UCL News


Lunch Hour Lecture review – Past, Present, Future: In Conversation with Professor Michael Arthur

2 December 2020

Student journalist Sophia Saeed (UCL Geography) reviews this Lunch Hour Lecture event, which saw Professor Michael Arthur in conversation with Dame Professor Hazel Genn, about his seven and a half years as Provost of UCL.

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur

After more than seven years at UCL, Professor Michael Arthur is stepping down from the role of President & Provost. 

This week I tuned into UCL’s Lunch Hour Lecture, which drew my attention to Professor Arthur’s past, present and future life achievements. Like every student, throughout university I focused on 1) studying and 2) socialising. I never really considered the operations behind my university experience until Michael Arthur’s work at UCL was highlighted to me. 

From his arrival in 2013, Professor Arthur has prioritised improving student satisfaction at UCL, demonstrated through the construction of the Student Centre, the drive to promote a multicultural university community, and his resilient leadership. This was particularly vivid during the first wave of the Coronavirus. During this time, staff and students were anxious about their education, health, employment and more. However, Professor Arthur knew that he had prioritise the needs of both students and staff. Alongside the senior team, he immediately reassured students of a no-detriment policy, created an effective teaching framework for the rest of the academic year and shifted the exam process to suit the unprecedented situation. Even now, he has contributed to organising high-quality virtual learning for my peers and me as well as ensuring that campus facilities stay open and safe. 

As a British Pakistani woman, it is inspiring to hear how senior leadership staff like Professor Arthur have promoted diversity and inclusion at UCL. When he joined in 2013, he recognised there were only two women on the senior leadership team at UCL, and for him, this was a symbol of much-needed change. To name just a few of his projects, he supported the de-naming of spaces named after prominent eugenicists at UCL and contributed extensively in getting UCL accredited by Athena SWAN and the Race Equality Charter. The two schemes aimed to improve the representation, progression and success of BME staff and students. However, he believes there is still much more to do regarding diversity and inclusion at UCL, mentioning the necessity to drive movements such as Black Lives Matter forward to transform university life for students.  

Professor Arthur’s motto as President & Provost was always to put students first and this has been exemplified throughout his time at UCL. As a student body, we may not have realised it, but Michael Arthur has shaped our entire university experience. We remain grateful for all of the time and effort he has put into making UCL diverse, innovative and one of the best universities in the world.