University of Hertfordshire History
University of Hertfordshire History
The original campus for the University was at Roe Green in Hatfield, where it was founded as a technical college. The Gape family of St Michael’s Manor in St Albans owned the land at Roe Green from the late 17th century. In the 1920s they sold it to Hill, a farmer, who then sold it to Alan Butler, chairman of the de Havilland Aircraft Company who lived at Beech Farm nearby. In 1944 he donated 90 acres (36 hectares) of land at Roe Green to be used for educational purposes. In 1948 building commenced. The first principal W.A.J Chapman started on 1 January 1949 and in spring 1952 the 33 full-time and 66 part-time teachers were appointed. Hatfield Technical College opened with 1,738 students in September 1952 and in December officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. It was the first large technical college to be established in England after the war. Students attended the college on part-time or full-time courses.
In 1958 it was renamed Hatfield College of Technology and by 1960 offered four-year sandwich diplomas in technology. In 1961 it was designated a regional college in England and Wales by the Ministry of Education. The governors purchased a digital computer at a cost of £29,201 in 1962 so that a computer science degree could be established. The Council for National Academic Awards was formed in 1965 and Hatfield College was recognised for 13 honours degree courses.
Sir Norman Lindop became the Principal of the College of Technology in 1966. A year later L.E. Haines was made Chair of Governors, but died shortly afterwards and was replaced by F. Bramston Austin. In the same year Bayfordbury is acquired for the college. The following year, L. E. Haines is appointed Chair of Governors, but dies shortly after appointment and is replaced by F. Bramston Austin. It was also in 1967 that Bayfordbury was acquired for the institution.
In 1969 Hatfield College of Technology became Hatfield Polytechnic, offering honours degree courses in technology. In 1970 an observatory was built on the Bayfordbury Campus. Wall Hall and Balls Park Teacher Training Colleges merged in 1976 to become Hertfordshire College of Higher Education. In the same year Hatfield Polytechnic took over Balls Park. By 1977 more than ten per cent of the 4000 came from more than forty different countries. The Students’ Union Social Centre opened in 1977.
In 1982 John Illston succeeded Sir Norman Lindop as the director. A sports hall was built on the Hatfield Campus in 1984 and the number of students in that year was more than 5000. The number of staff, in the same year, had increased to 824.
Neil Buxton became its director in 1987. The following year, Sir Ron Dearing and Buxton signed an agreement that gave the polytechnic accreditation from the Council for National Academic Awards. Hatfield was one of only 21 polytechnics, colleges and Scottish Central institutions to be accredited at the time. Hatfield was also, in that year, one of eight polytechnics accredited for research degrees. In 1989 it was given corporate status.
After John Major announced in 1991 that polytechnics were to be abolished, Hatfield Polytechnic announced its intention to apply for university status. In 1992 it became the University of Hertfordshire and Sir Brian Corby became the first Chancellor. It was the first university to run a bus company by making Uno bus public. The Hertfordshire College of Health Care and Nursing Studies and the Barnet College of Nursing and Midwifery merged with the university in 1993.
In 1994 the St Albans Cathedral was chosen to hold the university’s graduation ceremonies. The same year saw the first publication of league tables and Hertfordshire was named as the top new university. In 1995 its law school moved to St Albans. Sir Ian MacLaurin was appointed chancellor in 1996 and in 1997 the Learning Resource Centre opened.
In 2000, Olivia de Havilland, cousin of Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, visited the university to mark the inauguration of a project to build a new campus named after her cousin. The university’s 50th anniversary was celebrated in 2002, by which time it had 21,695 students. In 2003 Tim Wilson succeeded Neil Buxton as vice-chancellor and the de Havilland campus opened.
Hertfordshire Sports Village also opened in 2003. In 2005 the university launched the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Postgraduate Medical School and School of Pharmacy to enhance medical education, training and research in the region. In 2006 the University opened its School of Film, Music and Media. The university opened the MacLaurin building in 2007, named in honour of its former chancellor Lord MacLaurin followed by a new law building in 2011. During this period, Hertfordshire became a lead academic sponsor of Elstree University Technical College, a university technical college which opened in September 2013. Hertfordshire is also the academic sponsor of Watford University Technical College
In 2008 the university was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education University of the Year Award. In 2009 and 2010 it was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award. In 2010, Tim Wilson announced his intention to retire as vice-chancellor after more than 19 years at the university.
In 2011, Quintin McKellar replaced Tim Wilson as Vice-Chancellor of the University. Also on the same year, the Hatfield Beacon is restored and repositioned at the new Law School site. Meanwhile, in the following year, the Kaspar project received a £180,000 donation from an international grant making foundation, which was used to further the University’s research into the use of robotics to support the social development of children with autism.
In 2015, Hertfordshire has adopted a policy of naming its buildings after people or organisations with a significant local or regional impact. These include Kate Bellingham, British engineer and television presenter and Alistair Spalding, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells Theatre. All of the halls are being named after influential alumni who the University feels represent the attributes of Hertfordshire graduates. In these two cases, the halls were named in recognition of Bellingham and Spalding’s attributes of, intellectual depth and adaptability and professionalism, employability and enterprise. On the same year, University of Hertfordshire has been announced as one of the first recipients of the Race Equality Charter which is an initiative that recognises excellence in advancing racial equality in higher education. The charter was launched by the Equality Challenge Unit at the start of the 2015 academic year. The other recipients were: De Montfort University, King’s College London, Kingston University, Staffordshire University, University College London, University of Manchester and Royal Holloway, University of London.
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