The Vice-Chancellor was again in the company of the First and Deputy First Ministers and the Enterprise, Trade and
Investment Minister Arlene Foster during a visit to the United Arab Emirates where they were briefed on
the work the Ulster Sports Academy has undertaken with the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE in developing new standards in motor racing.
Head of the School of Media, Film and Journalism and Tim Brundle, Director of the Office of Innovation, addressed the Assembly's Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee on the importance of investment in the creative industries.
The Ulster Sports Academy's PEACE III funded project to tackle sectarian and racist attitudes through sport in conjunction with Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Limavady, Larne and Moyle Councils was presented by Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Caral ni Chuilin MLA with a prestigious Inspire Mark award. The Minister also visited the Belfast campus where she launched the latest collection of documents to be added to Ulster’s Conflict Archive on the INternet (CAIN). Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry MLA was on the Jordanstown campus where he visited the Science Fair and announced a £700,000 extension for the University's Step-Up initiative in schools.
The arrival of Paralympics Games fencers from England, Scotland, Wales, Hungary and Russia to the High Performance Centre in Jordanstown was welcomed by the Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Caral ni Chuilin MLA. The former US Consul to Northern Ireland, Barbara Stevenson, now the Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in London, was on the Belfast campus where she addressed the 4th International Conference on Sport, Race and Ethnicity.
For the third successive year, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Communication and Development), Professor Alastair Adair joined the Media and Corporate Relations team at the Sinn Fein are fheis, which was held for the first time in Killarney in Co Kerry. The are fheis provided an opportunity for the University to lobby Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA, Education Minister John O'Dowd MLA, Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Caral ni Chuilin MLA, Health Committee chair Sue Ramsey MLA, Social Development Committee chair Alex Maskey MLA, South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff, Martina Anderson MEP, West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy, Dublin Central TD Mary Lou McDonald and a range of councillors.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster MLA visited the Belfast campus to open a major conference focusing on engineering and manufacturing excellence in August. The Minister gave a tour d’horizon of the current state of the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland, drawing particular attention to achievements in the aerospace sector and transport manufacturing. Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy MLA attended along with Professor Alastair Adair, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Development), the 2012 Irish Transport Research Network (ITRN) conference in Jordanstown. The conferment of an Honorary Doctor of Laws on leading Irish-American businessman and ardent supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process, William ‘Bill’ Flynn saw the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA join those on the Magee campus who came to pay tribute to the former chairman of Mutual of America.
As thoughts turned to the UK City of Culture, Professor Brandon Hamber of INCORE and Rotary International announced plans for a Rotary Global Peace Forum which is expected to draw major international speakers to Derry~Londonderry in 2013.
Research on public attitudes to the peace walls by Dr Jonny Byrne and Dr Cathy Gormley-Heenan of the University's Institute for Research in Social Sciences and Professor Gillian Robinson of INCORE, for the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister attracted significant political and media comment.
The Magee campus hosted the event marking the Centenary of former US House of Representatives' Speaker Thomas P O'Neill's birth and Professor John Hume's 75th birthday. The event, which also highlighted the University's plan for a new John Hume and Thomas P O'Neill Chair in Peace Studies at Magee, was addressed by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP and MLA, US Consul General Gregory Burton, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s representative Niall Burgess, the Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell and the former Irish Ambassador to the US, Dr Sean Donlon and was hosted by Ulster Honorary Doctor and RTE presenter Miriam O'Callaghan with music from Ulster Honorary Doctor, Phil Coulter.
For the fourth successive year, the University of Ulster attended the Ulster Unionist Party's annual conference. Professor Deirdre Heenan, The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Communication) and Professor Alastair Adair, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Development), joined the Unversity's Media and Corporate Relations team at the conference in Belfast's Titanic Building which provided them with the opportunity to lobby UUP leader Mike Nesbitt MLA, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy MLA, DEL Committee chair Basil McCrea MLA, Sandra Overend MLA, John McCallister MLA, Tom Elliott MLA, Roy Beggs MLA, Robin Swann MLA, Leslie Cree MLA, Jim Nicholson MEP, Lord Empey and a range of councillors on a range of issues.
Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry MLA joined employers and students to hear details about the innovative Professional Experience Programme at the Belfast campus in October. Lord Kerr, the former Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland, spoke to an audience of law students and representatives of the local legal profession at a guest lecture hosted by the Graduate School of Professional Legal Education Magee campus. A conference in Belfast on housing policy, organised by the School of the Built Environment, was attended by the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland MLA who addressed the controversial issue of welfare reform.
The Director of the Engineering Research Institute, Professor Jim McLaughlin created a political stir at Stormont when he told an audience of MLAs, academics and public administrators that red tape and a lack of investment could result in Northern Ireland research and development falling behind other nations. He also
joined Health Minister Edwin Poots MLA in Massachusetts for the signing ceremony marking a groundbreaking strategic alliance between Ulster and the University of Massachusetts Lowell to bring pioneering medical research technologies faster into the marketplace.
The Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD marked at an event in Dublin the handing over to the CAIN archive of a range of digitised Irish Government documents relating to the years leading up to Northern Ireland's Troubles.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood MLA was the guest speaker at an Ulster Business School conference in Belfast on civic leadership and community planning. Education Minister John O'Dowd MLA chose the Belfast campus to launch the Northern Ireland Languages Strategy, Languages for the Future, with the co-authors Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin and Professor John Gillespie from the Faculty of the Arts and QUB Professor David Johnston.
Fine Gael MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly attended the setting up in Armagh of a cross–border team of researchers from the University of Ulster, UCD, DCU, Limerick, Cork Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology in Tralee, to investigate why so many people in Ireland give up sport and physical activity as they get older.
The Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Victor Robinson joined the Head of Sports Services at the University, Dr Nigel Dobson for the announcement that Ireland’s oldest all-island senior soccer competition, the Collingwood Cup, will be held at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus in February 2013.
As the University continued to work throughout the year with Northern Ireland Executive ministers, senior civil servants and Belfast City Council officials on preparations for the Belfast city campus, the University's Greater Belfast Development team led by Professor Alastair Adair also undertook briefings of MLAs in East Antrim and councillors in Newtownabbey and Carrickefergus in the build-up to the launch of the University's Masterplan for the Jordanstown campus.
For the fourth successive year, the University was represented at the SDLP and DUP conferences, with Professor Deirdre Heenan and Professor Alastair Adair again joining the Media and Corporate Relations team.
At the SDLP conference in Armagh, the team had the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to the University with the party leader and South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell, Environment Minister Alex Attwood MLA, DETI Committee chair Patsy McGlone MLA, deputy leader Dolores Kelly MLA, Conall McDevitt MLA, Alban Maginness MLA, Joe Byrne MLA, Pat Ramsey MLA, Colum Eastwood MLA, Mark H Durkan MLA, Foyle MP Mark Durkan, South Down MP Margaret Ritchie and a range of councillors.
At the DUP conference in Castlereagh, the University had the chance to lobby First Minister Peter Robinson MLA, DUP deputy leader and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, Finance and Personnel Minister Sammy Wilson MP, MLA, Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster MLA, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland MLA, Health Minister Edwin Poots MLA, OFMDFM Junior Minister Jonathan Bell MLA, Assembly DE Committee chair Mervyn Storey MLA, Department of Justice Committee chair Paul Givan MLA, Jim Wells MLA, Paula Bradley MLA, Jonathan Craig MLA, Lord Morrow MLA, Simon Hamilton MLA, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, Strangford MP Jim Shannon, Upper Bann MP David Simpson, Diane Dodds MEP, Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson, Craigavon mayor Carla Lockhart and other councillors from across Northern Ireland.
In December, The final visit of University of Ulster Honorary Doctor Hillary Rodham Clinton to Belfast as US Secretary of State paved the way for another leading US dignitary to visit the Belfast campus. President Barack Obama's Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Ambassador Melanne Verveer was welcomed to the by Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Development) Professor Alastair Adair and Professor Monica McWilliams of the Transitional Justice Institute.
Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland MLA launched a report produced jointly with the Investment Property Bank on the performance of the commercial property market in Northern Ireland that revealed evidence of good and stable returns despite the economic downturn.