August 3, 2015, by Emma Lowry
Anniversary in photos: Provost’s early Malaysia memories
Today we have almost 700 staff at our Malaysia campus, but we started out 15 years ago on a much smaller scale. Some of us came on secondment from the UK (where I’d been Deputy Director of the Business School) and others joined from Malaysian universities.
When the Vice Chancellor asked me to come to Malaysia it was an opportunity not to be missed. Not many of us get the chance to be involved in starting a University campus from scratch and to be able to do so in such an interesting and exciting part of the world was a once-in-a-lifetime chance!
The Business School, or as it was called then ‘Division of Business and Management’ opened with just five academic staff (myself, Jim Devlin, Rob Hoffman, Lee Chew Ging and Bala Ramasamy).
We were ably supported by Amy Justin and Regina Eruthayam (who is now disability liaison officer in our School of Education) who provided essential administrative support.
Looking back at this photo (above), both Chew Ging and I looked a lot younger (hopefully we’re still recognisable)! It was taken in the year 2000 in the Business and Management section of the Wisma MISC building – our original campus site, at one time a disused office complex in central Kuala Lumpur.
As well as moving location to our purpose-built Semenyih campus in 2005, a few other things have changed since then – Chew Ging is now the Dean of Nottingham University Business School (NUBS) Malaysia and I’m Provost at UNMC.
The months before we admitted our first students (mid-September 2000) were both daunting and exciting. We’d gained access to Wisma MISC in June and operated from the sixth floor (which eventually became the library).
Meanwhile, floors one and two were converted for the use of central administration, business, electrical engineering and computer science.
The transformation from abandoned open-plan offices to lecture theatres, laboratories and seminar rooms within the space of 10 weeks was quite remarkable. In the photo below you can see the original campus with the iconic Petronas Towers soaring towards the sky in the background.
When the students arrived on 16th September 2000, everything was pretty much in place – including a small gym for student and staff use and student social space.
The previous three months had been really quite exhilarating (and nerve-wracking). No two days were ever the same; I could be meeting with the University’s legal and financial advisers one minute then framing and hanging pictures to brighten up social spaces the next.
There were photocopiers and computers to be sourced, merchandise to be commissioned, brochures to be produced and systems to be put in place for just about everything.
Student recruitment was naturally at the forefront of activity and for the ex-pat staff, this provided a very early opportunity to do some travelling around Malaysia (not that we ever stayed still long enough to find out about the places that we visited)!
And of course, there was a library to be stocked. My first ever visit to the shopping mecca, MegaMall, was in the company of our newly-appointed Librarian – Khan Quay Kin – who gave us the freedom of the MPH book store (the UK-equivalent of Waterstones) and a shopping trolley!
Despite our pre-launch nerves, we were eager and ready to become the UK’s first fully-fledged overseas campus. On the day, we welcomed some 80 students for our first intake, with the Vice Chancellor flying in from Nottingham especially to meet and greet them. Immense pride and a great sense of relief all round!
If you have memories to share of working or studying at UNMC, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up with the 15th anniversary celebrations of the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, using #UNMC15 on Twitter between July and September 2015.