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Nobel Laureate appointed as president at Cardiff University

23 November 2009

Lord Kinnock and Sir Martin in council chamberLord Kinnock and Sir Martin in council chamber

Cardiff University has marked the Inauguration of its new President, formally passing the honour from one major figure in the University’s history to another.

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The Inauguration of Professor Sir Martin Evans as the 22nd President of Cardiff University took place at a special ceremony (23 November), which also recognised the outstanding contribution of Lord Neil Kinnock as president (1998-2009). The President is the most senior of the University’s honorary officers.

The University’s new President, Professor Sir Martin Evans, FRS won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2007 - the most prestigious honour in world science- for a breakthrough which is transforming modern medical science. Sir Martin was the first scientist to identify embryonic stem cells, which can be adapted for a wide variety of medical purposes. His discoveries are now being applied in virtually all areas of biomedicine – from basic research to the development of new therapies. Sir Martin is heralded worldwide as "the father of stem cell research" and named as one of "ten Britons who have shaped our world."

Sir Martin succeeds Lord Neil Kinnock, who has held the post since 1998, having first studied at the University in the 1960s. Cardiff University is also where Lord Kinnock met his wife Glenys Kinnock, where he had his first taste of political leadership as President of the Students’ Union and where, in the last eleven years as President he has gained enormous pleasure in overseeing the international recognition won by University staff and students.

Lord Kinnock and Sir Martin

Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Dr David Grant said: "It has been a major challenge for the University to find a successor to such an outstanding President as Neil. In Professor Sir Martin Evans, I know that the University has appointed a dedicated friend, ambassador, advocate and supporter of Cardiff University. Lord Kinnock has presided over a period of immense development and great achievements at Cardiff and, Sir Martin who has led many of our developments will be a guiding-light as we strive for even greater success."

Sir Martin said: "I am delighted and deeply honoured to accept my new role as President of Cardiff University.

"Neil has presided over one of the most remarkable periods of growth and success in the University’s history. The University has much to look forward to in the future as we make exciting and significant progress in pursuit of our vision to be one of the world’s leading universities."

Lord Kinnock said: "I am delighted that my successor Professor Sir Martin Evans is someone of real global distinction. I will continue to observe the ongoing success and new achievements of Cardiff University – but it will be as an observer rather than a participant. I will always of course, with or without any formal title, be ready, willing and eager to proclaim the worth of this University to which I owe so very much."

University Orator, Professor Paul Atkinson spoke about Lord Kinnock's contribution to the University and introduced the new President, Sir Martin Evans.The ceremony included a reading of the poem ‘Education’, written by Gwyneth Lewis as a special commission for the University’s 125th Anniversary in 2008. The poem was read by Anni Parri, a postgraduate student in the School of Welsh.

Julia Lezhneva performingJulia Lezhneva performing

Julia Lezhneva, a student of the International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University closed the ceremony with a performance of "Non piu mesta accanto al fuoco" from Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

A major new initiative to expand and enhance the University’s postgraduate research community was also announced at the event. Recognising that the University's President Professor Sir Martin Evans is one of the leading researchers of the age, the University has launched the President's Research Scholarships.

Marking the University’s largest investment in postgraduate scholarships, nearly £4M will enable around 80 talented and promising students to pursue postgraduate research studies at the University. The President’s Research Scholarships will be a significant addition to the University’s existing scholarship investments, aiming to enhance the number of people undertaking significant, challenging and innovative research to PhD level at Cardiff University.

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