Swansea University celebrated the achievements of the three winners of its inaugural Chancellor’s Award, during graduation ceremonies held in Swansea Arena.
The new Award recognises staff and students who have made an outstanding contribution to the life, reputation, or impact of the University, with this year’s theme focusing on Swansea University’s role as a champion for heritage and culture in Wales.
One of the two winners in this year’s Staff category was a team from Academi Hywel Teifi, a unique institution established by Swansea University in 2010, to provide a centre of excellence for studying the Welsh language, to promote Welsh-medium teaching and research and to ensure a greater status for the Welsh language in all aspects of life within south-west Wales.
Team members Lauren Evans, Dr Gwenno Ffrancon, Lynsey Thomas and Saran Thomas were presented with the Chancellor’s Award in recognition of their work to firmly establish GwyddonLe (Science Place) as a highly successful attraction at the Urdd’s National Eisteddfod.
Each year, at GwyddonLe, the Academi Hywel Teifi team brings together Swansea academics and students from across the branches of science and technology to invite young people and their families to experience the thrill of the latest discoveries, conduct scientific experiments, and hear about the diverse experiences of University staff and students.
GwyddonLe is a unique cultural contribution to Wales by Swansea University; it is the only university-led science offering of its kind at the Eisteddfod and its programmes attract approximately 35,000 visitors each year, considerable media attention, and the support of many other organisations.
This year’s other Chancellor’s Award winner in the Staff category was Dr Alex Langlands, Senior Lecturer in History, in the School of Culture and Communication, for the project: Copper Crucibles: Art, Chemistry and Heritage in the Swansea Valley.
This project sprung from a revival of interest in Swansea’s copper heritage and resulting research by several Swansea Academics. It brings together the expertise of a historian (Dr Langlands), a local ceramic artist (Esther Ley) and a Swansea University chemist (Dr Ian Mabbett).
Excavations of the Morfa Copperworks site have uncovered a number of small ceramic crucibles, which had been used in ‘assaying’ the copper content during the smelting process and consequently were left with attractive colourful glazes. This provided the basis for the project: exploring the process of chemistry colour redox; production of creatively inspired replicas; and uncovering the rich industrial heritage of the region.
This cross-sector project benefits from the support of local schools and community groups; the homelessness charity, Crisis; archeology and heritage companies; the National Waterfront Museum (which hosted a six-week exhibition of the 'copper crucibles' made by the participants in the programme, from Crisis and other groups), and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The third Chancellor’s Award for 2022 was presented to the winner in the Student category, Grug Muse. Grug is a Swansea University research student, working in the Welsh Department within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and has been supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
During her time at Swansea University, Grug has not only produced her own academic work and written poetry to great acclaim but has also contributed significantly to the promotion of Welsh literature, both locally and internationally.
Grug is a notable and exciting poet, who has already published two volumes of her own work. In July this year, she won the Welsh-language poetry category in the Wales Book of the Year awards for her collection Merch y Llyn. As co-founder and co-editor of a Welsh-language press, Cyhoeddiadau'r Stamp, she has been able to nurture and stimulate new voices, and to bring a new impetus to the Welsh and wider literary world. Through two magazines, the original Y Stamp, and more recently Ffosfforws, Grug has given many other young and diverse voices the opportunity to develop, gain confidence and see their work published.
Presenting this year’s awards, Professor Dame Jean Thomas, Chancellor, said: “Very many colleagues and students at Swansea University have contributed significantly to heritage and culture in Wales over the years. Indeed, several of our most celebrated academics have spent their professional lives with precisely that mission.
We knew the choice for this inaugural award was going to be difficult, and it certainly was. However, I am confident that, through their work, this year’s winners display a real passion for the culture and heritage of Wales and, importantly, have inspired and provided opportunities for a whole new generation.”
The theme for next year’s Chancellor’s Award will be related to sustainability.