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On September 13th, the University will be hosting the Grand Alumni Dinner to commemorate Lancaster’s 50th Anniversary. While one of several events taking place throughout the university’s 50th year, this event is considered the flagship alumni event of the year. The event will be hosted in the Great Hall by Lancaster’s Chancellor, Sir Christian Bonington, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith.
The event is open to all alumni, with reports indicating that people from all graduating decades have signed up to take part in the event. In addition, it is believed that alumni will be coming from all over the world to attend the event, with some graduates coming from as far as Australia and New Zealand. The confirmed alumni also come from a range of professions, from academics and civil servants to scientists and engineers. Some of the returning alumni work for BAE Systems, the BBC and Shell, while some of those who continued with academia are currently working for the universities of Warwick, Durham and St. Andrews. Many of the University’s first graduates from 1967 will be attending.
“It’s really a chance to bring together alumni to celebrate the 50th, with a particular focus on the earliest cohorts,” Nick Fragel, Director of Alumni, Development and Events said. The graduates from 1967 have been sent special invitational letters asking them to attend the event. Like any other alumni event, it aims to reinforce the bonds which exist between Lancaster and its international network of graduates,” Fragel told SCAN. “Apart from celebrating the anniversary, it also provides us the chance to reengage with our alumni, brief them on news and future objectives, encourage them to engage with University life, and give them an opportunity to visit a campus that has been transformed since their time here. “And, of course, for the earliest cohorts, campus life only made up a fraction of their experience, with lessons taught in makeshift facilities in the city of Lancaster.”
Alongside the three course dinner, it is believed that the evening will feature some live music, provided by ensembles made up of current Lancaster students. A piece by Chris Osborn – who conducted several different musical ensembles at the 2014 Campus Festival, as well as the Roses opening ceremony – is believed to have been commissioned for this event.
“There’s been a huge amount of organisation and effort gone into it,” VP (Union Development), Laurence Pullan, who sits on the University’s committee for the Grand Alumni Dinner, told SCAN. “It’s a massive project to undertake: you have to think of the amount of alumni the university has, as well as thinking about current students; it’s about pleasing both parties in a spectacular fashion. The Grand Alumni Dinner looks very impressive indeed.”
“It is important that every alumnus of the University still feels connected and a part of what the University does,” Pullan continued, when asked why he thought alumni were so significant in Lancaster’s 50th year.
Besides providing music for the evening, Pullan is expecting that current Lancaster students will be further involved in the Grand Alumni Dinner. “There is a focus at trying to get current student input where possible,” he said. “The event can only hold around 400 people anyway, so they are trying to balance the fact that it is an alumni dinner with showcasing what current students are doing at Lancaster. I think they will also be asking more student groups to contribute to the dinner somehow.”
In addition, Pullan is optimistic that some well-known alumni will be attending the event. “The 50th year is such a big deal that I would hope some distinguished alumni will come,” he told SCAN, “and being from Pendle College I would hope my fellow Pendle member James May will come along.”