A Christmas message from Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor David Maguire


    As we approach the end of another significant year, I would like to wish our community of donors, supporters, and alumni a safe and joyful festive season.

    Professor David Maguire

    Welcome to the December edition of our Pioneer bulletin, where we bring you the latest exciting updates on the transformative impact of philanthropy at UEA.

    As we approach the end of another significant year, I would like to wish our community of donors, supporters, and alumni a safe and joyful festive season.

    With the Christmas holidays   just around the corner, our vibrant campus is abuzz with students, staff, and supporters - each bringing their own unique voices and insights. One of the greatest privileges of serving as Vice-Chancellor has been the opportunity to engage with people across our campus.  It's clear to me that we all share the same passion and enthusiasm for UEA, and, as we enter a fresh New Year, I look forward to continuing to make our campus a great place to study, work and thrive.

    This year marks a significant milestone in our history: it’s our 60th anniversary. Together, we celebrate six decades of academic endeavour that has seen UEA recognised for world class research and excellent teaching. The legacy is one of academic excellence and a close-knit community that embraces diversity, sustainability, and creativity. As we mark this significant occasion, we pay great tribute to our philanthropic supporters, past and present, who continue to inspire and enable UEA.

    Just as our visionary supporters did in our founding year, we are looking forward with optimism and determination. Work is well underway on finalising UEA’s new 2030 Strategy, which will shape the future direction of our University. This strategic activity is enriched by the valuable contributions from our dedicated staff and supporters.  On that note, I want to express my personal gratitude to each of you, for your valued support, which empowers us to achieve great things together, and allows us to continue to ‘Do Different’.

    We have had to make some difficult choices this year, much trailed in the media, to reorganise the business plan for the University, to generate a sustainable financial plan that will see UEA return to a surplus budget within a few years. We have decreased the staffing structure of the University by over 300 posts, without compulsory redundancy, and have reduced expenditure by £30m. It has been a difficult exercise for the staff, and unsettling for the students, but was necessary and now we can move on and concentrate on our core purpose – research and teaching for the public benefit.

    Back in February, we celebrated the unveiling of the "The Last Voyage of The Gloucester" exhibition at Norwich Castle. This exhibition, which ran from February to September, was a remarkable collaboration which brought to light the fascinating story of the royal ship which sank off the Norfolk coast in 1682, only to be rediscovered 325 years later by diver brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, and their friend, James Little. UEA played a key role as both an academic partner and co-curator of this significant exhibition that featured an array of artefacts retrieved from the seabed, offering a captivating glimpse into a chapter of history that had long been hidden beneath the waves.

    This ongoing research, generously supported by your contributions, will play a pivotal role in preserving this remarkable historical story. Upcoming plans, including the establishment of research fellowships and a maritime history centre, hinge on the continued  support of UEA's philanthropic community, with future hopes of opening a permanent museum managed by the Gloucester (1682) Charitable Trust.

    Thanks to your generous support, pioneering medical research at UEA continues to revolutionise cancer diagnosis and treatment. UEA alumnus  Dr Darrell Green and his research team  are making significant progress in childhood bone cancer research, with new drug Bensofib successfully clearing initial toxicity tests, a crucial step in ensuring its safety. This pharmaceutical breakthrough could help increase survival rates for children with bone cancer, and garnered widespread media attention in March, including a feature on the BBC's website. Your donations are advancing this life-saving work, and this latest news brings us one step closer to transforming the lives of those affected by this terrible disease.

    Professor Colin Cooper and his talented team have also made impressive strides this year in prostate cancer research. They are developing two diagnostic tests, offering the potential of delivering faster, less invasive, and more reliable ways to detect prostate cancer - an achievement made possible solely through philanthropy. These innovative tests have both reached the clinical testing and accreditation stages of development and evaluation to ensure the integrity and reliability of the testing procedures. Professor Cooper was interviewed by Sky News in June which gained a lot of attention towards his team’s brilliant work, and shed particular light on the impact of the Bob Willis Fund's welcome and generous support of UEA in the fight against prostate cancer.

    Turning to Climate research: in July, UEA received a generous $1 million donation, all thanks to Norfolk resident and former Chairman of RELX PLC and of the Court of Bank of England, Sir Anthony Habgood. This investment will support UEA's world-leading research on climate change and rising sea levels through the future appointment of a new Professor in Coastal System Dynamics, who will study the impact of climate change on the East Anglian coast and beyond.

    UEA's Glider Science Group, led by Prof. Karen Heywood OBE, continues to lead the way in cutting-edge climate research. Their fleet of autonomous robotic ocean gliders, owned and operated by UEA, is transforming data collection in some of the world's most treacherous underwater environments. Over the last 13 years, the UEA Glider Group has successfully completed an impressive 51 glider missions and 26,277 dives, and a recent expedition beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica uncovered new insights into ice melt processes, showcasing the urgency and significance of their work in a rapidly changing world.

    We  welcomed over 50 donor-funded   scholars this year, enabling some of the best and brightest students to study with us. Together, we have made student support and scholarships accessible across an array of study disciplines, removing financial barriers to their success and providing students with the many opportunities a world class education provides.

    Lastly, our UEA Student Enterprise Fund, driven by your philanthropic commitment, continues to offer essential mentoring, grant funding   and investment to aspiring entrepreneurs to develop new businesses. This initiative, which has awarded a total of over £1.2 million in funding to date to start ups, is another wonderful example of how philanthropy at UEA can truly transform students' lives.

    As we bid farewell to 2023 and look forward to the new year around the corner, thank you again deeply for your commitment and unwavering support. Here's to UEA's 60th anniversary, and to the many years of success that lie ahead!

    On behalf of UEA and all those who have been supported by your generosity, I wish you all a very happy festive season, and with our best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2024.

    Warm regards,

    Professor David Maguire

    Vice Chancellor, University of East Anglia