Aberystwyth University celebrates Founders’ Day

Founders' Day 2016 in the Old College

Founders' Day 2016 in the Old College

14 October 2016

Friday 14 October 2016 marks another milestone for Aberystwyth University as it celebrates its illustrious past by recognising the achievements of its founders.

Bringing together representatives from the University and local community in the Old College, Founders’ Day reflect the ethos behind the original celebrations held in the building 144 years ago in October 1872.

Founders’ Day is an opportunity to commemorate how the University has been making its mark in the world since the 1850s, when a small group of patriotic scholars led by London Welshman Hugh Owen raised enough money through public and private subscription to establish the first college of university status in Wales. 

While the Old College was originally proposed as a hotel by railway contractor Thomas Savin, it was purchased by the Welsh University committee in 1867 for £10,000 - a fraction of the amount it had cost to build. The first 26 students arrived in October 1872.

Professor John Grattan, Acting Vice-Chancellor, says: “The establishment of Aberystwyth University is a great story that reflects a wonderful vision and one that is borne out of the determination and ambition of a small group of people.

“Those strong local foundations have enabled us to develop significantly as an institution that now works on a global stage with a growing community of over 60,000 alumni. We have never forgotten our roots, however and as a University we are committed to working closely with the local community and to celebrate our shared heritage.”

“Our recent strong showing in the National Student Survey and the Good University Guide demonstrates the importance of our location and our community in addition to the high standard of teaching we offer students who choose to learn and live in Aber’s exceptional environment.

Ceredigion MP Mark Williams and a former Aberystwyth alumnus will be guest speaker at the event and he said: “This occasion is a time to reflect on the origins of this University and the importance of integration between the institution and the town of Aberystwyth. This University has always punched above its weight and continues to do so as it moves forwards with great optimism to meet the challenges facing the higher education sector, the needs of the economy and the its role in the locality.”

As part of the celebrations, students, staff and members of the public are invited to join free guided tours to explore the Old College which will be held every hour between 11am-3pm.

The Community Foundation in Wales has also chosen to hold a meeting in Aberystwyth on Founders’ Day with students who are receiving funding towards their studies from the organisation’s donors.

Foundation Chief Executive Liza Kellett said: “We’re delighted to be meeting with the students whose studies we are supporting with scholarships at Aber. It’s important we understand what their needs and concerns are, and we’re looking forward to learning more about their understanding and experience of philanthropy.  As the ‘place for philanthropy in Wales’ it’s great to be linking with Aberystwyth University’s celebrations which also acknowledge the philanthropic founding of this great institution.” 

Louise Jagger, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University said: “We are delighted to be honouring and celebrating the contribution of our Founders who showed such drive and ambition, and who still inspire today. It is fitting that as staff, students, former students and members of the local community we gather here together today in the birthplace of higher education in the town. Old College is a much-loved, iconic building with an international reputation and we look forward now to developing our vision to bring New Life for Old College further in the coming months and years.”

The inaugural Professor David Trotter Memorial Lecture will be held in the Old Hall of the Old College at 6pm on Founders’ Day. The guest speaker will be Professor Dr Frankwalt Möhre of Heidelberg University, who’s a former Director of the DEAF research institute (Etymological Dictionary of Old French). The title of his talk will be: "The easy yoke of strict science" and the event is open to the public.

Staff and students at the Aberystwyth University’s campus in Mauritius will also hold a Founders’ event on the first day of their academic term on Monday 17 October.

A further Founders’ event will be held on Thursday 3 November at the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay. Sponsored by Assembly Presiding Officer and Ceredigion AM Elin Jones, the guest speaker will be former alumnus and First Minister for Wales Carwyn Jones AM.