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Old Students' Association AGM

Old Students' Association AGM

Saturday 24th June 2023 10.30 am

Medrus Conference Suite – Penglais Campus Agenda

1. Welcome

2. President’s Report

3. Secretary's Report and update on the Constitution

4. Treasurer’s Report

5. Election of Officers

At this AGM all officer posts are open for election, elections having been deferred during the pandemic. The officers are a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Treasurer, a Secretary, a Communications Manager, and an archivist.

In addition up to six members may be elected by members to join the committee of the association.

Officers and elected members willing to stand for election or re-election are:

President Lauren Marks

Vice President Graham Colley

Vice President and Communications Julie Finch

Secretary Robert Stansfield

Treasurer Lindsay Whelan

Archivist Julie Archer

Elected Committee Members Huw Davies

Steve Lawrence

Judith Yeadon


2022 AGM

The 2022 AGM was held online on 28th July 2022. The majority of the meeting was taken up with a very informative update from the Vice-Chancellor who was warmly thanked the President for taking the time to speak with us.

As reunion had been postponed to 2023 the committee had proposed all members remain in post until a physical meeting could be held as part of the 150th celebrations. This was agreed by the members joining the meeting.

The President Lauren Marks delivered her President’s statement which is set out below. The secretary and treasurer confirmed the association continued to be in a strong financial position and the addition of a website and shop had increased the recruitment of members.

Lauren concluded the abbreviated meeting by thanking those present and hoping we would all be able to meet in 2023 for the first reunion in a number of years.

* * *

OSA President’s Report

It has been a real pleasure to have got stuck into my term as OSA President since our last AGM in 2021, which was one of many events that we had to hold virtually due to the pandemic. It’s clear that whilst we are beginning to return to “the new normal”, that it is still not always possible or practical to come together in person in the current climate, and we have now embraced the hybrid way of working which has enabled us to hold events and meetings and stay connected with others over the past couple of years.

I’d like to start by paying a huge thank you to the OSA Officers and General Committee members who have continued to work hard to support the operation of the OSA, especially those who have represented the OSA at key occasions. I’d also like to acknowledge the dedication and flexibility of the OSA Branches who have continued to run online programmes, but also moving back towards holding regular events, trips and coming together in their local areas. I’m very much looking forward to joining the Cardiff Branch for a talk as part of their schedule at the beginning of 2023!

I’ve continued to ensure the strong links between the OSA the University are maintained through my regular meetings, and these have particularly focused on the milestone anniversaries of the OSA’s 130th and University’s 150th, as part of which we will be holding a special (and first in a few years!) Reunion Weekend during June 2023. The OSA will work closely with the University’s DARO department to ensure an excellent weekend, with a bespoke Working Group being established to focus on the exciting arrangements, after taking the difficult decision to postpone the Reunion Weekend in 2022. DARO have undergone several staffing changes and challenges this year, and I’d like to thank them for their support for the OSA alongside managing their wider priorities.

I have continued the long-standing contribution to the annual University PROM magazine which was published in November, which you can read online if you didn’t already receive a copy via email or post.

In April ground was broken on the Old College renovation, which the OSA continue to be a strong supporter of. I’d like to thank Steve Lawrence for his continued dedication as the OSA representative to the Old College Project Board. Also in April the University officially launched the 150th programme, and events continue to be added to this exciting schedule both in Aberystwyth, Wales, and beyond. As part of the 150th celebrations a book “Pennies of the People: Aberystwyth University in 150 Objects” has been produced. I was honoured to contribute two pieces for the book about the OSA and the annual Students’ Union Varsity tournament, and ensure the inclusion of EL Ellis’ words on the founding of the OSA. The book will be launched later this year.

As well as regularly meeting with the University I also had the pleasure to meet with Ben Lake MP in Westminster to discuss the importance of the OSA and the alumni community to Aberystwyth, as well as priorities for my term and the milestone anniversary plans.

After a couple of years of virtual (or no) events, it’s been great that the OSA has been represented at key events and occasions this year. As I am based in south London, it has sometimes been difficult to get to all events being hosted in and around Wales, but I am grateful to the supportive and dedicated committee who have always been willing to ensure the OSA is represented when I have been unable to be there in person.

In October, Vice President Julie Finch, past President Gwenda Sippings and Aberystwyth Branch representative Louise Perkins kicked the bar along with other attendees at the annual University Founder’s Day celebrations, followed by breakfast and a talk by the Rt Hon Liz Saville Roberts MP and leader of Plaid Cymru.

In November, Julie also attended the launch of the University European Opportunities Fund, made possible by a generous donation by alumnus William Parker, which will be a critical fund for students following the decision by the UK government to not continue with the EU's Erasmus scheme.

In December I was thrilled to attend the official opening of the new Veterinary School, opened by HRH Prince Charles, a former student who returned for his first visit back in over 50 years (we very briefly chatted over coffee!). The Vet school is Wales’ first and only School of Veterinary Science, and was made possible from generous alumni donations totalling £500,000, showing the value and contribution of alumni, including members of the OSA, in the future of the university and the experience of current and future students.

In February I was able to virtually join this year’s cohort of Student Callers to talk about the history and role of the OSA, as part of their preparations for the annual alumni fundraising calling.

In May the University held its annual meeting of Court, a public forum for communication and discussion of the University’s activities. This year saw updates on recent developments as well as an insightful presentation by Dr Jenny Mathers of International Politics on “Russia’s War in Ukraine: What We Have Learned So Far”.

Alongside the other milestone anniversaries, we marked 120 years of the Law Department. Two events were held to celebrate the oldest Law Department in Wales. In May I joined university staff, executives, students, alumni, political figures and notable figures from the field of Law and Criminology at a dinner at the Old Bailey in London. A highlight of the evening was hearing guest speaker the Rt Hon Lord David Lloyd-Jones FLSW, who is also an Honorary Fellow of the University. In June, OSA Cardiff Branch President Kay Powell joined over 150 attendees at a dinner held at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. The event was hugely successful and included the Rt Hon Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE as guest speaker.

One of the biggest and most exciting events of the year has of course been the University graduation ceremonies held during July. This year was extra special as graduates from 2020 and 2021 also had the opportunity to return for their ceremonies which were missed due to the pandemic, alongside the graduates from 2022. The 16 ceremonies were held over 7 days and it was wonderful to see campus full of celebrating graduates and their supporters to mark their incredible achievements. The OSA was present at each ceremony with a member taking part in the Procession and taking their seat alongside staff, University executives and council members, and local dignitaries on the graduation stage. A huge thank you must go to Julie, Louise, Gwenda and Steve for their support during the graduation period (especially for donning the gowns and caps during a very hot week!). Graduation is of course a natural point to consider joining the OSA, and through email campaigns in the lead up, a prominent place in the graduation booklet, and being present and speaking to graduates during the week, we’ve seen a marked increase in people signing up to join the OSA this year compared with the previous few years. This was also likely helped by the commitment to ensure that funds from the memberships received during this period go towards supporting current students. A very warm welcome to our newest members!

Another aspect of graduation week is the awarding of Honorary Fellowships by the University. Earlier in September, Julie attended a virtual event welcoming the 2022 recipients, who have now received their Fellowships during graduation. A particular note must go to Jonathan Whelan (husband of OSA Committee Member Lindsay!) who received his Fellowship for his contributions to the IT and computing industry.

In July, the OSA co-hosted the annual alumni reception with the University at the Royal Welsh Show. Unfortunately due to the very hot weather, COVID, and travel, some committee members and guests were unable to attend the event in the end however over 40 alumni were able to gather to reconnect nonetheless.

Detailed write-ups of all our news and events can be found on our website, which we are continuing to review, update and add to aiming to keep members and others up to date on our activities and progress. If you have any news or anything you would like to promote through a post on the website, please do get in touch.

Whilst we have enjoyed a successful year and look forward to another exciting year for the OSA and University, I’d also like to acknowledge and share my thoughts for those no longer with us, including Dr Wynne Davies, Tun Arshad Ayub (past President and founder of the Aber Alumni Club of Malaysia), and Elizabeth Rokkan (who kindly left a bequest to the OSA). I’m always grateful for members sharing news, both positive and sad, so that we can share and mark it in the appropriate way.

I’m now looking forwards to the next year and focusing on key priorities including marking the OSA’s 130th anniversary, engagement with the Students’ Union and current students, encouraging new members and hopefully holding committee meetings and events in person as much as is possible. We will also look to work on a re-vamp of some of our communications and introduce an (at least) annual newsletter for OSA members (keep your eyes peeled on your inboxes!).

I’d like to thank everyone, including the dedicated OSA Committee, OSA members, University and Students’ Union colleagues, for your support and engagement this year and very much look forward to working with and for you all in the year ahead. Please do get in touch if you need anything or would like to know more about what myself and the Committee are up to!

Lauren Marks OSA President 2021-23

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