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University celebrates its first century

Press release issued: 9 January 2009

The University is a hundred years old this year and today unveils the celebrations it has planned for 2009.

The University is a hundred years old this year and is hoping the public will join in the celebrations alongside staff and students.


King Edward VII gave the institution the power to award degrees in 1909. A century later, the University is looking back to earlier times, celebrating the international reputation it now has and contemplating an even brighter future.


Among the projects that should appeal equally to people inside and outside the University is a centenary garden next to the tower of the Wills Memorial Building. Due to be opened to students, staff and the public on 8 May, the specially designed garden will be an elegant retreat from the busy city.


Up the hill in Royal Fort Gardens, the University plans to install an intriguing and important work by a leading European artist. This, too, will be available for the public to enjoy.


Throughout the year, there will be free public lectures on major topics ranging from economics and the environment to politics and poverty. The distinguished list of speakers includes naturalist Sir David Attenborough, film producer Lord David Puttnam and Kate Gilmore of Amnesty International.


The University has already published a major, 300-page book called 100, with contributions from 59 authors including Alice Roberts, presenter of Coast and Don’t Die Young; Harry Patch, the last-surviving Tommy; actor Tim Pigott-Smith; rugby player Josh Lewsey; chef Heston Blumenthal; and children’s author Julia Donaldson. Later in the year, a short history of the University will also be published.


During 2009 there will be exhibitions on topics ranging from the architecture of the University, to photographs of China, to the University’s archive of Penguin books and materials. There will also be a wide-ranging programme of music and sporting events.


A dedicated centenary website contains information about all the celebrations, plus a timeline that charts key moments from the past 100 years, a new film that captures the special character of the University, and case studies that highlight the wide range of work the University does with local communities.


Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor David Clarke, who has led the preparations to mark the centenary, said:

‘We hope there will be much for local people to enjoy. The University may be a global player these days, but it remains part of the city from which it grew and is very proud to be so.’

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, added:

‘So much has been achieved at the University over our first 100 years. We have earned a formidable reputation for academic excellence and have played a key role in transforming certain areas of knowledge and countless thousands of lives. But we are determined to reach even higher; hence our centenary slogan, “Great past, greater future”.
‘The centenary is a perfect time to celebrate and we are embarking on an imaginative range of projects to make sure 2009 is truly memorable. It will be a busy year that will leave a beneficial legacy and become part of Bristol's colourful story.’

Further information

Please contact Dara O'Hare for further information.
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