A year’s end perspective to our U.S-based alumni by Lesley Silvester, Chair University of Bristol Foundation.
The year’s end approaches, and typically drives an appraisal of the happenings of the past 12 months. In terms of the presence of the U.S. Foundation across America there is much to be happy about: first, the increase in financial support from the U.S.-based alumni community, and, equally important, the engagement of community members in alumni gatherings and the exchange of information between the University and its alumni not just in the U.S. but across the globe. A vital underpinning of such exchanges continues to be the desire of the University to both communicate Bristol’s strategic initiatives and, importantly, to openly discuss the key drivers of these initiatives.
In recent gatherings held by the Vice-Chancellor and his team, he discussed the strategic initiatives and challenges being focused on. In summary, they relate to increased diversity in the student body, internationalization, world-class research, campus redevelopment (with a huge focus on building community space), and the mental health well-being of students. These topics resonated with many of the alumni participating in the meetings; a number of us have long questioned why the University of Bristol of which we are proud has had a relatively low profile internationally. To me, what was particularly powerful in the Vice Chancellor’s discussions was the investment that the University is making in truly understanding the nature of its students’ mental well-being. Bristol is moving towards becoming a national leader in mental health research and remediation.
The relevance of these strategies and investments was additionally reinforced by four exchange students from Bristol, two of whom are studying at the University of California, Berkeley and two of whom are at Boston College. They shared some very interesting insights about their experiences and perspectives, which helped reinforce the path forward being articulated.
The Directors of the Foundation greatly appreciate those alumni who have become engaged with our efforts and those who are contributing to the University through the Foundation. Thank you! We would also like to thank the team at Bristol, under the leadership of Steve O’Connor, who have provided such terrific support of our aspirations in the U.S. to increase the impact of the Foundation.
This year, the US Foundation have funded two Fulbright scholars thanks to generosity from alumni in the US.
One of these is Samantha Berman, pictured left, who recently graduated from Tufts University, with a BA in Environmental Science and Biology. She will pursue an MSc in Experimental Psychology, working to improve psychological patient care for individuals with cleft lip and/or palate, under the leadership of the University of Bristol’s Cleft Collective and the Person Perception and Person Knowledge Lab (PPPKL).
Personally and on behalf of the Directors of the U. S. Foundation I send very best wishes for the holidays and 2019. We look forward to seeing you and welcoming you at future events.