
"Today almost all the coal mines have closed and Cardiff's eminence as a port has declined. However within this new School we have research groups that study those two great industries and examine the ways in which they have changed. Like others in the School they have identified processes of globalisation that are fuelling ongoing and dynamic changes in industry and in people's lives.
"Your Majesty your visit to this University is principally associated with our achievements in relation to commerce and industry. Here, of course, the natural sciences and engineering are critical. The social sciences also have a role and this School is particularly concerned to look out beyond the walls of this building.
"Economic change involves the development of managers and work-forces with new kinds of skills and approaches. It also involves questions of training, retraining and adjustment. These issues are particularly important in Wales at a time when its major industries have declined and new ones are being developed. What is involved here is both the formal knowledge of the companies and the latent skills and understandings of their employees. Nowadays these processes are undergoing perpetual change and it seems that we are all required to adjust, readjust and learn new skills and new ways of doing things. It has now become common to talk of "Life-long learning" and "the Learning Society". These are topics that are studied in great depth here.
"These changes also create problems and pose issues that are not easily resolved. One of strengths of the School relates to its day to day involvement with policy makers and practitioners in a number of fields. Here we come into regular contact with the consequences of economic and technical change. In several instances our researchers are also involved in regulating that process of change itself.
"The developments of new technologies in medicine, especially in relation to genetic manipulation create both the potential for a better world and also for considerable social disorder and unhappiness. The regulation of these processes and a consideration of the ethical issues involved concern many of us here, as does the question of how general standards of health can be improved. This work is sustained by our close relationship with colleagues in the College of Medicine.
"At a different level, economic and technical change has also been accompanied by problems of unemployment, social dislocation and in many instances what sociologists refer to as anomie, a loss of any real sense of purpose, or understanding of one's place within a changing world. The consequences here are many: people give up; people turn to drink; their children turn to cheaper forms of illegal drugs; young women become pregnant in their teens and raise children alone; crime rates increase; Neighbourhood Watch and private policing schemes are set up; older people feel threatened. There is clearly a need to develop an understanding of how these problems emerge and how they may relate to each other. Equally important are the ways in which the various practitioners - teachers, social workers, lawyers and police - understand their role and the problems they have to deal with in their professional lives.
"This broadly stated is the Agenda we have set ourselves and represents much of the research that we will carry out here in the coming decade. It would be a great honour for us if you would now formally open the School."
The Queen responded by saying:
"Social Sciences have an important role to play in the development of our society. Learning more about the issues which affect us, whether in fields of education, crime or social policy, is a worthy goal. It therefore gives me great pleasure to declare the Cardiff University School of Social Sciences open."
To warm applause from the assembled staff The Queen then unveiled the plaque to officially open the School of Social Sciences.
Sharing a word with Professor Huw Beynon, head of the School of Social Sciences, after the unveiling.