By Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester
Last month, our University launched a new initiative to change the face of British sports leadership.
Joined by representatives from Leicester City Football Club at the renowned King Power Stadium, the University of Leicester and Sporting Equals signed a strategic partnership to promote ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity in the UK, and address the lack of diversity among sports leaders.
The University has collaborated with Sporting Equals for more than a decade to research and promote the role of individuals from ethnically-diverse backgrounds in sport and sports leadership.
This is just one of the numerous ways that exemplifies the commitment of the University to make a demonstrable impact upon communities.
It is a principle enshrined in our new 10-year strategy that I launched in November on my second anniversary of arriving in Leicester. It sets the direction of the University for its second century.
A key part of the strategy speaks to our understanding of how universities like Leicester can be of benefit to their localities and serve as anchor institutions. This is not something new – it has been our role since our inception.
That is why I am proud that, as part of our civic commitment, the University sponsored the Diwali celebrations in the city and we are a supporter of the Business Awards, the Women in Business awards, the Education Awards, and much more, placing the University in a prominent position as an ally and as a friend to the city.
The strategy commits us to use our knowledge, research and resources to benefit the locality, the region and beyond; to tackle the big issues of the day and to make a wide social impact.
We commit ourselves to shaping policy and influencing decision making in order to improve the lives of the region and, critically, we will support and enable our community of staff, students, alumni, donors and partners to create a powerful network of change-makers.
Our strategy also commits us to world-changing research and world-class teaching as we continue a journey begun 100 years ago. We are unique in the UK – a university set up by the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in memory of those who had sacrificed in the First World War.
It is a proud legacy that the new strategy keeps alive in our second century. Education has the power to change lives – not only for those who study with us, but for the people beyond.
I am determined that we will harness our talent and our resources to be a partner and pivotal force for good in our region.
That we will be the University for Leicester and not simply of Leicester.