Students Staff
University of Essex

May 26, 2017

Celebrating our students’ achievements

Our celebratory event for the presidents of our societies and sports clubs is one of the highlights of the year for me, as I get a chance to hear all about the amazing activities our students get involved in during their time at Essex. Here is the speech I gave on the night.

An image of our Vice-Chancellor with some members of our student societies.

Our Vice-Chancellor with members of our student societies.

I’m delighted to welcome you all to this celebration of the achievements of your societies and sports clubs over the past year. Talking to you makes me realise, once again, how student societies and sports clubs are absolutely at the heart of the life of our University and the epitome of the Essex spirit.

Current presidents are here today so that I can personally thank you all for your contribution over the last academic year. This is also a perfect opportunity for me to welcome and meet our newly elected presidents for 2017-18, and to find out about your plans for the year ahead.

I am excited to see we now have 146 societies and 45 sports clubs across our Colchester and Southend campuses and it is fantastic for me to see society membership has now reached more than 3, 100 students with active sports club members now over 4, 500. Our sports clubs are booming with 15 having more than 100 club members.

Thank you to all the societies and sports clubs who are represented here tonight. I am amazed by the incredible diversity and delighted there are so many opportunities for our students to get involved in something they love – whether it is politics, origami or korfball.

Our societies

I want to congratulate you all on your achievements this year but in particular those societies who have achieved Gold, Silver and Bronze standards.

I would like to give a special mention to this year’s individual society award winners, Nathan Casteler who won the Presidents’ Award and Kristina Enger, Emma Holland, Alexis Matei, Rosie Redstone and Mohammad Shoaib who received awards for Exceptional Services to Societies.

I would like to thank the societies who have really stood out:

  • Society of the Year – Feminist Society
  • Southend Society of the Year – Essex Entrepreneurship Society (Southend)
  • Event of the Year – Speech & Language Society
  • Southend Event of the Year – Theatre Arts Society (Southend)
  • Most Improved Society – Film Society
  • New Society of the Year – Animal Protection Society
  • Southend New Society of the Year – Coloured Theatre Society (Southend)
  • Most Active Society – Theatre Arts Society
  • Most Community Focused Society Of The Year- Speech and Language Society
  • Most Employability-Focused Society of the Year – Speech and LanguageS ociety
  • Kick-Ass Society of the Year – Malaysian Society
  • The ‘Shaping Everything Around You’ Society of the Year – Writing Society
  • The ‘Benefitting All Members’ Society of the Year –  Romanian Society

Some of the highlights of the year include three of our societies being shortlisted in last week’s National Society Awards. The Feminist Society for Best Campaigning society, Amnesty also for Best Campaigning Society and our Theatre Arts Society for Best event. Our own ‘Golden Guild Awards’ saw a record breaking 51 society standards awarded.

I’ve been really pleased to see the huge increase in the number of society events around our campuses. Many of these events have been to raise money for local and national charities and our students have raised thousands of pounds for causes close to their hearts. Our societies have also been getting involved in our Students’ Union’s fantastic annual events including the excellent Winter Fayre, which had more than 60 stalls and performances, and the wonderful, popular and colourful Holi celebration.

Sports clubs

The number of students involved in sport continues to grow and we have had a truly amazing year. Special mention again to those clubs that have achieved Gold, Silver and Bronze standards and to this year’s Sports club award winners:

  • Coach of the Year – Sam Edwards (Rugby Union)
  • Newcomer of the Year – Amie Mowlam-Tett (Archery)
  • Social Club of the Year – Hockey
  • Team of the Year – Men’s Volleyball
  • 2nd Team Club of the Year – Hockey
  • Victor Ludorum Award – Amelia Stamp (Volleyball)
  • Simon Loveday Award – Andy Ball (Hockey)
  • Sports Volunteer of the Year – Annabel Semmence (Rugby 7’s/Snowsports)
  • Essex Blades President Award – Andy Ball (Hockey)

We also presented three Outstanding Sporting Achievement awards to Amelia Stamp, Marion Stoykov and Monika Kucerkova and I would also like to commend the 15 students who received Exceptional Service to Sport awards.

It has been an incredible year for sporting achievement and Essex has continued to break records across the country. We’ve won nine British Universities & Colleges (BUCS) league titles in Men’s Volleyball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Women’s Badminton, Men’s Volleyball, Mixed Golf, Men’s Rugby Union, Men’s Squash and Men’s Tennis. We also have two BUCS Cup winners with the Men’s Basketball 1st team winning the BUCS Trophy and our Men’s Squash 1st team taking the BUCS Conference Cup title.

If I can just take a moment to pick out individual successes, Harry Hughes took National Championship Gold as he achieved a new BUCS record in the Javelin, Matthew Thompson won a National Championship Silver in Skiing and Marian Stoykov won a National Championship Silver in Judo.

Our sports stars have helped us achieve 32nd place in the overall BUCS rankings and you’ve hit a record total of BUCS points and there is more success to celebrate. Our Men’s Basketball team has won National League Division 4, our Men’s Futsal 1st team reached the National Super 8’s, finishing in 3rd, and our Men’s Pool A Team finished 3rd in the BUCS National Championships.

Our sports clubs have also raised an incredible £15,000 for various charitable causes with our Pole Dance Club, Equestrian team and Rowing Club the top fundraisers this year.

Can I just pay tribute to you all one final time.

We are very proud of each and every one of you and recognise the impact and contribution that you make to the student experience at the University. Societies not only improve the lives of students who join them, by developing their interests, widening social networks, and helping them engage with the wider community, but there are also real gains in terms of employability. Your membership of clubs and societies helps you develop the skills, qualities and knowledge that employers value, and will help you to make a success of your life beyond University.

As we come towards the end of the academic year, I want to thank current presidents for your contribution, and wish new presidents all the best for next year.

May 3, 2017

Welcoming our new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Designate) – Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Designate) Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony

Professor Lorna Fox-O’Mahony has been appointed as our new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Designate). Here she tells us more about the role and about her priorities for the next strategic plan period.

Watch her video interview on our vimeo channel.

It is a privilege to be appointed to the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Designate) at Essex. When I first came to this University, I was struck by what it means to be a University for the real world. Our University’s commitments to improving people’s lives, to human rights and social justice, and to transformational education drew me to Essex, and I have been proud to work with colleagues in the last four years to seek out new ways to advance our mission.

My own academic mission is motivated to put people at the centre of property problems, especially people in positions of marginality and vulnerability; seeking out solutions that advance social justice through law and policy. I am proud that so much of what we do at Essex is focused on creating positive impacts for real people, and that our emphasis on fostering a curious, inquiring, critical and challenging ethos – powered by a research mind-set – equips our students with the power to make a difference in the real world.

Next strategic plan period, 2019-2025

This is an exciting moment for us, as we begin to look ahead to the next strategic plan period, 2019-2025. Under the current plan, the University has gone from strength to strength. We set ourselves some ambitious challenges: to achieve excellence in education and research, consistently, across all our departments, while growing our student numbers; to improve our financial sustainability while significantly growing our academic staff base and developing our campuses. And, with every fresh challenge that faces Higher Education, to seek out opportunities for the University of Essex to grow, to thrive and to advance our mission in research and in education.

Many of our successes have resulted from our commitment to building strong partnerships. Across the University, we have seen how seeding new collaborations and sharing good practices helps us to deliver on our ambitious goals. Working in partnership with our amazing Students’ Union, we have focused our energies on what really matters for our students: a transformational education experience that supports our students in earning good degrees, being prepared for the future world of work and getting ready to make a difference in the world around them. And beyond the University, we have built strong relationships with local, national and global partners who share our values and our commitments to transformational education and research that improves people’s lives.

Developing our mission into new areas

As we start to think about our next strategic plan, I am looking forward to talking with members across our community about how we can go forward to build on these achievements, to develop our mission into new areas, and to deepen our existing strengths. I am proud of the work that we have done already, from the renewed focus we have placed on critical thinking, skills, and employability for our students, to closing the gender pay gap. But we know there is a lot more that we can do, and that we need to do.

I can’t think of a time when the world has needed our Essex Spirit more. I feel very fortunate to have found my home in Essex, and to be on this mission with colleagues, students and supporters who share a vision and commitment to be the change we want to see in the world.