press release
Published: 19 October 2016

University of Surrey celebrates 50 years in Guildford

By Peter La

This academic year, the University of Surrey celebrates 50 years in Guildford, launching a special programme of events to mark the historic occasion and reflect on the many impressive achievements during that time. 

Aerial view of University of Surrey campus

On Saturday 22 October - exactly 50 years to the day since the inauguration of the University’s first Chancellor - a 50th Anniversary Celebratory Procession of robed students, staff, alumni and special guests will take place along Guildford High Street to Holy Trinity Church, stopping along the route at the Guildhall. The procession will then be joined by local Councillors and Mayors and Mayoresses from across the county, with special giveaways on offer for residents and spectators.

This procession will also mark a celebration of the great achievements that have been made by the University during the last 50 years, including:

  • Distinguished alumnus, Sir Alec Issigonis, designs the Mini. In 1957, in response to the Suez Oil Crisis, Issigonis’ employer – the British Motor Corporation – set him a challenge: to design a small, fuel-efficient car. His radical design used a transverse engine to power the front wheels, and comfortably sat four passengers in a remarkably small 10 ft (3 m) long chassis.
  • Surrey Satellite Technology Limited launches the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) - The DMC is the world’s first earth observation constellation of low-cost, small satellites which has monitored the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and many other natural disasters. The data captured has allowed aid agencies and governments to prevent unnecessary loss of life, plan delivery of food and supplies, and secure evacuation routes.
  • Alf Adams invents the strained quantum-well laser – considered to be one of the top ten greatest UK scientific breakthroughs of all time, providing the laser that powers the internet, CDs, DVDs, computer mice and supermarket checkouts.
  • Education campaigns are sparked when Surrey research shows that iodine deficiency during pregnancy adversely affects children’s mental development later in life.
  • Surrey’s research into vitamin D informs Public Health England’s new national guidelines that recommend an intake of 10 micrograms daily.
  • The first commemorative tree, a coastal redwood, is planted at the University, starting a 1,600 strong collection of beautiful and rare trees from around the world, enhancing the wonderful landscape.

“It is fantastic to commemorate this milestone with our local community and bring our 50th Anniversary celebrations right into the heart of Guildford,” said Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Surrey. 

“Our proud association with our home town is very important to us and this presents a great opportunity to reflect on the fantastic achievements we have made as a result of the hard work and efforts of our staff, students and alumni working together with our local community, while also looking ahead to an even brighter future for the next 50 years in Guildford.” 

The celebrations will continue next year with the University of Surrey Wonder Festival on 13 May 2017. There will be a whole host of activities on offer, including science demonstrations, music and dance performances, sports activities and hands-on workshops. 

Explore our history and see how you can be part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations.

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Peter La
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