University of Lincoln bids farewell to Chancellor
University of Lincoln Chancellor Dame Elizabeth Esteve-Coll has stepped down after seven years in office.
Dame Elizabeth bid a formal farewell to staff and students during an emotional ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral, where she was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Arts and the title Chancellor Emerita.
So what kind of legacy does she think she has left behind?
Dame Elizabeth admitted she found it difficult to offer an objective judgement of the University because she still feels so close to it, but she is proud of the people and place.
“Lincoln has energy and vision,” she said. “It has the feeling that nothing is too difficult and anything can be achieved. That is one of the benefits of being a new university. I think that is shown in the grant funding provided to do Learning Landscapes here. It was important that it was given to somewhere that knows a lot about learning in a new environment. The University has been ploughing a new furrow and making a real go of it in such a short space of time – it is totally amazing.”
Although she does not think the need for investment and expansion is over for the University following a period of dramatic development over the past seven years, Dame Elizabeth said the central infrastructure was now firmly established.
The outcome of the Research Assessment Exercise later this year is one of the most crucial milestones which will dictate the direction of the University of Lincoln over the coming years, she said.
“You cannot be a university which is just a teaching university,” explained Dame Elizabeth. “Your staff have got to be involved in research and that feeds into the teaching. It makes it exciting for students to be at the cutting edge.”
Being presented with her Honorary Doctorate and Chancellor Emerita status was a tearful moment for Dame Elizabeth, who said she was “completely overwhelmed” by the reception she received at the ceremony.
“I am used to talking to large numbers of people,” she said. “Having a sea of faces in front of me is not really that daunting but having the whole lot stand up – one has a lump in one’s throat.”
University of Lincoln Vice-Chancellor Professor David Chiddick led the tributes to Dame Elizabeth.
He said: “She has been an outstanding role model and champion of this university. We are delighted that she will be associated with the university long term as Chancellor Emerita.”
Dame Elizabeth was installed as Chancellor of the University of Lincoln in 2001.
She stepped down as Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia in 1997 when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, having spent her career in the arts.
She became the first woman to head a national arts collection when she was appointed director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1987 and was awarded a DBE for Services to the Arts in 1995.
As a permanent tribute to Dame Elizabeth, the University of Lincoln commissioned artist Clare Shenstone to produce a portrait of her.
The portrait and a triptych of smaller pieces are now on display in the Vice-Chancellor’s gallery, alongside a collection of the artist’s other works.