Menna Richards, Vice-President of Cardiff University and Controller of BBC Wales, reflects on her role at the University and the award of her Honorary Fellowship
I first got to know Cardiff University as a rival, when I was a student at Aberystwyth University in the 1970ís. Cardiff was a very different place in those days. There hadnít been the merger with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, and it was long before anybody thought about a merger with the University of Wales College of Medicine. We students at Aberystwyth thought Cardiff was a place that was OK, but not as good as Aberystwyth. Today, as a graduate of Aberystwyth, I can say it is still a great university. And as Vice-President of Cardiff, I think it has become a great university.
Cardiff is going from strength to strength; itís in the Russell Group, itís one of the top 100 universities in the world and itís hugely popular amongst students. Itís aiming to be, and surely will be, even higher up the league table of great universities.
In 1995, I joined Cardiff University Council, and was astonished to find I was the only woman lay member of council. Iím delighted to say thatís changed over the years.
One of the big changes I was involved in making was the Universityís name. As a member of the External Relations committee, we made recommendations to Council about altering the name from University of Wales, Cardiff, to Cardiff University. The committee spent a very long time debating letterheads, typography, and the way in which the University would describe itself in Welsh and English. It was a very big deal to change the name, and I believe the University made the right decision.
Iím pleased to be involved with Cardiff, not least because my job as Controller of BBC Wales has significant overlaps with higher education. The BBC in Wales is the biggest employer in the creative industries in Wales. We want the best, the brightest most able employees and we look to places like Cardiff University to provide them for us.
Receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Cardiff was a more emotional moment of University history-making for me. I sat on the stage and faced all those students graduating, and thought back to what it was like for me when I graduated. It was a particular honour for me because my husband Patrick Hannan and I were made Honorary Fellows the same day in the same ceremony. I gather thatís never happened before at the University. We were happy to be creating a bit of history for Cardiff.
One of the most important things any institution in Wales can offer is raising the nationís profile outside its boundaries, whether thatís in the rest of the UK, Europe or worldwide. Cardiff University certainly does that. Its reputation is something that gives Wales a higher reputation across the world. The importance of that cannot be underestimated.