Members of all university unions were present at the inaugural ceremony installing Professor Muhammad Yunus as new Chancellor of the University on Friday 26th October.
During his installation, Professor Yunus spoke of the need for universities to solve global problems, but suggested that the biggest challenge was often right next to campus – within the neighbourhood. Drawing on his own experience, he developed the idea of the ‘village’ as a real university saying that ‘without community engagement, the concept of a university is empty – the village is a real university‘. He praised the potential in this generation of young people, suggesting they could be the most powerful generation ever – in fact he wondered if young people were yet aware of their real powers. He suggested young people needed to ‘redesign’ the whole system – ‘before the system trashes you, trash that sort of system‘. Arguing that, if taught correctly young people could create jobs, not just seek them – he believed that universities were not factories to make ‘jobseekers’ – each human being could ‘create a new world‘. This world as at present was ‘finished’. We needed to aim for the next 25 years, where poverty didn’t belong to human society. He finished by arguing that young people were not ” ‘future leaders’, they were leaders already, and that universities should help make that happen“.
During the ceremony, which had been opened by Principal Pamela Gillies, Student President Carla Fyfe welcomed the Chancellor on behalf of the students, and Cabinet Secretary Mike Russell also spoke welcoming the Chancellor.
Of interest to the unions, and the university community as a whole, Mike Russell stated that the Scottish government didn’t want to administer a glorified poor law from Westminster, and also talked of how education changed lives, which was why the Scottish government would continue to invest in it. He also pledged continuing Scottish government support for free education.
Following the ceremony, Professor Yunus informally spoke to members of the university community during lunch, and during this was pleased to receive the congratulations of the university unions, from UCU branch president Douglas Chalmers, during which he thanked the unions for their support, telling them “I’m looking forward to seeing more of you.”