Duncan Ivison, incoming President and Vice-Chancellor, reflects on his visit to our University

by | Apr 15, 2024 | President & Vice-Chancellor | 2 comments

It has been an exciting time for me since the announcement of my appointment as the incoming President and Vice-Chancellor to succeed the incomparable Nancy Rothwell.

Since January, I have been meeting with Nancy, the Senior Leadership Team, and others online. But nothing beats meeting people in person. And so, Di (my partner) and I were delighted to be able to visit Manchester last month.

It was a packed but hugely enjoyable agenda. My thanks for making the time to introduce me to your Faculties, Schools, cultural institutions, portfolios, and Professional Service teams. I attended a Board of Governors meeting, met with Nazir Afzal, Chancellor, the Students’ Union Exec Officers, a number of our generous donors, civic leaders, and visited the amazing research and teaching facilities at the University. We also had a chance to explore at least some of this wonderful city.

The visit reinforced my sense of what a special place The University of Manchester is, and how fortunate we are to be joining it. Many universities claim to be excellent at research and teaching and committed to social engagement. But few can claim to combine these commitments in a way that expresses a distinctive approach and identity in the way Manchester can. In almost every meeting I had – both formal and informal, on campus and off – colleagues expressed a deep passion for putting excellence and social responsibility at the heart of everything we do. It was also clear to me just how powerful the Manchester model of collaboration is, bringing together the universities, city, region, and our national and global partners in a myriad of innovative ways. Stopping and chatting to students as I travelled across campus was another highlight and I was struck by how curious and passionate each of them was, as we discussed everything from their favourite study spaces to their fascinating research projects.

Of course, the world never ceases to present us with new challenges. Many of you also pointed out areas where you felt we could improve, as well as some of the difficulties facing higher education in the UK. It’s important we continually reflect on what it means to be a university committed to social responsibility and excellence when we are faced with so many social, economic, political, technological, and moral issues today. I am looking forward to discussing these topics with you over the coming months.

But if there was a moment that epitomised for me at least one way in which Manchester is unique, it was a lovely event organized by Nancy at the John Rylands Library. Chris Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library, had kindly arranged a small display of some of the treasures of the Rylands collection. At one end of the table was a 14th century Ming Dynasty 1 kuan banknote, one of the oldest extant paper currencies in the world. At the other end, on a torn-off sheet of paper, were the hand-written lyrics by Ian Curtis for the epic Joy Division track, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (as it happens, one of my favourite songs of all time). Sitting with colleagues and civic leaders over dinner amongst these cultural gems, in one of the truly great university libraries in the world — a gift to the people of Manchester from Enriqueta Rylands in 1900 — was a special moment indeed. I am looking forward to many more when we’re back in July.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to connect via email or your favourite socials (you’ll find me on most of them).

Best wishes, D

Learn more about Professor Duncan Ivison’s appointment as next President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester.  


  1. Dr Kamal Qazi

    A great visit to the Faculty of Science & Engineering’s unique ‘Makerspace’ by Duncan where he engaged with our students.
    Industry engagement is critical to our success and it’s great to see that Duncan is on the same page!

    • Duncan Ivison

      Dear Kamal,
      It was terrific to meet you and the students from the Robotics Society in the Makerspace. I love how it’s on the ground floor of MECD, in the open, so everyone can see what is going on and be inspired. Really impressive to see how the space is used and learn more about how it brings together students, teaching staff and partners to work on exciting interdisciplinary projects. See you soon! D


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