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University of Ulster Chancellor Dr James Nesbitt today came face to face with the next generation of digital movie animators on the second stop of his tour of the University's campuses.

Dr Nesbitt, who is one of the stars of Peter Jackson's big screen adaptations of 'The Hobbit', dropped into the digital animation studio in the Belfast campus where Professor Greg Maguire and Conann Fitzpatrick have been passing on their expertise to students in the School of Art and Design.

Professor Maguire is an accomplished film industry figure, having worked on computer generated imagery (CGI) for James Cameron's blockbuster 'Avatar' and other Hollywood movies such as 'Terminator: Salvation' and 'Happy Feet'.

Conann Fitzpatrick has also had a stellar career, working on a number of animated feature films like 'Thumbelina', 'The Prince of Egypt' and 'The Road To El Dorado'.

Dr Nesbitt said: "The last two years I have spent in New Zealand working with Peter Jackson on 'The Hobbit' movies have given me a real insight into how CGI has radically transformed cinema.

"Having worked on 'The Hobbit', I have to say it is amazing that students in the University's Belfast campus are benefitting from the wealth of knowledge and expertise that Professor Maguire and Mr Fitzpatrick have amassed.

"With this kind of facility, it is not all that surprising that the first crop of graduates are in demand and it really bodes well for the future of Northern Ireland's burgeoning film industry."

The Chancellor of the University also had the opportunity to meet students and staff in the School of Architecture.

He also attended a lunchtime event in The Academy Restaurant where he was updated on the University's plan to relocate the bulk of its activity in Jordanstown to a new £250 million Belfast city campus.

Dr Nesbitt said: "The plans the University has submitted for the campus are visionary and will contribute significantly to the development of a more confident, more vibrant, forward and outward looking Belfast.

"What could be better for the development of this city and this region than a university, with all its global connections, coming into the heart of Belfast, offering full and part-time educational opportunities to people of all backgrounds and access to world class research?

"The iconic campus design, with its open public access, is a bold statement to the people of Belfast and this region that this is their campus, just as much as it belongs to the students and staff and they have a role to play in its success.

"And while providing a first class 21st century educational experience is the principal driver, it is genuinely exciting to think of the many regeneration and entrepreneurial opportunities this campus could open up in a part of Belfast whose potential is now only being realised.

"It is also heartening that the University remains committed to the development of its sports facilities in Jordanstown. The recent success of Olympians and Paralympians, European Golf professionals, GAA and rugby players who use the £13 million High Performance Centre for training is a testament to what investing in top quality sports facilities can achieve."

The Chancellor also visited the Jordanstown campus earlier today where he was briefed on the University's pioneering Connected Health research and the work of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies.

After his visit to the Belfast campus, he will travel to the Magee campus to take part in a question and answer session with Drama and Media Studies students in the Foyle Arts Centre, before heading to the Coleraine campus to help mark the 35th anniversary of the Riverside Theatre with an 'In Conversation' event.

Dr Nesbitt will tomorrow visit the University’s Centre for Molecular Biomedical Sciences in Coleraine and attend a nursing awards ceremony on the campus.


For further information contact: Sinead Johnson, Press Office, University of Ulster, 02890366386or07891846482

Photographs from the University Chancellor’s visit can be accessed at:

Rolling coverage of the University Chancellor’s tour of the four campuses will be on Twitter at #nesbitt.

Notes to Editors

1.Dr James Nesbitt was installed as the Chancellor of the University of Ulster at a ceremony in June 2010.

2.In July 2003, he was awarded a DLitt Honorary Doctorate for services to drama by the University.

3.The Chancellor has an important role within the University, acting as a figurehead and a role model for the various constituencies the University serves.

4.The Chancellor presides over meetings of the University Court and can preside over meetings of Council.

5.Under the University’s Charter, the Chancellor has the power to confer Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates and other academic distinctions at graduation ceremonies.

6.Dr Nesbitt has followed in the footsteps of four Chancellors of the University – the Duke of Abercorn, Lord Grey of Naunton, the Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger and former City of London Lord Mayor, Sir Richard Nichols.

7.He is the first Chancellor of the University to have been born in Northern Ireland and to have studied at Ulster.

8.Dr James Nesbitt has carved out a successful movie and television career, appearing in the hit TV shows ‘Monroe’ and ‘Cold Feet’ for ITV, ‘Murphy’s Law’, ‘Occupation’ and ‘Jekyll’ for the BBC. He has also appeared on the big screen in Paul Greengrass’s ‘Bloody Sunday’, Ralph Fiennes’ ‘Coriolanus’ Peter Chelsom’s ‘Hear My Song’, Woody Allen’s ‘Match Point’, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s ‘Five Minutes of Heaven’, Emilio Estevez’s ‘The Way’ and Peter Jackson’s upcoming movie adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’.