- Olive Banks - the University's first female Professor
- Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith - the Students' Union's first female President
- Wendy Hickling - the University's first graduate
These three portraits represent the realisation of a project long discussed. The paintings and portraits we hold record the history of our University and the preceding University College. As such, they represent not only historical facts but also historical values. They inevitably do not reflect our current staff and student composition, nor do they exemplify our aspiration to become an ever more diverse and inclusive university community.
In 2017, working with colleagues from Attenborough Arts, we commissioned three portraits of female ‘firsts’ at the University of Leicester, all to be painted by female artists. We received more than 50 applications from artists keen to be part of this historic change and are absolutely delighted with the three finished works, unveiled as part of our week-long celebration of International Women’s Day in March 2018.
The art we display on campus matters; it is a mechanism by which we can express our values. This project represents and celebrates the diversity of our staff, students and wider contributors, by recognising pioneers whose achievements have challenged stereotypes and demonstrated that achievement and leadership has no boundaries of race or gender.
These portraits mark a place on our journey towards embedding a culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity throughout the University. We were very proud to welcome to the unveiling event one of our subjects, the families and colleagues of all three, and the artists who have captured them for future generations.
Dr Kate Williams
Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality and Diversity