Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lisa Roberts

This is my first Alumni Magazine since becoming Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter and I am delighted to share it with you.

I hope that you are all staying safe and well at this difficult time. It has been such a tough 12 months with so many challenges to overcome in all aspects of our lives.

When I joined Exeter last September, I did not think I would be in post for six months and still not have met any of you in person. I hope that many of you were able to join our virtual update in the New Year; I will host another session in the summer to update you on our strategy development plans. In addition, until we are able to meet face to face, I hope to hold some smaller virtual alumni events.

Those of you who have heard me speak already will know that one of the key reasons that I joined Exeter was the people. In my visits to campus I came away with a real sense of commitment to quality, making a difference, and a will to join me on the journey to truly cement Exeter as a leading global university. The sense of community, across our students, staff, alumni and stakeholders is unrivalled and I am very proud to have inherited such a strong university.

The next five to ten years are going to be critical in our journey, building on our strengths and our remarkable growth and transformation over the past decade. I believe there is huge potential to take that next big leap to further position Exeter as a leading Russell Group university on the world stage. Through our new strategy, I plan to create a renewed sense of ambition, confidence, connectedness and agility that will firmly position us as an internationally recognised, top 10 UK University in everything that we do.

Our alumni community will continue to play a key role in the future success of our university and having had the chance to meet some of you virtually, I know that there is much knowledge and expertise for me to draw on as I develop the 2030 strategy. Over the coming months there will be more opportunities to share your experiences and ambitions and I would like to encourage as many of you to join me in this discussion as possible.

Of course, my immediate priority has been to plan and steer our way effectively through the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that the university comes through it in a strong position for the future. We have pivoted to blended and online learning as circumstances have changed, run online exams, established a mass testing facility for staff and students, made our campuses COVID secure, invested in technology and expanded our mental health and wellbeing services. If the way our community has dealt with this crisis is anything to go by, I truly believe that we can successfully tackle any future challenges that come our way! I am so proud of the way that everyone – our staff, students, alumni and other partners – have come together and supported each other.

We will get through these tough times as one community and that is also how we will build a bold and ambitious future for the university. Our motto at the University of Exeter is ‘We Follow the Light’, and if you have not seen it yet I urge you to watch the brilliant Amanda Gorman who at 22 years old illuminated January’s USA Presidential Inauguration with her poem. I leave you with her brilliant closing words: “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”