Celebrating Foundation Day in 1920’s Style

Student Communications Manager, Kim Kontos, shares the experience of the Foundation Day celebrations on 22 November 2016
Honorary Graduates and Fellows with HRH The Princess Royal
Honorary Graduates and Fellows with HRH The Princess Royal
The celebratory atmosphere gave a sense of togetherness and purpose that will continue to inspire us.

“Foundation Day offers a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the diversity and achievements across the UoL family. I see it as a special moment to reconnect with colleagues, meet those working or studying near or far, and be inspired by the journeys of those receiving Honorary Degrees. It is a very enjoyable evening to attend (And the desserts are yummy too!).” Regina Dundelova, Senior Business Analyst

The transformation of Senate House

Tuesday 22 November came very quickly, but walking into a very still and beautifully transformed Senate House, only then did the magnitude of this special occasion really impress on me. This was the day on which we were going to Staff from University of London International Programmescelebrate the University of London’s 180th birthday, the 80th birthday of our headquarters at Senate House, and the many achievements of those who would receive honorary degrees from HRH The Princess Royal.

"Senate House seemed to have a warm glow as it welcomed distinguished guests and honorary graduates."

Kemi Ebofin, Registry Officer, shared that “it was a lovely celebration of the honorary degrees, and the event marked the 180th anniversary of the University of London. This is my second year attending foundation Day and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.” With so many occasions to celebrate, it was very fitting, then, that the quiet, dormant atmosphere of the plant-filled building was slowly lighting and filling up with many happy and excited faces. Reetu Kansal, Project Manager: Assessment Tasks, felt that the atmosphere at “Senate House seemed to have a warm glow as it welcomed distinguished guests and honorary graduates.” The glow did not cease throughout the ceremony and evening.

As a new member of staff one feels very lucky to be among the staff, students, alumni and distinguished guests to celebrate this special occasion. Lynne Roberts, Head of International Foundation Programme, has “worked at University of London colleges for over 20 years and this is the first time I have attended a special event at Senate House. I have always loved the building when attending meetings or conferences and to see it set up beautifully to celebrate its 80th anniversary was wonderful. The sense of community amongst colleagues and special guests combined with the Art Deco atmosphere made it an evening to remember.”

The Crush Hall at Senate HouseCeremony for the conferment of Honorary Degrees

The evening programme commenced in the impressive Beveridge Hall, with guests waiting expectantly at their seats as the procession walked in. University of London’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal opened the evening by sharing various exciting milestones the University of London has achieved over time, creating a sense of pride among the guests. Seetha Sriraman, Administrative Officer, described it as “so motivating to listen to UoL’s past year’s achievements from HRH The Princess Royal, our Chancellor.” It was such an honour to hear those words coming from such a prominent figure.

The speeches that followed outlined the extraordinary achievements of the HRH Princes Royal handing out Honorary Degreehonorary graduates and fellows before they received the honorary degrees from HRH The Princess Royal herself.

It was really quite humbling to hear about the lives of such accomplished individuals. I heard that on our Foundation Day in 1948, the famous Winston Churchill was awarded a University of London honorary degree as well. It shows that the achievements of today’s honorary graduates and fellows are the kind that will go down in history, and now also in University of London history.

The celebration

Following the ceremony, we walked out to see Senate House had transformed once again. The waiters, food, bandThe dessert buffet at Senate House and decorations all transported us to the 1920’s. It felt like stepping into a Senate House history picture book. We enjoyed traditional fish and chips as well as other delicious dishes, served by waiters who were dressed in 1920’s style. It felt extra special discovering the eye-catchingly beautiful buffet of mouth-watering desserts. I daresay it took a while to move on from that table as it felt like there were always more desserts to taste. 

HRH The Princess Royal made her rounds meeting with and speaking to dozens of guests in the room. It is inspiring to have seen so many accomplished individuals put so much time and care into making the evening so welcoming and enjoyable.

That was not the end of an evening of surprises. A large Senate House-shaped cake was brought out to celebrate the 80th birthday of this iconic building being the University of London’s headquarters. 

A wonderful evening

I agree with Louise Devlin, Programme Manager, who explained that “as a new member of staff, attending Foundation Day was a fantastic experience. It was great to hear about the inspirational work of those receiving honorary degrees, and I really enjoyed meeting staff from across the organisation”. 

Rebecca Dooley, Programme Manager shared that “it was a pleasure to be part of Foundation Day as it showed me just how far the University of London reaches!” 

In all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with all its carefully arranged details that made it so special. The celebratory atmosphere gave a sense of togetherness and purpose that will continue to inspire us. It certainly left a spring in my step. It was truly an honour to be a part of the evening.

Kim KontosKim Kontos
Student Communications Manager
Student Experience Team

Featured Quotes by other University of London International Programmes colleagues.
Find out more about Foundation Day online.