Chancellor, Lord Provost, graduands, honorary graduands, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by welcoming you all to our Graduation ceremony, and to those of you who are visiting Dundee for the first time I’d like to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the city and the University of Dundee.

You have arrived in one of 2018’s ‘must visit’ places around the world – a status accorded Dundee by no less than the Wall Street Journal, Lonely Planet, CNN, The Guardian and others. So you are all trend setters, and we are delighted to see you here.

These are exciting times for the city and a sign that we are firmly on the rise.

Much of this current excitement, of course, has grown around the opening of V&A Dundee, housed in Kengo Kuma’s magnificent building at the heart of our waterfront. This was an idea that first originated here at the University of Dundee – to bring the V&A to the city.

We have worked with local and national partners to make it happen. It is a project that is already transforming the city. And that is the core of our mission and belief here at the University, transformation.

We aim to transform lives, by the creation, sharing and application of knowledge.

To the fore of that are you, our students – and soon to be graduates.

I hope that in your years here you have experienced that sense of transformation.

You will have gained new knowledge and skills that you can now take into the world. You will have found new friends, possibly even your life partners. You cross this stage today with the next stage of your life before you, and I hope your time here at Dundee has equipped you to take that step with confidence and a spirit of adventure – to be bold, to be creative, to be innovative and to make your own impact.

This is the most important day in our academic calendar. Seeing you, our new graduates, cross the stage after your years of dedication and hard work is a proud moment for us all, as I’m sure it is for all of you, and for the family and friends here to support you today.

We hope you remain part of our community as alumni after you leave this hall today. We are proud that we have been able to offer you teaching and a student experience which is consistently ranked among the very best in the United Kingdom.

In the inaugural Teaching Excellence Framework, the assessment of teaching quality for UK universities, we received a Gold award, the highest possible.

Our research creates impact around the world, from discovering new drugs to tackle diseases like malaria, to shaping policy for nurses and midwives around the world.

Our community is, increasingly, an international one. Our roots are distinctly Scottish but we work on a global stage.

We have students and staff who come to Dundee from over 140 countries – that’s nearly three quarters of the countries of the world.

With record numbers of applications to come and study here, distance learners everywhere from the US to Kenya to New Zealand, and pioneering partnerships with universities in China, Singapore and elsewhere, it’s clear that our outlook will be ever-more international in the future.  

Many of the nationalities that make up our community will undoubtedly be represented in the hall today.

Every one of these achievements is driven by the strong sense of community that exists here. You will have experienced this yourselves during your studies with us, and I hope you continue to feel part of it in the years to come.

At the University of Dundee, community is central to our strategy. It is at the heart of everything we do, and our graduates are an important part of that community. As global ambassadors with a lifelong membership of the University of Dundee, you should always consider that this is your University. Take pride in that membership, and share your passion for the University and connection to the city of Dundee in the years ahead.

Hopefully everyone visiting for today’s ceremony can take the opportunity to see a little more of the city while they are here – and maybe even spread the word about Dundee when they are back at home!

As you receive your degrees and then step out into the world, as a graduate and ambassador for the University of Dundee, know that we, your University community of fellow graduates, students and staff, wishes you the very best for the future.

This is the last time I shall have the privilege of giving this speech at Graduation, as I retire as Principal of the University at the end of this year. It has been the greatest of honours not just to lead this University, but in particular to be part of the Graduation ceremonies every summer and winter. These have been my favourite days in the University calendar. I will remember them fondly long after I have left.

Thank you everyone, and congratulations.

Pete Downes
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

V&A Dundee image by HuftonCrow