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The US Friends of Newcastle University Graduate Newsletter | Issue 10 | 2017/18



Welcome to Alma Matters Welcome to this edition of Alma Matters, Newcastle University’s newsletter for our US graduates and friends. Newcastle University has always sought to benefit society. In 1967, the University demonstrated this by awarding an honorary degree to Dr Martin Luther King in recognition of his significant contribution towards equality. 50 years later, this important day in the University’s history has been commemorated through Freedom City 2017, a city-wide programme of events across Newcastle. You can read more about these events in this edition. We also chat to this year’s recipient of the US Friends of Newcastle University Scholarship. Read why he chose to study at the University and – equally as important – his thoughts on the region! As ever, I would encourage you to keep in touch. By updating your details at, the University can keep you posted about events, projects and activities that you can get involved in.

With best wishes Anthony Hutchings, BA German 1965 President, US Friends of Newcastle University

Stay in touch! nclalumni @NCLAlumni alumni/linkedin NCLAlumni

Cover image: Actor Solomon Israel and a cast of volunteers recreate the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, as part of the Freedom on the Tyne event. Photo: Richard Kenworthy

US News Round-up

Honorary degree for Andrew J Young

Cancer patients get access to life-extending drug Ovarian cancer patients in America are now receiving a life-extending drug developed by scientists at Newcastle University. RubracaŽ exploits a defect in the cancer cell’s ability to repair normal wear and tear to its DNA to kill the tumour cells without unduly harming healthy cells. The drug has been approved in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is hoped the drug will soon get approval from the European Medicines Agency.

Politician and activist Andrew Young was bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) on Monday 13 November (see page 3). An ordained minister, he worked closely with Dr Martin Luther King in the 1960s, accompanying him to Newcastle University in November 1967. In politics, he has served as a US congressman, as ambassador to the United Nations and as Mayor of Atlanta. The Andrew J Young Foundation, of which he is Chairman, furthers his vision of inspiring leaders worldwide to work toward peace, prosperity and inclusion.

Recruiting coast to coast

Curve-eye-ture Scientists at Newcastle University, in partnership with the University of California, have developed a new method to grow curved human corneas. Research has revealed that corneal cells isolated from human donors and grown on curved surfaces arrange themselves in a very regular lattice-like organisation. This precise alignment gives the cornea an improved strength and transparency. This breakthrough could provide a solution for the shortage of donated human corneal tissues and a practical alternative to artificial plastic ones.

Lydia Robinson, Recruitment Manager (Americas), has been visiting numerous cities in the US to promote study in the UK and at Newcastle University. As part of BEST of U, a consortium of Russell Group universities which hosts information sessions throughout the US and Canada, she has visited San Francisco, Santa Monica, Pasadena, La Jolla, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, DC, Miami, Houston and Dallas. Alumni looking to get involved can contact Lydia at:


Freedom City 2017 Throughout 2017, a city-wide programme of events has been taking place to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s visit to Newcastle and the award of his honorary degree. On 13 November 1967, Newcastle University made the historic award of an honorary degree to Dr Martin Luther King Jr – the only UK university to do so during his lifetime. Dr King was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, by His Grace the Duke of Northumberland. Freedom City 2017 is a diverse programme of cultural, teaching and research projects exploring the themes of racism, poverty and war, about which Dr King spoke so movingly during his impromptu acceptance speech.


Freedom on the Tyne On Sunday 29 October, a great drama engulfed NewcastleGateshead, inspired by Dr King’s legacy and epic rights struggles, past and present, from across the globe. Starting in locations around the city, the event saw an uplifting climax on the Tyne Bridge bring the city to a standstill for a memorable and inspirational moment of light, sound and theatre.

Photo: North News & Pictures

his life – the global civil rights movement, overcoming racial prejudice and the struggle against apartheid. The ceremony was attended by guests who were present on the day 50 years ago and also included footage from the 1967 ceremony itself.

50th Anniversary Ceremony On Monday 13 November 2017, almost to the precise moment in time, a special Congregation ceremony in King’s Hall marked the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s honorary degree. At the event, Newcastle University awarded honorary degrees to Malorie Blackman OBE, Thomas Caulker, Archibald Sibeko and Andrew J Young. They were honoured in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the same ideals to which Dr King devoted

Photo: Richard Kenworthy

Two books were published to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s visit: Martin Luther King in Newcastle upon Tyne: The African American Freedom Struggle and Race Relations in the North East of England by Brian Ward, Professor in American Studies at Northumbria University, and The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King, featuring work from leading poets from both sides of the Atlantic.

Full details and highlights of Freedom City 2017 can be found at:


Transatlantic Exchanges Today’s students at Newcastle University have a variety of opportunities to study or work in the US as part of their studies. With over a dozen exchange partners, Newcastle’s students enrich their degrees by carrying out exciting research and developing their skills at various locations across North America. Newcastle University has an exchange programme with the University of Colorado ( 1 on the map), based in Denver for students of Civil Engineering.

Overlooking the Rio Grande, the University of Texas at El Paso 2 has an exchange agreement with Newcastle for students of Chemistry.


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In Lawrence, the University of Kansas 3 , founded in 1865, has exchange programmes in numerous subjects. St. Cloud State University 4 , Minnesota and the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign 5 offer various exchanges in the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as Science and Engineering. History students from Newcastle enjoy opportunities to study at Central Michigan University 6 , located in Mount Pleasant, which is one of the largest public universities in America.

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Further south in Michigan, Biomedical Sciences students enrich their degree by studying at Michigan State University 7 in East Lansing. Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis 8 is one of Newcastle University’s strategic partners with whom it has numerous activities as well as a number of exchanges across the Liberal Arts. Another strategic partner, the University of Pittsburgh 9 , located in Pennsylvania and established in 1787, also has recently signed an undergraduate exchange for Newcastle students in any discipline. Newcastle’s Engineering students can benefit from a Rowe-Textron Scholarship (bequeathed by former alumnus Brian Rowe) to undertake exchange programmes in any field of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio 10 . The State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) 11 is a prestigious research university in New York state which also welcomes Newcastle exchange students. The University of Maryland Baltimore County 12 offers exchanges specialising in natural sciences and engineering. Newcastle exchange students can also be found studying in northeast America, at the University of Vermont 13 in Burlington. A new exchange has also just been signed between Newcastle Law School and the University of California, Davis 14 .

Find out more about the University’s international priorities, partnerships and impact at:


From Kentucky to King’s Walk Examinations, like them or loathe them, are a necessary part of any academic degree. Fortunately for Newcastle students, the University’s scenic campus is a great place to unwind after all the revision and hard work. Following one of his first exams of the semester, Alma Matters strolled through campus with Joseph Crafton, one of this year’s US scholars, to find out about his studies so far and life in Newcastle.


Joseph, 21, is in his first year of a five-year Medicine and Surgery MB BS Honours programme. Originally from Spottsville in Henderson County, Kentucky, Joseph was keen to study in the UK and, in particular, Newcastle. ‘For a long time it has been my goal to work as a surgeon within the NHS,’ he says. ‘In the UK, the process of medical education is tied to the systems within which it is practised. I think that makes for better prepared and performing physicians. ‘The School of Medical Education here is always ranked highly. It provides a good balance between rural and urban medical exposure and I really like what the course offers.’ Like countless other students before him who moved to the region, Joseph now has an affinity for the North. ‘It is such a beautiful place to call home,’ he says. ‘I’d bring my entire family over here with me if I could. They’re missing out on such a wonderful part of the world.’

In between lectures and studying, Joseph is already planning how he will put his new skills and knowledge to use: ‘I want to become a paediatric surgeon eventually, but I’m looking forward to learning about all of the different specialties over the next few years first.’ Joseph’s scholarship was awarded by the US Friends of Newcastle University. ‘The scholarship has allowed me to focus more on my studies without being concerned about finances,’ he says. The scholarship contributes to tuition fees and is funded entirely through the generosity of the University’s graduates and friends in the US. ‘I want to say thank you to them,’ says Joseph. ‘I hope that in my career as a medical student and as a physician, I can make the University and its alumni proud while ensuring that those who follow after me do the same.’

such a wonderful feeling to know ❛thatIt isthere are people invested in ensuring that the educational experiences of subsequent generations are maximised and made accessible.

Find out more… To find out how to support scholarships and other activities from the US, visit:



targets exceeded The University’s 2017 intake saw more students from widening participation (WP) backgrounds admitted than ever before. This makes for a diverse and vibrant community on campus, but also leads to greater diversity within the workplace. Newcastle University places great emphasis on providing extra support for students from low income families, areas where few young people go to university, or young people who’ve experienced difficult circumstances. Tackling inequalities is one of our hallmarks. From our establishment in 1834 when our medical research helped to address the health inequalities that blighted the industrial city of Newcastle, the University has enjoyed a long tradition of championing social justice. 50 years ago, this was exemplified with Newcastle being the only UK university to honour Dr. Martin Luther King with an honorary degree during his lifetime. The UK Government sets diversity targets for all universities annually, but Newcastle University strives to do – and achieves – more than these minimum targets, and enrolled 915 WP students over a target of 800 in 2017. 62% of these students came through the University’s PARTNERS Programme, one of the UK’s largest supported entry routes, which focuses on potential in all its forms.


Evidence shows our PARTNERS students do just as well as others at University but national research demonstrates that such students are less likely to enter graduatelevel employment when they leave. But this is vital if we are to see real diversity in the professional workplace. In response, the University has developed Career Insights, a bespoke programme to build up confidence, networks, and work experience which includes high-profile employer workshops and projects, and a bursary to help with work placements and internship opportunities. The response has been fantastic with 80% of PARTNERS students feeling more confident in their job prospects. The University is now shortlisted for a prestigious Reimagine Education Award conferred annually at Wharton Business School in Philadelphia.

To find out how you can support, mentor or inspire current students, please contact:

Take time out

for your fellow alumni

As a holder of a Newcastle University degree, you are part of a uniquely defined community and, as Dan MacDonald, Deputy Director of Advancement, explains, a thriving alumni network creates a virtuous circle. Attending one of the University’s informal alumni events is a great way to meet fellow alumni living in your area and catch up on all the latest from campus. ‘Our events give alumni the opportunity to connect to one another and to discover the friendly community on their doorstep which may have been hidden from view,’ explains Dan. ‘We encourage alumni to see their network as a resource that they can contribute to and benefit from, and of course every year it grows in number and currency.’

‘The Newcastle experience gives alumni common ground,’ says Dan. ‘From that comes an openness to sharing expertise, experience, and perspectives, on topics from sector insights to career development tips.’ Over recent months, the University has hosted events in New York, Boston and San Francisco. ‘Recent trips to the US have led to alumni offering to host their own alumni gathering which is fantastic,’ says Dan. ‘If any graduate is looking to organise their event, they should get in touch and we can support them.’

Look out for future event invitations by e-mail. If you have recently moved, please take a moment to update your details at so we don’t miss you. To find out how we can help you organise your own event, please contact


US Graduates – Get involved! From Anchorage to Atlanta, and from Phoenix to Portland, wherever our US graduates are based, they can help shape the future of their university.

Events Newcastle University’s ongoing events programme in the US provides our graduates with opportunities to network and build contacts, alongside our popular and informal alumni mixers.

International Alumni Representative

Achievement Awards Newcastle University is introducing an annual awards scheme in acknowledgement of the outstanding achievements of our graduates. We invite nominations for alumni living in the US: http://go.ncl.

Alumni profiles

Career insights

Since our last edition, we have been delighted with the number of US graduates who have shared a profile with us. Why not share yours too and inspire current students? http://

Whatever your career path, your experiences can shape the careers and future employability of our current students. Get in touch to find out more.

From volunteering as an incountry alumni representative or hosting alumni events, we are always interested to hear from anyone who is able to help shape the graduate experience.

Taking part…?

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ate? Please take a moment to update your details with us at: .uk/alumni/ intouch By doing so , you will be first to hear about all our upco m ing events and activities.

NU Advancement, Newcastle University, King’s Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)191 208 7250 | E-mail: Designed by: GDA, Northumberland. Printed by: Statex Colour Print, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Alma Matters 2017-18  
Alma Matters 2017-18  

The US Friends of Newcastle University Newsletter