Aberystwyth University marked its 149th anniversary on Friday 15 October with the annual Founders’ Day procession from Old College to kick the bar at the north end of the Promenade.
The annual event commemorates the day when 26 students were welcomed to the Old College, a converted hotel, by Principal Thomas Charles Edwards in October 1872.
In keeping with tradition, the procession was led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure, and featured student representatives, members of staff and elected representatives and members from the local community.
With the Old College closed for renovation, this year’s Founders’ Day reception was held in the Medrus conference facilities on the Penglais campus, and in line with the University’s COVID safety measures.
This year’s guest speaker was The Right Hon Liz Saville-Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd. Originally from Eltham in London, Liz is an alumna of Aberystwyth University having graduated in Celtic Studies in 1987 and learnt Welsh during her time as a student here.
Speaking at the reception, she said: “It’s great to be back here in Aberystwyth, and to be invited to mark such an important date in the University’s calendar.
“It gives me great pleasure to see the University’s commitment to Wales as a nation progressively confident among the nations of the world. The students who travel here from far and wide, as I did myself, come to Aberystwyth to be transformed. This generation has experienced disruption, the like of which we never had to endure, and the experience they have gained here will be critical for both their welfare and their careers. The knowledge and skills offered to them by this University will be the tools with which they fashion a future for humanity in our fragile environment. And for this, I think our founders who be proud.”
Professor Elizabeth Treasure said: “It was a delight to be able to host our Founders Day celebration this year. The past 18 months have been most challenging for everyone and it was wonderful to be able to meet representatives from the town and the wider community in person and to thank them for all their support during the pandemic. The history of the University is one of people from all walks of life coming together to realise a vision, that is today providing one the best student experiences in the whole of UK. And it is this close cooperation and collaboration between the University, local organisations, health providers and the wider community that has sustained us during this difficult time. It has enabled us here at the University to continue to provide an excellent learning experience for our students, in spite of the restrictions that have been in place.”
Founders’ Day 2022 will form part of the University’s year-long programme of events and activities to celebrate its 150th anniversary, an important milestone the University wishes to share with as many of its students, staff, local community members, alumni and friends around the world. The year will also mark a special 130th anniversary for the Old Students’ Association.
Despite not being able to celebrate this year’s event in the Old College, the project to transform this iconic and much loved building into a vibrant centre for learning, culture and enterprise and a major catalyst for the development of Aberystwyth is making strong progress.
The Old College was originally developed as a hotel by railway contractor Thomas Savin. Following its aquisition as an unfinished project in 1867, it was adapted as the home of the University in time for its opening in October 1872.
Amongst the subjects offered on the curriculum at the time were Chemistry, Comparative Philology, English Language and Literature, French Language and Literature, Geography, German, Greek, Hebrew (also Arabic, Syrian, Sanskrit, Turkishand Persian), History, Italian, Latin, Logic and Philosophy, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Astronomy.
From the very beginning, philanthropy played a significant role in the University’s development. In 1875 chapels throughout Wales declared the last Sunday in October to be University Sunday. Chapel collections were devoted to the University with over 70,000 people contributing, and raising £3,100.
To learn more about the history of Aberystwyth University visit History of Aberystwyth University.