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University of Manchester pay tribute to Alan Gilbert
Professor Alan Gilbert
Professor Gilbert was the University of Manchester's first president

The University of Manchester has used the sixth anniversary to pay tribute to former President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Gilbert.

Professor Gilbert, who died in July, had been due to deliver the 2010 Foundation Day Lecture.

Instead, the day has seen tributes given by current President, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese.

Professor Gilbert's portrait has also been hung in the Whitworth Art Gallery.

When the University of Manchester formed on Wednesday 20 October 2004 (from a merging of the Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST), Professor Gilbert became its first President and Vice-Chancellor.

He had previously served as Vice-Chancellor at two universities in his native Australia and his academic achievements saw him become an Officer of the Order of Australia (the Australian equivalent of the OBE) in January 2008.

Some are born Mancunian, some have it thrust upon them, and others like Alan Gilbert achieve it
Sir Richard Leese

He was in charge of the recent transformation of the University's campus, which has seen more than £600m of investment in its buildings, and oversaw an improvement in the institution's research performance and the establishment of new cross-disciplinary research institutes.

Professor Gilbert retired from his role at the University at the start of 2010, due to ill health, and died a few months later.

'A remarkable friend and mentor'

Writing his obituary, it was Professor Gilbert's passion for students that the current President, Professor Rothwell, drew particular attention to.

She wrote that "Alan cared passionately about students, believing them to be the life-blood of universities."

His concentration on the needs of his scholars was underlined by the topic of his planned Foundation Day lecture, which was titled 'It's the students, stupid.'

Speaking at the tribute event, Professor Rothwell said that "he will be remembered with enormous respect by everyone in the University and with great affection by all who worked with him closely."

"To me personally, he was a remarkable friend and mentor, with incredible insight, integrity and intelligence."

Council leader Sir Richard Leese added that "some are born Mancunian, some have it thrust upon them, and others like Alan Gilbert achieve it; in his time in this city, Alan achieved his true Mancunianism."

An online book of condolence for Professor Gilbert is open on the University of Manchester website.

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