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Ut vitam habeant – so that they may have life

On 11 November 1918, the First World War came to an end and the following day Dr Astley Clarke wrote to the local newspaper to announce the creation of the 'Leicester University Fund', in celebration of peace and for the founding of a university college as a memorial. This set in motion a story of teaching, research and social improvement which continues to this day.

A fundraising campaign took off in earnest, spurred on by a determination to create a living memorial to those who had given their lives. By January 1920, just 14 months after Astley Clarke made the first donation, the total stood at £100,000. This included donations by grieving parents and wives in memory of sons and husbands who sadly would never return to Leicester. It also had a site, purchased and donated by Thomas Fielding Johnson in 1919. A Golden Book recorded every founding gift that local families, societies and businesses made to establish the University.

On 4 October 1921, less than three years after Astley Clarke's initial donation, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College opened its doors with 11 day students, three part-time lecturers, the principal, Dr RF Rattray, and Secretary, WG Gibbs. In 1927 the institution became University College, Leicester; 30 years later, in 1957, the college was granted its Royal Charter. This gave us the status of a University with the right to award our own degrees.

Nothing demonstrates being a Citizen of Change more clearly than this remarkable act of selflessness and hope for the future. As we begin our Centenary celebrations there will be many opportunities to reflect on our past. What’s most important is that we continue to uphold this remarkable legacy. Our research must continue to address the global challenges of today and tomorrow and we must continue to provide an outstanding education and give students the opportunity to succeed and become change-makers.

Our Centenary celebrations will begin in April 2021 and run until July 2022. The events and activities to celebrate our past and strengthen our future are split into three areas: Our 100, Think 100 and Engage 100.

Our 100 plans to be our focus on the history of the University and the people, places, objects and ideas that have made this University great. Now we want to know your nominations for what or who should be included in this special list – the more unusual and obscure the better! We want to recognise and celebrate from our past, identify our achievements of today and forecast successes for the future. We are sharing details on how to submit your ideas for inclusion in the final 100 on our website and social media channels. All nominations will be reviewed by a selection panel and we will then curate a virtual exhibition to showcase your chosen 100. Nominate on the Our 100 page.

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