An introduction

Friday 15 March 2019

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day and I hope everyone feels proud and inspired by the activities and initiatives implemented by our colleagues. I was delighted to host Professor Karen Cox, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent as part of the week’s events - not just in my capacity as Deputy Vice-Chancellor - but as a former colleague at Nottingham. We discussed the challenges facing universities and their leadership teams and Karen shared the progress she has made since joining Kent 18 months ago.

We have heard the news last week that Paul Boyle will be joining Swansea University and that I have been asked to take on the role of Acting Vice-Chancellor after Paul leaves. I am aware that the imminent departure of a Vice-Chancellor can cause disruption for the University community. It can be very easy to ‘stop and wait’ for the next Vice-Chancellor to take up the appointment. As Acting Vice-Chancellor, it will be my role to ensure that the University continues to run smoothly during a period of transition and, alongside this, I intend to engage both staff and students in creating the foundations for our new University strategic plan.

It is vital that we continue to progress our current plans and address the challenges that face the University:

  • We have a clear, short term delivery plan in place which we presented to Council in November. Teaching excellence, research excellence and effective student recruitment are our immediate and continued focus. I think that it is really important that we all work together to achieve our goals in these areas. More information about these priorities will be shared with you in the next few weeks.
  • We have reshaped the leadership team to improve performance in our core areas of activity and to ensure that we work effectively together in the best interests of the University.
  • We are taking a different approach to financial planning this year. Whilst we must continue to scrutinise and manage expenditure in this challenging environment, we need to move away from the rigid delivery of a ‘financial envelope’ and make certain that strategic budget planning is undertaken – ensuring that we invest to grow income as well as managing costs.
  • This Spring we will start the development of a new strategy for the University which will enable us to create a successful, vibrant and sustainable University for the future. We intend to establish a clear vision for the University, to develop a strong identity and to create a compelling reason for students, staff, partners and donors to engage with and join the University.

It is critically important that the leadership team is open, honest and transparent in everything that we do. I am now working with the team to increase and improve our communications and create the mechanisms for you to feedback and participate in our plans. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be visiting departments across the University to hear your views, listen to your concerns and to understand better both the challenges and the opportunities that face the University.

I look forward to seeing you over the coming weeks and discussing how, together, we can take the University to the next stage of its development.

All the best