Prof Julie Mennell

University congratulates its Class of 2020


Today Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell leads University of Cumbria in congratulating its Class of 2020. 

In the week that the university would usually welcome its latest graduands to Carlisle for a series of graduation ceremonies, the Vice Chancellor leads the congratulations in a new video that recognises and celebrates the achievements and impact of its Class of 2020. 

Staff at each of the university’s five institutes - health; education; arts; business, industry and leadership; and science, natural resources and outdoor studies – have also hosted informal virtual celebrations to reflect upon the last three years with their groups of graduating students. 

Professor Mennell has also signed more than 1,100 commemorative cards that are, this week, falling through the letterboxes of those successful final-year students. 

Members of the university’s 55,000-strong alumni association, including those of the university’s legacy institutions, have also been active in supporting the new graduates. 

Offers of mentorship, graduate opportunities and donations to the university’s Bright Futures Fund have come forward in a show of support for those embarking on new careers during the coronavirus crisis. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has already thrown a spotlight on the positive contribution of University of Cumbria’s final-year students in 2020.  

Responding to the crisis, many of the university’s third-year student nurses and those training to enter a range of allied health professions such as occupational therapy, paramedic practice and radiography stepped up to enter the NHS and wider health and social care sector. In spring, healthcare students across the UK were invited to take up appropriate roles in the NHS to support the registered workforce.  It is estimated the approach adopted could increase the NHS workforce in Cumbria and North Lancashire by an additional 352 student nurses. 

With a strong focus on public service, students nearing the end of their Initial Teacher Education courses at the university found novel ways to help schools and pupils learning at home during lockdown. 

So whilst July’s graduation ceremonies have been postponed, it remains the university’s clear intention to hold physical events for the Class of 2020 at Carlisle Cathedral when it is safe to do so.  

Closely following guidance from Government and Public Health England, University of Cumbria’s ceremonies team is working with partners to develop those plans. 

Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell said: “This summer is a story of how those in our Class of 2020 have succeeded in their studies despite all the challenges they’ve faced, including those of the last term of not being on campus.   

“We want to take this opportunity to give them a chance to reflect upon how far they’ve come, the amazing things they’ve achieved, the unforgettable experiences they’ve had, the networks and friendships they’ve made, how much they’ve given and how much more they’ve got to give.   

“Our Class of 2020 are high in our thoughts and they will never be forgotten. We are proud of each one of them and look forward to the day when we are able to celebrate with them in person.” 

Picture: Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor, University of Cumbria