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October 2000

Campus improvements set to continue

Over the past couple of years, the University has seen great changes in its physical environment through an extensive building programme. The start of the Autumn term sees the completion of some of the building projects, while design work on new projects moves rapidly forward. These projects form a key part of the University’s strategy to cater for a 20 per cent increase in student numbers by 2005 and to ensure it remains at the forefront of education and research provision. These improvements range from new teaching and research facilities to student accommodation, catering outlets and office space.

The past 12 months have seen the University commit more than £500,00 to the rationalisation of redundant laboratory space in the former Physics building. Former laboratories have been converted into a boardroom and offices for the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar and to enable the total relocation of the Law Department.

This month saw the handover of the third and final phase of the University’s South Courts accommodation. An additional 512 study bedrooms have been added enabling the University to accommodate half of its students on campus. At £9.5million this was the largest single construction contract ever commissioned by the University.

A design brief is currently being proposed for the new Student Street which will house the Students’ Union and associated welfare and support services in one main area instead of dispersed around the campus. Construction will commence at the end of this academic year. The space freed up by this will allow Departments to expand and see new state-of-the-art seminar rooms.

The catering facilities on campus have also undergone extensive changes. The new S X Express Café opened during May in Square 4 and last month the new Take 3 take away outlet and Café Vert opened. The former Square 3 Café has now become Food on 3.

Cafe Vert

The new Café Vert in Square 3

Academic departments across the University will benefit from a £2.5million office and teaching building to be completed by early 2002. This will mainly be used for the departments of History and Accounting, Finance and Management. The space vacated by these two Departments will be used by other academic disciplines. This month, the Building Sub Committee approved sketch design plans for the building and an application for planning permission will be made by the end of the year.

During the summer, a masterplan for the Sports Centre has been developed and work on the first phase, to support the expansion of Sports Science, will be undertaken next summer.

The second phase of the refurbishment of the research laboratories for the Department of Biological Sciences, which began last year, will also be completed shortly. In September 1999 a new suite of laboratories for microbiology research were opened as part of a £400,000 project jointly funded by the University and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Further grants from HEFCE have been obtained which will fund an extension to the Biological Sciences building. A second grant will see the conversion of a large part of the science workshop into a learning and resource centre equipped with video conferencing and data links. The Estate Management Section will begin design work on this project in conjunction with Information Systems Services later in the year.

More immediately the installation of two units of temporary offices, which was delayed by the petrol crisis, will be complete by the end of Week 1. Work to provide new accommodation for the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the John Tabor Laboratories is almost complete, and further conversion works in the Physics building to provide offices for the Business Development and Research Office is just commencing. In addition to these projects more than £500,000 of maintenance and refurbishment works in student residences was undertaken this summer.

The Director of Estate Management, Andrew Nightingale, said he was delighted that the residential projects had all been delivered on time and paid tribute to the efforts of contractors and staff of the Accommodation and Estate Management Sections.

Multi-million company launched

ilotron, the multi-million pound start-up company based at the University, was officially launched over the summer by Baroness Warwick, Chief Executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP). Baroness Warwick opened ilotron’s new £1million electronic and research centre based in the John Tabor Laboratories.

ilotron ilotron is the second and most successful spin-out company to emerge from the research excellence at the University. The campus location of the electronic and research centre will enable the company to maintain its close links with the University and, in particular, with the ESE Department where it is supporting two academic projects and a PhD student.

The ilotron team

The ilotron team pictured with Baroness Diana Warwich (fourth from right)

At the launch the Registrar, Dr Tony Rich, spoke about how important ilotron is to the development of the University. He said: ‘It gives physical embodiment to the progress we have made in developing our links with industry and in working with the commercial and industrial sector in our efforts to commercialise the application of University research.

‘Our aim is to encourage academic researchers to seek opportunities to bring their research closer to the market place. This process is supported by our Business Development and Regional Office, led by Bill Huston. The next phase of the University’s growing interaction with business and industry will see the development of a Research Park on the University campus providing the opportunity for companies such as ilotron to establish themselves.’

ilotron was set up in January this year as a result of the ground-breaking research carried out by telecommunications engineers in the Photonics Research Centre in the Department of Electronics Systems Engineering (ESE).It aims to launch the world’s first all optical core network router for telecommunications networks, a field set for rapid expansion as telecom operators gear up for heavy investment in optical circuits to meet demand from internet traffic. The first product to be developed by ilotron will be evaluated later this month with British Telecom at their Adastral Park Technology Centre which is designed to evaluate network performance of innovative optical products. 

 Third Latin American Month

The third annual Latin American month will be held between October and November. This year the focus will be Brazil, to commemorate the 500 years of Brazil’s discovery by the Portuguese Empire. The month is organised by the centre of Latin American Studies, the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art (UECLAA) and the Latin American Society.

Cristina Salgado (Brazil),
'Anjo' angel cast in bronze

'Ango' Angel cast in bronze from UECLAAAs in previous years, there will be a number of events going on including a Brazilian party in the Underground and a number of seminars which will cover topics such as slavery and citizenship in 19th century Brazil, and Gilberto Freyre and the English in Brazil. Speakers will include Dr Maria Lucia Pallares-Burke from the University of Sao Paulo and Hebe Mattos from the Universidade Fluminense.

UECLAA will be holding a special exhibition of its Brazilian holdings in the Albert Sloman Library. The exhibition will be accompanied by a one-day seminar hosted by the UECLAA. The seminar will be centred around Brazilian Avantgardes covering the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Guest speakers attending the seminar will include Oriana Badderley and Michael Asbury from Camberwell School of Art and artists Cristina Pape and Milton Machado from Brazil whose work is part of the UECLAA collection. A booklet featuring the selected works will be available.

Artist’s family help to launch exhibition

 The University’s Millennium exhibition, Constable and Wivenhoe Park: Reality and Vision, was officially launched last month by two descendants of the artist John Constable.

The great-great-great-grandson and three-year-old great-great-great-great-grandson of Constable, both of whom bear the name John Constable, attended a special preview of the exhibition.John Constable's great-great-grandson

They were joined by the Mayor and Mayoress of Colchester, friends and supporters of the University and representatives of the individuals and galleries who have donated valuable works of art to the exhibition.

The Rt Rev John Waine, Pro Chancellor and Chair of the University Council, opened the exhibition and remarked on its importance to the University and wider community.


John Constable- The artist's
great-great-great-great Grandson
- displays his own artistic talents.

He said: ‘This is a very momentous occasion in the life of the University and we are deeply indebted to all that have brought this exhibition together. To have this opportunity to see the centrepiece painting here in Wivenhoe Park speaks volumes.

‘Thousands of people will visit the exhibition including sixth form students, degree students in eighteenth century art, participants in family days with picnics and tours of the gallery as well as art lovers from far and wide.’

The launch of the exhibition attracted a great deal of media attention locally, nationally and internationally in various publications and on radio and television.

Election of Professor Sir Nigel Rodley to Human Rights Committee

Professor Sir Nigel Rodley (pictured below) has just been elected as an independent expert to the Human Rights Committee.nigelrodley.jpg (5378 bytes)

The Human Rights Committee was established by the United Nations (UN) to hear applications brought against states for violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - it is the international equivalent of the European Court of Human Rights.

Previous UK incumbents include Dame Rosalyn Higgins, now a judge on the International Court of Justice. Professor Rodley, currently UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, succeeds Lord Colville as the British member on the Committee.

Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain welcomed the election saying: ‘I am particularly pleased that Sir Nigel won the support of more states party than any other candidate. The UK attaches great importance to the work of the HRC, which needs independent, high calibre members, with extensive human rights and legal expertise.

‘I am sure the Committee will benefit greatly from Professor Rodley’s substantial experience as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Amnesty International’s Legal Adviser and as Professor of Law at Essex University’s Human Rights Centre.’

Sports Bursaries Scheme for Elite Athletes

The Sports Centre, in conjunction with Sports Fed and the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, will be launching a Sports Bursary Scheme this year. The demands on national and international athletes are ever increasing and the Scheme aims to assist such athletes in maintaining a balance between their academic and sporting careers, and assist the athlete to continue competing at the international level.

The athletes will receive a wide ranging package of support including financial support, sports science testing and access to sports facilities both on site and within the Borough. In addition each athlete will have a mentor to act as liason between their department, coach and National Governing Body, assisting them in maintaining a balanced lifestyle throughout their period of study.

It is hoped that the scheme as well as providing excellent support for athletes currently studying at the University, will also be a positive recruiter in attracting athletes of an international calibre to the University. Currently there are plans to tie in with local sports Clubs and offer a Sports Scholarship tier to the scheme.

If anyone would like further information about the scheme or is interested in applying, please contact Dan Tilley (Assistant Director of Sport):

Record number of students

At the time of going to press, the University looks set to register more students than ever before. Registrations in all categories -undergraduate and postgraduate, home and overseas - are likely to be up on previous years. However the intense competition for new Home and EU undergraduates, made worse by all universities being allowed at a late stage to increase intakes, means that the University’s ambitious expansion targets will not quite be met. Postgraduate acceptances are currently up by seven per cent however and increases in overseas student numbers (both undergraduate and postgraduate) are likely.

The successful recruitment season means that the University has had no difficulty in filling all places in South Courts 3 which was completed on time for students to move in at the start of the academic year.

  Edited by Jenny Grinter Pages maintained by Sarah Pratt
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