All entries for October 2017
October 25, 2017
We’re currently waiting to hear if the University has been awarded Race Equality Charter Mark (RECM) status. The accreditation gives a framework to identify how we’re doing, and it provides confidence to people to show our commitment to continuing to improve diversity and inclusion.
For me, it runs far deeper than whether we secure this benchmark or not, however credible it undoubtedly is. Warwick has always sought to attract and support a diverse community. The University was built in 1965 to serve the local community; our multi-faith Chaplaincy has always been at our core; we received our first institutional Athena Swan award in 2010; we’ve held the HR Excellence in Research accreditation for the last four years; we have committed to paying the living wage; and last year we moved up 117 places in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. Each and every one of these indicators give a clear statement about the importance of inclusivity within our community. We are a global institution. It should go without saying that we respect and celebrate our differences, and that we are fundamentally committed to diversity. Recognition like RECM, and the value system that underpins this sort of indicator, is not easily won or maintained however, on a personal or organisational level.
It matters to me that we are open about what we still need to learn. Societal changes and attacks on our way of life, like the atrocities we’ve seen closer to home and further afield in Europe this year, drive fear and doubt. It can feel easier, sometimes, to turn the other cheek to unacceptable behaviours, to retain processes and systems that are unintentionally biased, to avoid debate or challenge on differences, or to default to language or habits that disguise what is, actually, racism or other very real prejudices – whether conscious or not.
I’m very hopeful we will receive RECM accreditation. Like many members of the University, I will feel proud, and reassured. We all want to think of Warwick as a welcoming, challenging, global, successful, institution. Regardless of whether we are successful in securing the RECM benchmark now, the challenge for all members of our community to continue to do more is as real as ever. We are in this learning space together.
October 18, 2017
Last night our University Chancellor, Baroness Catherine Ashton, hosted an event to celebrate our collaborations and partnerships within our region. It was also an opportunity to recognise the significant contribution of Sir Richard Lambert who stepped down as Warwick’s Chancellor at the end of last year.
On driving home, I reflected on how inspirational our student performances were - the University chamber choir and brilliant soloist Tom Slade. Even more than that, what made the event so enjoyable for me was the company of the people we had at the event.
The West Midlands region was truly represented, with local MPs, Vice-Chancellors from our neighbouring universities, senior figures in our local councils, local business leaders and colleagues leading major current projects like Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture. It highlighted to me the extent and depth of possibilities in our region.
As observed in the recent UUK report on the economic impact of higher education, it showed that the University has a vital role to play to contribute to regional social and economic growth and brought to mind that we do this best through relationships, partnership and respect for the contributions we can all make.
In the words of our new Chancellor as she discussed the current political challenges we all face ‘there is no single issue that can be solved alone, we need to be collaborators’ and from my perspective what better place to start than our region itself?
October 04, 2017
The last of our new undergraduate and postgraduate students for 2017/18 have enrolled – joining other newcomers who arrived at Warwick over the last few weeks for pre-sessional courses, the PGCE and the MBChB. Chris Ennew and I were pleased to be able to speak to many of them, and their parents and families, over Arrivals Weekend and the first few days of term. The inevitable increase in traffic aside, welcome week developments have been well received, and it is great to see campus so busy and vibrant. Thank you to all of you who work so hard to make sure these first weeks for our new and returning students are welcoming and supportive.
Our returning students will, I hope, see a number of improvements to the campus following engagement with them last year: including refurbishments in Ramphal and Milburn House to integrate teaching and learning technology, plus the development of social study space, improved café facilities and performance space at Westwood. Work continues – as always! - on other major developments across campus: the Goose Nest temporary theatre opens later this week and the Sports and Wellness Hub, NAIC and Mathematical Sciences buildings are progressing well.
For staff, we have a packed term ahead. We can look forward to our new Education Strategy being finalised and consultation beginning on our new Research Strategy. Both of these are key pillars in our institutional aspirations. I hope to be able to reflect further on our future goals following discussion at the University Council in October – the first meeting to be led by our new Pro-Chancellor, Sir David Normington.
We will learn the results of our submission for the Race Equality Charter Mark, and the results of Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture, and we will continue to engage in discussions in Brussels and Paris on research collaboration and mobility opportunities.
We will welcome a number of new senior colleagues including Professor Patrick Tissington as Academic Director (Employability and Skills), a new Chair of the Faculty of Arts, Academic Registrar and a new Director of Strategy and Policy and our new HR system, SuccessFactors will be ready to go online in the coming months.
All-staff meeting dates for the year are now confirmed, and Rachel Sandby-Thomas will also be holding coffee mornings around campus this year. We hope to see as many of you as possible at these events.
Best of luck for the term ahead.