Being Chancellor at The University of Manchester is one of the highlights of my life. It must be similar for students as they graduate towards or from this great institution. I was voted for by the people and therefore I’d like to share some feedback from the people. Here are two emails received by The Presidents office just a few weeks ago. The first is from a member of staff at The University of Manchester and the second is from the parent of a student. I have received permissions from all three.
From: Rachel Clements – Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance
Sent: 21 July 2016 17:13
Subject: Graduation 2016 – message for Nancy and Lemn
Dear Prof Dame Nancy (and other members of the senior management),
On Tuesday, I attended the graduation ceremony for Drama, AHVS and Music. I’ve been to graduation every year since I was appointed four years ago; I think it’s really important that we show our support for our students there and that we applaud their achievements. And I just wanted to tell you what I saw. As the students walked up onto the stage, Lemn treated every single one of them with enthusiasm, celebration and courtesy. It’s hard, I think, to turn that handshake into something special – the students are often nervous; there are a lot of them; the moment passes very quickly. So as the ceremony went on, I was more and more impressed and moved by the way Lemn presided over the ceremony: it was abundantly clear that all the students mattered to him and that they all mattered equally.
After the ceremony, all the students who I spoke to were evidently excited to have met Lemn (I think he is particularly important to students in creative subjects) and touched by how he’d treated them. They’d noticed that he’d spoken to all of them and that he’d managed to really hold those brief moments on stage, marking each one as significant and precious. He gave each of them his focus and it made them buzz, beautifully.
When we were asked to vote for a new Chancellor, I voted for Lemn because I think he’s an extraordinary public figure who stands for and with a lot of things that I care about in HE and beyond. On Tuesday, though, I saw something well beyond that. Lemn took that ceremonial function and moment and made it personal, showing each student that their own journey and degree is important and worth respect and celebration. Being able to do that is a really rare talent and, since I’m still thinking about it several days later, I thought I’d pass it on to you rather than let it just vanish into the ether! I was particularly proud to be a part of the university on Tuesday – so, thankyou.
This second email is from a parent replicated by kind permission of both parent and daughter.
From: Jane Appleton
Sent: 31 July 2016 23:03
Subject: Graduation ceremony
I had the privilege of attending our daughter’s graduation BA (Hons).
I wanted to thank you for the way you conducted the ceremony and how you showed interest in each of the students individually as they came up to shake your hand before receiving their degree certificates. I was really inspired by what you said to the students and guests and it was a very special time.
I will be honest I did not know about you until that day and have read your biography and the adversity you encountered as a young person. We adopted our daughter when she was ten. She too had had a difficult start in life and it is true what you said with the opportunities available at Manchester the young people can go on to achieve their dreams.
Our daughter will be going to Cambridge in September to do her PGCE in teacher training so she can teach the subject she loves. The support given to her whilst at Manchester i.e. the £1,000 bursary for the three years because she had been in care ,the student support she received and her tutors each contributed to his being able to successfully complete the course.
So thank you for your inspiration.
With best wishes