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Britain’s first University Historian at Manchester

13 Sep 2013

The University of Manchester has appointed the UK’s first University Historian and Heritage Officer.

James Hopkins
James Hopkins

Dr James Hopkins takes up the position following his previous role as a researcher in history and becomes an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

James studied History and Politics at Nottingham and Newcastle universities before working in Communications. He completed his PhD on the history of academic institutions and their impact on policy.    

James said: “I am delighted to be taking on such a significant role at the University – my role exists at some universities overseas, especially in the US, but as far as we know mine is the only such current full-time role in the UK.

“It’s our history that makes us the institution we are today – we’re able to build on our past for future research, and we can engage prospective and current students, staff, alumni and our communities with what we do. For example, Coupland Street, which cuts right through campus, is where the world’s first stored program computer was switched on and the atom was split – events that led to the nuclear and information age.

“Whilst research and teaching is obviously at the core of our history, we’re also really interested in the diverse social histories of our staff and students, and our engagement with the city. I’m a local lad and my family history is infused with the ‘cottonopolis’ and the industrial revolution, so I’m really interested in how the University and city have grown together. By making a long term commitment to our history and heritage, we’ll be able to provide lots of ways for all the University’s different communities to understand and engage with our shared past.”

James’s full-time role builds on the University’s considerable progress on heritage work to date, and highlights the University’s long-standing reputation for ground-breaking research and scholarship. Current heritage projects at the University include campus tours, displays, lectures, publications and research on the University’s history, including student life and civic involvement.

Notes for editors

Jon Keighren, Media Relations manager, The University of Manchester 0161 275 8384