Sir Andrew Witty

"Now is the time to be ambitious"

Last year, we celebrated the outstanding achievements of the Impact Campaign, which came to an end in September. Sir Andrew Witty, University of Nottingham Chancellor, marked the occasion with this motivating talk at our event in Nottingham.

Words by Sir Andrew Witty (Economics and Agricultural Economics, 1985), Chancellor

This is an extraordinarily exciting time to be alive. Take a moment and think about the world we live in today, a world where three to five billion people will soon be living in developed nations for the very first time.

The intellectual capacity of our world is rapidly expanding. Consider for example, our ability to process information in comparison to where it was just five years ago.

I met someone who has figured out how to use 95% more of the information produced by MRI scanners. That’s more than Sir Peter Mansfield realised when he first developed the technology, but that’s not because he wasn’t smart – Sir Peter was the smartest man I’d ever met. It’s because the technology didn’t exist, but it does now.

"A community of alumni, students, staff, friends and neighbours have come together to achieve great things. But we must not make this the end, it’s just the end of the first chapter."

Those opportunities are here right now. When you drive a collision of sciences, ideas, disciplines and open mindedness with the scale of human intellect we will see over the next 50 years, it will make the industrial revolution look like a warm up.

For this University, it’s easy to rest on our history as an elite research institution. But there is a great phrase, ‘Nobody buys shares in a company based on what happened yesterday. They buy shares in a company on what they think might happen tomorrow’. It should be the same in universities.

I am proud to be a Nottingham graduate. I believe that we can be both elite and inclusive. We can do breakthrough research and protect our environment. We can care about our global footprint and love our local community.

It’s a time to be active in academia. It’s a time to be ambitious.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign has proved what is possible. A community of alumni, students, staff, friends and neighbours have come together to achieve great things. But we must not make this the end, it’s just the end of the first chapter.

We must question ourselves – how can we build momentum so that all the great projects, and people, that we have supported so far don’t become part of our legacy, but instead a down payment on our future?

This institution is about producing people who can transform the world for countless numbers of other people, and who are going to be able to change the world in more ways than anyone can imagine.

Now is the time to be active. Together, we can drive this University forward in its rightful place as one of the greatest universities, not just in the UK but in the world. Let our history fuel our future.



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