University of Chichester celebrates 180 years of teaching

THERE were celebrations across the University of Chichester this week as staff and students – new and old – honoured the 180-year anniversary of the higher education institution.

Since 1839, when it opened its doors as a teacher-training college, Chichester has championed the importance of education. Now, 180-years later, those principles remain a fundamental part of its community.

Students and staff joined 180 alumni and guests for a celebrating evening to mark a culmination of a year of events, which started off with the opening of the new £35million Tech Park by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Other highpoints of the year included a talk from Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, the recording of an episode of BBC Question Time, and a visit form Duchess of Richmond to watch the University’s dancers.

Professor Jane Longmore said: “This has been a fitting climax to a year of celebration of our 180th anniversary which began with a visit from the Duke and Duchess. We are still the only University based in West Sussex, just as, in 1839 we were the only institution of higher education in the county.

“We were established as a memorial to Bishop William Otter, Bishop of Chichester from 1836, who was a true visionary with a keen interest in the improvement of education and the promotion of social harmony.

“At Chichester, throughout our long history, we have always recognised the importance of each individual – people really matter to each other in their learning, teaching, research and enterprise, within the student experience and the staff working environment.”

Among the delegates at the event was former Students’ Union president Cee-Cee Douglas, who left her tenure in 2013 now works as a PE teacher in London. She said: “This place helped me achieve my dream of being a teacher.  A lot has changed since I left and, although the community and campus has grown, I still get the feeling that the students are always put first.”

The Right Reverend Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester was also present, and said: “This is a university which develops graduates who make a difference.”

He was joined by Professor Philip Robinson, the University’s Vice-Chancellor up until 2007. “It’s great to see the University remains as strong as ever in representing its community,” he added. “I can see the University being here for another 180-years at least.”

The University of Chichester can trace its heritage to the suffragette movement, during the decades where it specifically focused on training women as teachers, and still maintains a degree of purple in its academic dress code to reference to the movement.

Georgia Alston is a current student and degree apprentice who runs Bognor Regis’ award-winning Pinks ice cream company, when she is not studying at Chichester. She said: “I feel valued here as a student and as a woman, so it’s a privilege for me to be studying at a place which shares my ethos.”

The celebratory event was hosted in the University’s Chapel of the Ascension at its Bishop Otter Campus on 30 May, to mark an initiation event in 1839 which is the earliest point referenced in its 180-year history.

To find out more about the history and heritage of the University of Chichester visit www.chi.ac.uk/about-us.

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