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Founding students return to York 40 years on

Posted on 7 October 2003

On 9 October 1963, 230 people became the founding students of the University of York. On Friday 10 October 2003, 80 of them will return for a dinner to celebrate the University’s 40th anniversary.

The first students lived in digs in York and walked, cycled or caught the bus to lectures and seminars at Heslington Hall or the King’s Manor. By their third and final year, the first colleges – Derwent and Langwith – had opened.

The 80 former students will return to York for a reunion dinner at the King’s Manor, hosted by the Chancellor, Dame Janet Baker, and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Cantor. The evening will mark the culmination of the University’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

The dinner will also be attended by some of the University’s first staff, including Professor Sir Alan Peacock, the founding head of Economics, and Professor Graeme Moodie, who still lives in Heslington.

After graduating in 1966, the first intake went on to pursue a variety of careers around the world. They include Patricia Renfro (née Candlin) who is now Deputy University Librarian at Columbia University, New York and Dr Linda Bilheimer (née Todhunter), Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an organisation dedicated to providing better healthcare for Americans. For many, the dinner will be first time they have met for almost 40 years.

“I am delighted that so many of our original students will be returning to the University they helped to found,” said Dominic Boyd, the University’s Alumni Officer. “When the University first opened its doors on 9 October 1963 just 230 students registered and the colleges had yet to be built. Forty years on over 50,000 students have graduated from York and the University is one of Britain’s most successful. It is fitting that our founding students from 1963 should be invited back to join in today’s success.”

Notes to editors:

  • The first students studied Economics, Politics, English, Education, History or Mathematics. Sciences were taught at York from 1965 when new laboratories were built.
  • Academic and administrative staff numbered just 28 in 1963.
  • During the University’s first year all students lived in digs, travelling to Heslington, where Heslington Hall, the Stables and the New Building housed all the lectures, study and catering facilities, or to the King’s Manor or Micklegate House. The first colleges, Derwent and Langwith, were opened by the Queen on 22 October 1965.
  • Today, the main campus in 200-acre landscaped park, houses eight colleges, 23 academic departments and a number of research centres and institutes. The total number of students for 2001/02 was 9523, with 2727 members of staff.
  • In September 2003 the Sunday Times named York ‘University of Year’

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