Alumni and friends

Your support in 2016-17

We are extremely thankful for the generous support of our alumni and friends who help to change lives by supporting our students, campus facilities and world-class research.

In the last year, more than 2,000 people contributed to the success of the University. Here we highlight some of the projects and initiatives that would not have been possible without their help and whose names are listed in our roll of honour.

Shape our next 50 years

Do you believe in the power of education to transform lives? We do.

Over the past 50 years, the University has been the home of outstanding teaching, research and innovation that has changed the world for the better.

With your help, we can push the boundaries of our research, making the world smarter, safer and more connected. We can continue to educate the brightest and most promising students, irrespective of their background and origin. Support from our alumni, friends and partners has played a critical role in the University of Surrey’s success in becoming one of the top universities in the UK.

Last year, we launched the Chancellor’s Appeal which offers our alumni and friends the opportunity to play a part in shaping our future. We rely on the support of our donors to make a real difference to the Surrey community. To date, we have raised almost £519,000 from more than 1,200 generous supporters.

Help us transform students’ lives

Scholarships mean that we can reward academic excellence, support research and enable students from all backgrounds to realise their potential. With your help we can increase the number of scholarships available to our high calibre students and help them achieve their full potential, now and into the future.

Help us tackle global challenges

Help us continue our pioneering work which is tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time: providing safe drinking water for billions of people across the world; technology to improve the care of people with dementia; and discovering new treatments for human and animal cancer.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Max Lu, said: “We hope that our alumni and friends will consider taking part and making a gift to the University. As a donor, your gifts will have a transformational impact and support the dynamic, pioneering spirit of Surrey.”

Individual giving: Past success funds future talent

Giving back to Surrey is very important to Ernest Littauer and his wife Deveda who are long-time supporters of the University, impressed by our vision and values and the calibre of our students.

Ernest studied Metallurgy and a PhD in Electro-Metallurgy in the 1950s and 60s at our predecessor institution, Battersea College of Technology, and remembers with gratitude its ethos which allowed its students the freedom to research what they wanted and instilled the confidence to succeed.

These qualities enabled him to take the first step on the ladder of US company Lockheed Martin which contacted his professor for help on corrosion science research. The professor was slightly hard of hearing and passed the call to Ernest who had specialised in this area - within weeks he had taken a job with them in California! Ernest rose to the position of Vice-President and General Manager of Research at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company before taking retirement.

“I had a fantastic education which put me in a position to move upwards at Lockheed,” said Ernest. “I’ve always been proud that Battersea College of Technology has developed into the world-class institution that’s the University of Surrey now.

“It thrives on new initiatives, educates a diverse population, and ensures student success which result in high rankings. These are all things Deveda and I value too.”

Supporting students is particularly important to the couple and they provide two Littuaer prizes in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, to recognise writing and presentation skills which Ernest says were so vital to his career success.

Ghilane Braganola is one of this year’s winners whose research project is based at McLaren Automotive, improving the crashworthiness of composite materials in cars. She said: ““As a PhD student it can be difficult to find funding and it is so nice to receive this award. It can be used for attending a conference, for example, which is very helpful for my doctorate.”

The pair also fund the Ernest Littauer Award which provides £1,500 annually to a graduate joining the Advanced Materials MSc programme to recognise their academic achievement and contribution to the life of the University.

Ernest and Deveda are committed to supporting the University in the future, contributing to its growth, and have pledged a generous legacy to strengthen our academic provision. The couple are strong believers in giving back to their alma mater, which has a long tradition in the US where they live.

Deveda said: “The tradition of philanthropy in the UK is not as robust as in America but it doesn’t take a lot to get started. You can begin small and still have a big impact as the University can aggregate your gift with others to make a difference."

Alongside the pair’s financial support, Ernest has also been an active volunteer for Surrey and is a founder member of the Friends of the University of Surrey, established in the US to support teaching, research and student achievement, as well as facilitating donations.

He also for many years sat on the School of Engineering’s Advisory Board (as it was then called) using his expertise to help develop future strategy.

Ernest’s message to those considering making a gift to Surrey is simple: “It’s exciting to be associated with a relatively new university which is moving ahead and know that your contribution is helping people. Targeted giving allows a donor to see where their gift can make a difference and Surrey does a very good job of finding something that is of interest to each donor, developing it and making it feel special.”

Corporate giving: Graduate link forges engineering partnership

Surrey’s connection with Fluor, the global engineering and construction company, is helping us to train tomorrow’s chemical engineers.

The University has been running a chemical engineering programme for more than 100 years and has a strong reputation for producing highly trained, well-educated and professional graduates.

Ensuring that we have the best facilities is integral to producing quality engineers which is why support from Fluor, which stretches back more than a decade, is so important. The latest $300,000 gift from the company’s philanthropic division, the Fluor Foundation, will have a transformational effect on our undergraduate labs, helping to create a motivating and forward- thinking chemical engineering community.

Surrey graduate Nick Amott (BSc 1978) has worked at the organisation for more than 35 years and is a visiting professor at the University. A strong advocate for the Chemical and Process Engineering Department, he has played a big part in forging our relationship with the company and its UK office is just 30 minutes from the campus.

“When Fluor decided to increase its philanthropic support in the UK, I suggested Surrey as it seemed to be a perfect fit because of its reputation for producing well-rounded and experienced graduates,” said Nick. “Many alumni have or still work for us and we have been running a very successful professional training year placement with Surrey for a number of years.”

As well as this most recent funding, Fluor has also supported our internationally-renowned Hess Rig, now reconfigured and completely upgraded as the ‘Fluor Pilot Plant’, which gives students practical experience of running a real chemical company, using the equipment and technology found in industry.

The facility is so highly regarded that each summer the Nobel prize-winning Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sends delegates to Surrey from around the world to train as chemical weapons inspectors.

Nick is a firm believer in the benefits of linking education and industry: “The University is able to get a real understanding of the type of graduates needed in the industry and the skills required and we get access to a pipeline of talented students and the opportunity to engage with a wider network of people.

“I am very committed to and passionate about Surrey and believe that together we are helping to develop the next generation of engineers.”

Trust giving: New funding to improve horse welfare

One of the UK’s largest animal welfare charities has awarded more than £128,000 to the School of Veterinary Medicine to investigate heart rhythm abnormalities in horses.

The funding from Petplan Charitable Trust will potentially improve the health and welfare of thousands of race horses in the UK as well as those used for recreational riding.

The project is aimed at developing a low-cost non-invasive method of identifying horses at an increased risk of cardiac rhythm defects, using computational analysis of electrocardiograms (ECG).

Estimates suggest that there are at least one million horses and ponies in Great Britain, with approximately 14,000 in race training. Whilst cardiac rhythm abnormalities are more commonly diagnosed in racing thoroughbreds, the vast majority in the leisure horse industry may go undiagnosed, leading to health and welfare issues.

The team working on the project is unique as it involves a combination of veterinarians and medical staff, which supports our ‘One Health’ vision to provide interdisciplinary research and teaching in human and animal health.

Project lead Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam said: “This will hopefully be a low cost and reliable method of identifying horses at risk of heart problems. It will be accessible to not only specialist vets, but also those in general practice and going forward we hope it can be used to monitor the health of other animals, such as dogs, particularly greyhounds and boxers.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can support the School of Veterinary Medicine, please contact Chris Stevens at c.stevens:surrey.ac.uk or on +44 (0)1483 682873.

Legacy giving: Supporting the vets of the future

Charlotte Heath, pictured, is one of the many veterinary students who will benefit from a legacy by Kenneth Longhurst who wanted to ensure our undergraduates enjoy the best resources and facilities.

Kenneth wasn’t a Surrey alumnus but had heard about the School of Veterinary Medicine’s innovative approach to education. He wanted his gift to give our students the best opportunity to succeed and, in turn, make a real difference as 21st century vets.

Any gift – large or small – can have a tremendous impact on the University. To find out more about leaving a legacy in your will, please contact Kate Redrup on +44 (0)1468 689264.

Student support: Young entrepreneurs stand out from the crowd

Picured above is the Wates Social Enterprise judging panel of Andy King, Chris Kuchanny, Janet Preston and Andrew Wates with (centre) Sarah Helen King and Sarah Campbell.

As the graduate jobs market becomes ever more competitive, students are increasingly seeking skills and experiences that will help them stand out from the crowd.

At Surrey, we offer a variety of opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates to develop the enterprising spirit that is both valued by employers and vital if you want to start your own business.

Recent statistics from Santander Universities UK reveal that 24% of university students are running a business venture of some sorts, and figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reported there were 3,890 new graduate start-ups in 2015/16.

Budding entrepreneurs have access to a range of funding and advice, including the Student Enterprise Kick Starter Fund, which can provide seed funding of up to £500, and the Business Enterprise Student Support Scheme with up to £5,000 available to develop an entrepreneurial activity.

Students also benefit from the philanthropic support such as that from the Wates Family Enterprise Trust, an independent grant-making foundation, which has set up a social enterprise fund to help postgraduate researchers make their ideas reality.

The fund aims to foster innovative projects that contribute to society or help the environment. Students have the opportunity to pitch for an unsecured start-up loan from a pot of £20,000 to launch their initiative.

This year, two Health Psychology PhD students each received £5,000. Sarah Campbell has taken proven psychological principles for tackling mental health problems and translated them into a fun music-based smartphone game, called Tuning In, to improve emotional resilience.

Sarah Helen King will use the funding to develop InVigorise, a health and wellbeing social enterprise, which will help individuals to eat well, move more and feel better through a series of community-based workshops.

She said: “Invigorise will offer one-to-one coaching, and group workshops which address eating, exercise, managing stress and other barriers which modern life presents, using a psychological approach. It is aimed at building confidence and offering support to those who want to make a change, but may not necessarily know how to do this, or perhaps have tried dieting or joined a gym but have not had any success.

“The £5,000 investment will cover the start-up costs and, once the business is making a profit, this will help support the company to run free workshops aimed at key target groups which are at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions, such as obesity, which can be linked to their lifestyle.”

Innovation: Emotional intelligence in the travel sector

The advances in digital technology have revolutionised the way we live and do business and the world of travel is no exception.

As the use of technology in the travel industry continues to grow, the way tourists plan and book their holidays present greater challenges for companies.

How do you ensure your website catches the eye or your advertising campaign resonates with the public? And then there are the more unusual trends for people to engage with such as that of the Henn na Hotel in Japan that boasts to be the first staffed by robots.

In years gone by, this feedback would have been captured by surveys and questionnaires but today we have more sophisticated tools at hand – biometrics. The analysis of people’s physical and behavioural characteristics is gaining ground as a way to understand decision-making processes, and Surrey’s new Digital Lab is at the forefront of research in this area.

It forms part of the Digital Visitor Economy research group in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and is equipped with an integrated system of biometric sensor equipment including remote and mobile eye-tracking, facial expression, galvanic skin response (measuring the amount of sweat secreted) and optical heart rate monitors (using light to measure blood flow).

Using these biometric sensors, in addition to interviews and surveys, researchers are able to experiment with the latest technology applications in tourism, hospitality, and events.

Dr Iis Tussyadiah, Reader in Hospitality and Digital Experience, explained: “We use biometric research to understand how people react emotionally to various digital information. We’re looking at how tourism providers can tailor their messages in a more effective way to improve the customer experience and increase business.

“With surveys alone, people can think more about their answers and how they want to be perceived but biometric testing gives us their automatic response.”

Current research has focused on virtual reality and observing how customers respond to a robot managing their check-in experience at a hotel.

In the former, the researchers are investigating if people are more attracted to visiting a destination if they can visualise the potential holiday experience prior to booking, using heart rate and the levels of sweat to measure excitement and interest.

The second study assesses people’s reactions to being served by a robot through facial expression (for example, do they exhibit surprise, pleasure or disapproval?), eye-tracking, heart rate and skin response.

Digital technology is transforming the tourism landscape and Iis believes this opens up opportunities to connect with guests in a new way, understanding the emotions that underpin their decisions.

“We believe we can add value to the hospitality industry, advising on their customer approach,” said Iis. “Whether it is researching reactions to a particular website, the effectiveness of virtual reality or analysing acceptance of new practices, such as robots, the Digital Lab is ideally placed to work with the sector to increase competitiveness and customer experience.”

Volunteering: The value of time and expertise

Thank you to all of our alumni and friends who volunteer their time to support and enrich the experience of studying at Surrey and contribute to the University’s success.

From offering careers guidance to students to hosting alumni events, our volunteers make a real impact on the Surrey community.

Jaycee Feng, who graduated with an MSc in Tourism Management in 2013, is one of our international ambassadors who regularly volunteers at student recruitment events and alumni receptions in Singapore.

He said: “The little bit of commitment involved is insignificant compared to the education and opportunities that Surrey has given me. It has been my pleasure serving the University in this capacity.

Last year, over 500 amazing volunteers like Jaycee donated more than 2,000 hours of their time:

Inspiring our new graduates

In the last year we welcomed 11 alumni back to campus as inspirational guest speakers at our graduation ceremonies. They reflected on their own time as a student, where their Surrey degree has taken them and offered words of advice and encouragement to our newest graduates for the next chapters in their lives.

If you would like to be a potential speaker at a future graduation ceremony, please contact Rona Cheeseman on +44 (0)1483 683776 or email r.cheeseman@surrey.ac.uk

The gift of your story

An easy but valuable way to support Surrey is by sharing your student stories and your subsequent career path. This is a great opportunity to motivate our current and future generations of students and show them the options available.

How do we use alumni stories at Surrey?

International recruitment fairs - working with our student recruitment team to share Surrey experiences with potential future students.

Applicant events – alumni guest speakers and ‘networkers’.

University Open Days – subject marquee – sharing your student memories

I can honestly say it was the best time of my life at the University of Surrey, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Caroline Hardy, Psychology 2011

Recruitment webinars: alumni giving their perspective and answering questions on the University

ERASMUS – your experiences of studying and working in Europe to encourage future students to do the same

Alumni profiles – real life stories for our website/in our prospectus

Alumni Blog – new for 2016-17, we’re delighted to feature a graduate story every month. This content is used on our social media and the Surrey Alumni Hub

From the minute I walked through the door, staff reminded us and taught us that we were going to be the professionals of the future.
Michael Price, Music and Sound Recording 1990

Career talks – sharing your post-Surrey story and career expertise with current students

Public engagement - guest speakers for events, for example at our 50th anniversary Festival of Wonder.

My strongest memory is of spending time by the lake. This included lazy afternoon BBQs, night time events and even revising for exams.
Miranda Howell, Politics 2010

For more details on sharing your Surrey story, please contact Lucy Evans on +44 (0)1483 683148 or email l.a.evans@surrey.ac.uk.

We have the right volunteering opportunity for you!

Only 10 minutes to spare, a few hours or can support over days, weeks or months? We have a volunteering role ready made for you.

From Home:

  • Complete an online profile
  • Write a blog post, article or social media piece
  • Mentor a student
  • Take part in a webinar

From your workplace:

  • Offer a paid work placement or internship
  • Provide a venue for an event
  • Recruit a graduate

On campus:

  • Be an Open Day ambassador
  • Give a guest lecture
  • Offer advice at a careers workshop or networking event
  • Guide and mentor student start-up businesses

From afar:

Become an international ambassador, to:

  • Host an alumni reception
  • Be a point of contact for other graduates in your country
  • Support recruitment activity