UCL Campaign


Provost Michael Arthur honoured for advancement leadership 

1 September 2017


UCL has won a hat-trick of top awards for excellence for its philanthropic fundraising from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) including the prestigious Leadership Award for President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur.

The international Circle of Excellence Awards recognise superior accomplishments in the world of university philanthropy, showcasing approaches to fundraising that deliver exceptional results. In addition to Professor Arthur’s Leadership Award, UCL has won a Gold Award for its Philanthropy Month 2016 initiative and a Silver Award for the bold branding of its new £600m fundraising and engagement Campaign, launched in September 2016.

The Awards are timely, according to Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Development), because this Campaign marks a sea-change in UCL’s journey from a university that carries out fundraising to a fundraising university.

“Philanthropy has always been a really important strand of funding for UCL and has been a big part of building us into a university that makes a major impact on lives and societies globally,” she said. “That we are now in a position to launch such an ambitious Campaign reflects how far UCL has come in having an institutional approach to philanthropy that means our fundraising is allied directly to our long-term strategy. I’m delighted that our innovative approaches have been recognised by CASE and in particular that Michael Arthur is being recognised, since his leadership has been absolutely key in getting us to such a strong position.”

The Campaign for UCL launched in autumn 2016 with a range of public, donor and alumni events in London and internationally and Professor Arthur was a highly visible leader throughout, having consistently and enthusiastically championed philanthropy since becoming UCL’s President & Provost in 2013. Professor Arthur is himself a major donor, talking with conviction about why he enjoys supporting UCL, and working to ensure that the whole university speaks the language of fundraising, understands its importance and is committed to the cause.

He said: “The thing I love most about my role at UCL is working with people who really make a difference. Our students, staff and alumni are amongst the finest in the world so it makes sense that they attract supporters who are equally visionary. It is humbling to spend time with donors and see their passion for improving lives in many different ways. I am delighted by this recognition from CASE, but the award really belongs to all of our community who together are making important things happen.” 

In a video to mark the award, Sir Eric Thomas, former vice chancellor of Bristol university and a former winner of the award, praised Professor Arthur for demonstrating the leadership needed for UCL to be a successful fundraising institution, describing what he had done at UCL as a “master class” in how to mount a campaign: “It comes from having the vision, from making sure the team is behind you and from having social skills in being able to persuade donors that UCL is the best place for them to invest.”

Also in the video, Michelle Calvert, director of development at Leeds University where Professor Arthur was previously vice chancellor, said he had galvanised the university’s alumni with his vision for development activities which had been, until then, an unrealised opportunity. She said Professor Arthur had left a real legacy of involvement and financial support for Leeds: “You built the foundations and relationships that will see the University of Leeds to great success for the future.”

To view the full video, please visit our YouTube channel by following the link here.

Central to the profile of UCL’s Campaign is its bold branding led by the strapline It’s All Academic. The creation of this name and the wider brand was a UCL-wide collaboration to tell the story of what makes UCL unique – radical, rebellious and set up to do things differently. The playfulness of the brand has seen it become a popular part of alumni and other Campaign events, for example by using props to recreate different aspects of it for selfies.

Lori added: “We wanted to use the UCL brand but create something new and instantly eye-catching that immediately expresses the excitement and dynamism of UCL. We love the boldness and creativity of the branding and I’m really pleased it’s captured so many imaginations worldwide.”

The It’s All Academic Campaign branding was created in partnership with Lambie Nairn. To see photos of all the Campaign launches, please visit the UCL Alumni Flickr account here.

UCL’s third CASE Award recognises Philanthropy Month 2016, a month-long programme of activities spear-headed by the alumni relations team to engage students and alumni with what philanthropy means for UCL. One particularly popular initiative was UCL Heroes – a super hero theme across the month during which students and alumni around the world nominated their UCL hero and dressed up in costumes to promote them. Executive Head of Alumni Relations James Davis explains:

“Students and alumni are massively important parts of UCL’s community and we wanted to get them excited about the Campaign and what philanthropy does for UCL right from the start. This was an ambitious thing to try but it got really big involvement not just on campus but in alumni groups throughout the world and ended up with a momentum of its own, which is exactly what we wanted. Being part of the UCL community is a lifelong thing – it doesn’t end for students when they graduate. Philanthropy Month was a fun, interactive way to show students and alumni how they can support UCL and each other in a variety of ways, not necessarily just financial.”


The CASE Circle of Excellence Awards 2017 were presented at the annual CASE Conference in Birmingham. Professor Arthur received his award – a Tiffany crystal disc on a plinth - at the gala dinner on Thursday from Sue Cunningham, President and Chief Executive Officer of CASE. She singled out his energetic leadership in developing what is set to be the largest such campaign undertaken by a British university outside Oxford and Cambridge. She also cited the “prodigiously successful” campaigns at Leeds University including its first annual giving programme and first campaign since 1925.

The award recognised educational leaders for their “outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting education,” she added. Previous winners of the leadership award have included Sir Eric Anderson, former provost of Eton College, Brett Wigdortz, chief executive officer and founder of Teach First, the late Professor Paul Webley, former director and principal of SOAS and Professor Richard Trainor, former principal of King’s College, London.