Creative venture

Michael Harloe prepares for his retirement proud to have put Salford at the centre of a unique global media development

June 18, 2009

Michael Harloe retires as vice-chancellor of the University of Salford this summer. But he leaves behind him what he considers to be "one of the most significant events in the university's history".

The University of Salford is the second organisation, after the BBC, to acquire space at MediaCityUK - a large media development project overlooking Salford Quays.

Professor Harloe will have been at Salford for 12 years this summer, having stayed on an extra year to help establish the venture. "It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise the profile of the university nationally and internationally. MediaCity is planned to be a globally significant development, and Salford will be the university at the heart of it."

The development, which is set to open in September 2011, will house a broadcast zone, a digital media zone, a virtual laboratory, a digital performance space and creative spaces.

Professor Harloe said: "It's been very much a key project for me as vice-chancellor over the past few years, as has the radical modernisation of the university's governance and management, which has put us in a position to take advantage of the MediaCityUK development and raise the performance of the university."

The BBC intends to move its sport, future media and technology, children's, and children's learning departments to the development. In addition, Radio 5 Live and all local and network broadcasting currently based in Manchester will also move in.

The university has a partnership agreement with the BBC that includes training and placements for students. It has also said that it wants an "ambassadorial presence alongside the BBC at Salford Quays".

Professor Harloe said that he hoped the development would attract more students from across the UK to Salford, which still takes most of its home undergraduates from the local area.

"One part of me would still like to be here leading, but as one of the longest-serving vice-chancellors I know that all good things have to come to an end," he said.

Before being appointed to Salford in 1997, Professor Harloe was dean of social sciences and pro vice-chancellor (research) at the University of Essex. He was also founding editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and is a member of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences.

Despite his impending retirement, he said he would not be bowing out entirely. "I'm going to keep involved, at least to some extent," he said.

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