2016: a year in review

2016: a year in review

  • Professor Stephen Toope
    International law scholar and the next Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope

2016 was another busy year at the University. From the announcement of the next Vice-Chancellor to the 600th anniversary of the University Library, we select six Cambridge stories to bring you up-to-speed with an engrossing 366 days.

Professor Stephen Toope appointed as Vice-Chancellor

On 7 October, international law scholar Professor Stephen Toope was appointed as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University. Professor Toope will take over from Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz on 1 October 2017.

Professor Toope is Director of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and formerly served as president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia. He is an alumnus of Trinity College, where he completed his PhD in 1987. Professor Toope is a scholar specialising in human rights, international dispute resolution, international environmental law, the use of force, and international legal theory with degrees in common law (LLB) and civil law (BCL) with honours from McGill University (1983). 

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Cambridge welcomes Dr Jessica Gardner as new University Librarian

Dr Jessica Gardner has been revealed as the new Librarian of Cambridge University Library – becoming the second female in the history of the institution to hold the role.

Dr Gardner said: “I am delighted to have been elected as Cambridge University’s Librarian and to have the opportunity to build on the success of a long line, over 600 years, of my predecessors, most recently the wonderful Anne Jarvis. It will be an honour to join Cambridge and to lead one of the world’s great research and copyright libraries, rich with world heritage treasures.”

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Cambridge University Library celebrates 600 years 

Older than the British Library and the Vatican Library, Cambridge University Library (UL) was first mentioned by name in two wills dated March 1416. The UL now holds nine million books, journals, maps and magazines – as well as some of the world's most iconic scientific, literary and cultural treasures.

As one of only six Legal Deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland, Cambridge University Library has been entitled to a copy of every UK publication since 1710. But it also predates the era of most modern museums and collections, meaning that over the centuries, it has been a depository for all manner of objects, all of which have a part to play in telling the story of one of the world’s greatest libraries.

Read more about the exhibitions celebrating the UL's anniversary

New home for Cambridge rowing opens

The new Cambridge University Boathouse was officially opened on 3 December - giving the three University boat clubs a new home, the first time that they have all been under the same roof.

The boathouse, on the River Great Ouse in Ely, was opened by Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, and represents the culmination of close to a decade’s work by volunteers, rowers and alumni. Plans for a new boathouse were started in 2008, with the construction itself taking two and a half years.

Read more and watch an interview with former Cambridge Blue and gold-medal winning Olympian George Nash

Cambridge alumni win Nobel Prizes

In October, three alumni of the University were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work in the field of condensed matter physics.

David Thouless (Trinity Hall 1952), Duncan Haldane (Christ’s 1970) and Michael Kosterlitz (Gonville and Caius 1962) discovered unexpected behaviours of solid materials - and devised a mathematical framework to explain their properties. Their discoveries have led to new materials with an array of unique properties.

Days later, Professor Oliver Hart, a former undergraduate at King’s (1966), and a former Fellow of Churchill College, was jointly awarded the 2016 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences, along with Bengt Holmström of MIT. Their work in the field of contracts was described as: 'valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design'. Professor Hart became the 96th Cambridge affiliate to be awarded a Nobel Prize.

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Record-breaking year in philanthropic support for Cambridge celebrated

The Vice-Chancellor celebrated the power of collegiate Cambridge and the importance of philanthropy in his annual address on 1 October. The University had the most successful fundraising year in its history, with more than £210 million raised.

The record sum was raised in a combined effort by the University and 31 Colleges as part of the £2 billion 'Dear World… Yours, Cambridge' campaign, which focuses on the University’s impact on the world.

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