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Birkbeck's Foundation Day dinner reflects on the power of Education

The College’s dedication to transforming lives and addressing social inequality through higher education was praised by keynote speaker Sir Harvey McGrath at the annual Foundation Day dinner.

Sir Harvey, philanthropist and impact investor, was welcomed by staff, alumni and friends of Birkbeck at this year’s dinner, hosted at Birkbeck’s Malet Street, where he delivered a passionate keynote address focused on the transformative powers of education.

Sir Harvey, Founding Trustee of New Philanthropy Capital and current Chair of the UK National Advisory Board on Impact Investing, spoke about social mobility and the importance of institutions like Birkbeck, saying: “It’s a pleasure and an honour to have been Chair of Governors at Birkbeck and it reinforces the strong conviction I’ve had about the power of education to change lives and communities.”

Sir Harvey has long been an advocate of the College, having recently stepped down as Birkbeck’s Chair of Governors after nine years. Sir Harvey’s guidance with the College’s objective to attract a bigger and more diverse body of students was celebrated in November 2019 when he was made an Honorary Fellow of the College. He was knighted in 2016, recognising his wider services to economic growth and public life.

Professor David Latchman CBE, Master of Birkbeck, and Baroness Bakewell, Birkbeck President, were present at the Foundation Day dinner, which is held each year as close as possible to 2 December - the date of the College’s foundation in 1823. This year, Professor Latchman reflected on how philanthropy is woven throughout Birkbeck’s history, commenting: “Philanthropy has underpinned some of our biggest achievements - from the founding of the College almost 200 years ago, to the establishment of the UK’s first Computer Science Department at Birkbeck to the creation of the Wohl Wolfson ToddlerLab. This is just as important today as it was 196 years ago, particularly in the face of a rapidly changing employment market that means that lifelong learning, and Birkbeck, are of increasing importance.”

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