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Reception for Pioneers of the University of York celebrates classes of 66’ 67’ and 68’

Posted on 30 April 2024

The University of York recently hosted a heartwarming reception at Derwent College to honour the pioneering classes of 1966, 1967, and 1968. 

A group of older people are stood and sat with their arms folded and smiling

On 11 April nearly 60 attendees from the Departments of Economics, Education, English, History, Mathematics, and Politics, gathered to reminisce and celebrate all things York. Nestled within Derwent College - one of the university's first colleges and the site of the first graduation - the gathering served as a fitting tribute to the trailblazing spirit that has defined the institution.

Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffery delivered a stirring speech which acknowledged the profound impact of the pioneering classes on shaping the University's identity:

"The culture and ethos you helped to pioneer has shaped who we are today, laying the foundations for York to be a University for Public Good." 

Reflecting on the enduring legacy of the early graduates, he emphasised the University’s ambition to become the University of Opportunity: where every student is empowered to succeed. One of the University’s first graduates and dedicated legacy pledger David Jennings also shared a few words about the power of philanthropy:

“I did explain why I decided to contribute [to the legacy giving scheme] and that does reflect back on some of the things Charlie said about opportunity. My English teacher told my parents they should mortgage the house to send me to university. I don't think they had the confidence to tell them it actually wasn't possible to mortgage a council flat. Fortunately, they didn't need to do so because a grant was available to support me to take an undergraduate course. I think it's only when I look back that I realise just how generous that was."

Among the guests was David Foster, who played a pivotal role in organising the University's inaugural graduation ceremony. He signed the first degree certificates by hand, in a ceremony held in the very same Derwent College dining room decades ago - he still uses the same pen today!

The afternoon concluded with current students leading tours of the campus, offering the alumni an opportunity to witness first-hand the evolution of campus to the vibrant grounds of today.

The event served as a reminder of the University's rich history, its founding principles of social purpose and the impact of its visionary alumni. York’s pioneering classes’ legacy continues to inspire generations of students to strive for excellence and uphold the values of public good.