De Montfort University's golden year
It is an exciting time for De Montfort University. Plans have this week been announced for a major redevelopment of the campus which will create a new waterfront home for the Faculty of Art, Design and Humanities, a landscaped outdoor social area in the centre of the campus and an expansion to student services, among other things.
The university also announced yesterday that Prince Edward would be visiting in January to officially open the university's new sports centre, which has the rather unwieldy name of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre.
Securing a member of the royal family for the opening is a bit of a coup, particularly as it is the second royal visit to the university in the space of 10 months.
The first, of course, was part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK, and included a memorable Leicester debut by the Duchess of Cambridge whose appearance was enthusiastically greeted by huge crowds.
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Prince Edward will also be visiting the university's Square Mile project. The idea of this programme is to put the expertise and resources available at the university back into the community. Staff and students work with local residents in a square mile area near the campus on initiatives ranging from learning new skills to finding jobs and improving health.
The project has deservedly won national recognition and led to the vice-chancellor, Professor Dominic Shellard, being named as one of "Britain's new radicals" in The Observer newspaper earlier this year.
Leicestershire is fortunate to have three excellent universities.
Loughborough is, of course, at the forefront of sports science, while the University of Leicester excels in many areas, among them astrophysics, genetics and archaeology – including the headline-grabbing discovery of what may be the remains of King Richard III.
All of this helps to raise the profile of our city and county, attract top researchers, experts and associated businesses and, of course, lots of students, who play a vital role in this area's economic and cultural life.
So, we are delighted to see De Montfort University's new plans and wish it every success with all its projects and its royal visit.