University of  Sussex MEDIA RELEASE

The Information Office, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RH.

7 October 1997

Sussex Vice-Chancellor to head Rockefeller Foundation

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gordon Conway, has been appointed President of the US Rockefeller Foundation, based in New York and will leave the University in March 1998.

Professor Conway (aged 59) has been Vice-Chancellor of the University since 1992. He is the first non-American to lead the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Rockefeller Foundation, endowed in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, is one of the oldest philanthropic foundations in the USA. Currently the value of its endowment is nearly $3 billion and it makes grants of about $210 million a year. Unlike other American foundations the majority of these grants are made to overseas institutions and individuals. It thus aspires to be a truly global foundation.

The Foundation's core themes encompass agriculture, with a special emphasis on biotechnology, energy and the environment; population and health sciences, the latter including the prevention and cure of AIDS; and arts and the humanities. A major African programme targets female education. In the USA are programmes which address the creation of job opportunities and improvements in public education for urban communities.

Professor Conway was formerly Ford Foundation representative for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and is currently Chair of the Runneymede Trust's commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia which is due to report in late October. His book "The Doubly Green Revolution: food for all in the 21st century" will be published by Penguin Books in November. Professor Conway is a world renowned agricultural ecologist who has worked and lived in numerous countries, including India, Malaysia and Thailand. For twelve years he was an administrator, director and professor at Imperial College of Science Technology & Medicine where he developed an interdisciplinary centre for environmental education. In the 1970s he helped set up similar centres in Sudan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. He has written over 100 papers, monographs and books on applied ecology, resource and environmental management and international development.

"We are in the midst of far-reaching technological revolutions - in biotechnology, information technology and energy transformation, to name a few, " said Professor Conway, "While exciting, these technological advances pose major social, economic, political and ethical questions; and hint of the potential threat of tremendous global inequities," he added.

Professor Conway points out that the global integration of communication, finance, governance and technology can be used to alleviate hunger, illness and suffering , or it can be seized in wasteful ways to benefit the already rich. "The Rockefeller Foundation is, in creative ways, helping those in need around the world to improve their lives," he believes.

"I'm especially intrigued by how global integration is increasing contact among groups that were previously distant. Most countries, including Britain and the United States, are having to adapt to becoming far more multicultural. We need to learn to harness the experiences of diverse cultures, religions and ethnic groups to begin to solve the fundamental problems of poverty, illness and cruelty.

"Foundations are critical to helping resolve some of these issues in thoughtful, effective ways. Among foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation is clearly a world leader," Professor Conway said.

"Because of this direction and due to the foundation's solid history of success in harnessing modern science and technology to benefit people throughout the world, I'm honoured to become its next president."

Notes for Editors:

The University of Sussex has over 9,000 students and approximately 2,200 members of staff, annual expenditure is approximately M75. The University of Sussex is a major research institution. In the recent national assessment the University ranked seventh for the percentage of research-active staff in groups ranked 5 and 5*. A total of eighty-three percent of academic staff at Sussex work in subject groups with ratings of 4 and 5, indicating research of national and international standing. The University ranks twelfth (on average weighted rating) in the recent HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise. It has also received high ratings in the recent rounds of the HEFCE Teaching Quality Assessment. The latest subjects to be assessed, History of Art and French, scored 20 and 22 points respectively, out of a possible 24. Four of the five subjects assessed under this new scheme have scored 20 or more points, with Sociology achieving the maximum score. Under the 'old' scheme, Music, French and Social Anthropology were judged 'Excellent'.


For further information contact Sue Yates, Information Officer on Tel. 01273 678384. Fax 01273 678335. email S.M.Yates@sussex.ac.uk