December 2015

The Countess of Wessex officially opens McIntyre House at University College Birmingham

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Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex today officially opened McIntyre House, a spectacular new centre for higher education and postgraduate study at University College Birmingham. 

The Countess unveiled a commemorative plaque and met former Principal Dr Eddie McIntyre CBE, in whose honour the £26 million building is named.

The University’s students took centre stage for a day of celebrations in which the achievements of academic staff past and present were recognised. 

The Countess was escorted on a tour of McIntyre House, in the historic Jewellery Quarter, by University College Birmingham (UCB) Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Ray Linforth. She also met informally with a range of students.  

Two of the new building’s study facilities, The Edward Pargeter Suite and the Brendan Carroll Lecture Theatre, celebrate the legacy of respected UCB academics. Edward, a lecturer and manager of business and marketing programmes, passed away in 2008 and finance lecturer Brendan Carroll died in 2011. The Countess met members of the two lecturers’ families during her tour of the Holland Street site and was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Anna Pargeter, daughter of Edward.

She was also invited to look at plans for UCB’s next stage of expansion, the ambitious Phase 2 redevelopment of Holland Street, which will see a former industrial site transformed into a £65 million centre for academic study, innovation and commerce. 

The 160,000sq ft Phase 2 project, more than double the size of McIntyre House, will feature 50 new classrooms, five 100-seat lecture theatres and Skill Street, a “finishing school” comprising retail units where students will be offered real-life work opportunities. 

The Countess attended a special lunch hosted by Zoey Harris, President of the Guild of Students, and chatted to student representatives from across UCB’s further education, higher education and postgraduate courses. 

Dr McIntyre became the youngest principal of a UK further education college when he took charge of the then Birmingham College of Food and Domestic Arts at the age of 36 in 1983. 

During his tenure, the institution underwent a sustained period of growth, expanded into the higher education sector, launched successful international student recruitment, acquired new sites for teaching and student accommodation, and garnered a string of prestigious teaching accolades. 

Dr McIntyre, who was made a CBE for services to further and higher education, stepped down as Principal in 2008, the year after UCB was given taught degree awarding powers. He retains strong links with the University. 

Dr McIntyre said: “I am deeply honoured to have my name attached to UCB’s amazing new centre for undergraduate and postgraduate study. During my time at UCB, I was fortunate to work with an outstanding management team and a hugely supportive governing body. McIntyre House is a tribute to their unstinting dedication.” 

Prof Linforth said: “We are delighted and honoured to have the Countess of Wessex officially open McIntyre House. UCB is committed to improving the life chances of all our students, from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, and in McIntyre House we have a facility worthy of delivering our industry-respected vocational degree courses. 

“This splendid building, featuring leading design and technology, is also a fitting way to recognise the legacy of Eddie McIntyre. All of us who had the pleasure, and the stamina, to work with Eddie as Principal believe that naming Phase 1 as McIntyre House is entirely appropriate for a man who did so much to make UCB what it is today.” 

Nigel Moss, Chancellor of UCB, paid tribute to Dr McIntyre for transforming the fortunes of UCB. He said: “An organisation that lacked purpose became focused on ensuring the institution's viability in all its operations, fully engaged with the communities and industries it serves. In name and spirit, the new McIntyre House recognises Eddie's rich legacy as well as the immense contribution of others.”

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