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Launch of Cardiff University’s 125th Anniversary Year

24 January 2008

main building illuminated

The University’s 125th anniversary celebrations launched last night with a spectacular illumination of the Main Building and messages of support for 125 years of achievement at Cardiff University.

In 1883, Queen Victoria ruled a quarter of the globe, Robert Louis Stevenson was causing a sensation with Treasure Island, Blackburn Olympic won the FA Cup and the bells rang out for the opening of Cardiff University. It had 13 staff, 151 students, little income or resources and was operated from a dilapidated former infirmary building.

Today the University has some 6,000 staff (including two Nobel Laureates), 26,000 students, outstanding buildings and facilities in the city’s civic centre and Heath Park campus, an annual turnover of £370M, and a ranking among the world’s top 100 universities. It is part of the Russell Group of Britain’s top twenty leading research universities and has just won its third Queen’s Anniversary Prize for excellence.

Counting down to the University’s actual anniversary on October 24, 2008, a special programme of events has been drawn up. It will include concerts, award ceremonies, conferences, lectures, sporting and other cultural and social events all designed collectively to bring together the widest range of people to mark this important year.

Also under way is the University’s ‘125 for 125’ appeal. Building on the anniversary theme of ‘Changing Lives’ the appeal aims to raise an additional 125 scholarships to help the next generations of students and young researchers realise their academic ambitions at Cardiff. The first £100,000 raised will be match-funded by the University.

At the launch, University Vice Chancellor Dr David Grant reflected on the 125th anniversary celebrations as a milestone providing an opportunity both to celebrate past and present achievements and to look to the future. He said:

"Our 125th Anniversary is about celebrating all that our staff and students have achieved but also recognising the potential of all that can and will be achieved in the future. We will celebrate the foundations on which we have built our current successes, and we will recognise the distance we still have to travel. This promises to be an exciting journey. We want to build an even stronger legacy to support future generations."

Neil Kiccock and VC

University President Neil Kinnock (Lord Kinnock of Bedwelty) told guests at the launch:

"Never insular, never isolated, never an Ivory Tower - this is a University which for 125 years has put something substantial back into this part of South East Wales as well as Wales more widely. Cardiff University not only generates large employment but fosters the development of university based industry and employment innovation. It is an institution to which I owe just about everything, indeed only my parents compare, as a source of support, inspiration and opportunity."

Jane Hutt AM, Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, sent a message of support, saying: "I hope that this next year provides Cardiff University with the platform to showcase its many past achievements, whether they be academic, research-based or the valuable contribution it plays towards creating a vibrant Welsh economy."

The University has also launched a dedicated 125 anniversary website which will host an events calendar, fundraising updates, and a special ‘My Cardiff’ feature to enable anyone with a University connection to provide memories, anecdotes, stories, and pictures – or to comment on what the University has meant to them.