Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

VC visits Campus Retail & Commercial Operations

  , ,

📥  Visits to departments

The Vice-Chancellor’s latest visit began in the slightly unusual surroundings of the Fresh Grocery Store.

Ryan McCormick, Store Manager, explained the layout of Fresh highlighting two of its ‘focus areas’ - a tempting range of fruit and veg and a variety of freshly baked goods from the in-store bakery.

Dame Glynis commented: “When I’m having a tough day I come down and grab a Danish pastry. So if you see me buying one, please be nice to me.”


Ashley Barnes, Food Services Co-ordinator, gives Dame Glynis a guided tour

When asked about managing fresh foods going out of date, Ryan explained that store waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant to produce energy as part of the Cooperative Group’s recycling.

John Morgan, Head of Campus Retail and Commercial Operations, said that following the expansion in 2012 Bath is now the largest University-operated grocery retailer in the UK, with term-time turnover a lot higher than most convenience stores.

One of the store’s remaining challenges is dealing with the peaks of customer demand, when the queue can snake to the back of the store despite all tills being staffed. The department is keen to tackle this and to help speed up payments the 20p card charge will be waived from next semester – you heard it here first!

Fresh Express

Next up was Fresh Express in Norwood House, where Christine Allgood, Store Manager, welcomed Dame Glynis. She introduced her to a number of her staff including Ruth Lunt, Chemistry PhD student, who is working while she awaits to hear her degree results, and Dan Savage, first year Computer Science student who said: “I love the job, it’s a nice balance with study and I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”


Christine Allgood with the VC in Fresh Express Store

Christine explained the store was busiest at lunchtime, with Meal Deals comprising the bulk of their business. With so many visitors, branded merchandise was getting a big push, with plans in the offing for a range of commemorative goods to celebrate the University’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

The store has been in the same location for at least 30 years and Christine shared some old photos with Dame Glynis, including staff surrounded by stacks of Pot Noodles.

Pitstop, Costa, Crêpe de France

Ashley Barnes, Food Services Coordinator, then took the Vice-Chancellor on a tour of the catering facilities on level 2 of Norwood House, starting with a chat with the longest serving member of Pitstop staff Leander Hoyte, who has worked there for 16 years.

Dame Glynis then met staff from Costa before being treated to a crêpe made by Sara Collins and Habiba Moubarak Mubark at Crêpe de France.

Habiba Moubarak Mubark and Sara Collins share a joke with the VC whilst making a crepe for her

Habiba Moubarak Mubark and Sara Collins share a joke with the VC whilst making a crêpe for her

The area was closed for the department to come together for tea, cake and a chat with the Vice-Chancellor, while colleagues kept the outlets going.

Dame Glynis said: “Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing you - and trying the crêpe! It’s particularly good to see so many of our current and former students.

“Even when it is at its most busy, I get the sense that you know just what you are doing and are proud of your work.

“The services we provide on campus have improved beyond recognition. What we offer to our campus communities and visitors is so important, so what you do really does count, thank you.”


Vice-Chancellor's June message

  , , , , , , ,

📥  Alumni event, Celebrating successes, Messages

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you will have already seen last week’s wonderful news that the University has received its largest ever philanthropic gift in the form of a £5m donation from Bath alumnus and friend Dr Jonathan Milner.

A Biology & Biochemistry graduate from 1988, Dr Milner has been a long-term philanthropist to higher education with a particular interest in evolution. His remarkable gift will help us launch the UK’s first centre for evolution research here at Bath.

This landmark moment in our history was announced at the launch of our 50th anniversary fund-raising campaign which took place last week at the iconic Gherkin building in central London, and was attended by alumni, supporters and senior academic colleagues.

During the evening we also announced that rather than settling for the expected target of £50m for our golden anniversary we have instead set ourselves the ambition of raising £66m to reflect the year we received our Royal Charter. Whilst challenging I believe this is achievable given the momentum we have already established, and the many excellent relationships we are developing with alumni, friends and supporters globally.

Our University has achieved much in its first 50 years and is well established as a nurturing environment for enterprising minds. We are renowned nationally for our research and teaching excellence as reflected in our outstanding REF results and our number one ranking for student experience in both the National Student Survey and The Times Higher Education (THE) survey. We expect our fundraising efforts will enable us to set our sights even higher.

The focus of the campaign is ‘Help us to look further’ and it is by looking further we are able to find solutions to real-world problems.

A short film showcasing how our research is already ‘looking further’ and featuring some of our student scholars and researchers who have received alumni support had its premiere at the fundraising launch. We will be using this to help develop the campaign in the coming months.

The Bath launch of the fundraising efforts will take place at The Chancellor’s Dinner in the Pump Room at the end of the month, and a comprehensive programme of activity is being planned over the course of our 50th celebrations.

Later this month we can look forward to our summer graduations in Bath’s historic Abbey. Always a wonderful event and one of the highlights of my calendar, graduation day is an opportunity for students, their families, and academic colleagues to celebrate both the hard work and achievement of the past three or four years.

Graduations will follow hot on the heels of our June Open Day. I know there will be plenty of work going on in the run up to the day to get ready for the thousands of expected visitors and I’d like to thank all those involved in advance in helping to ensure our visitors get the warmest of welcomes.

I’m still very much enjoying my visits to academic and professional service departments and the passion and energy of the staff I meet. You can read about them elsewhere on these webpages.

Best wishes

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL


Preview: VC's Report to Senate - 3 Jun 2015


📥  On campus

The purpose of the report is to update Senate with recent developments which affect the University.

1. Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015

The Prevent Duty was approved by both Houses of Parliament in late March. However, it did not prove possible for the Coalition partners to agree on how to handle provisions in it relating to visiting speakers on university campuses. These provisions will therefore only be introduced now that the Election has taken place. This may cause a delay in the implementation date of the new provisions for universities, which was intended to be 1 July 2015.

2. Senior Appointments

Council has approved Senate’s recommendations for the appointment of Professor Jonathan Knight as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) from 1 August 2015 for three years and of Professor Peter Lambert as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) from 1 July 2015 for four years. In May the University bid farewell to Professor Kevin Edge, Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

3. Senate Elections

Dr Michael Carley and Dr Steve Wharton have been elected to Senate from 1 August 2015 for three years in the recent election. Dr Fran Laughton will fill the casual vacancy on Senate resulting from the appointment of Dr Aki Salo as Chair of Academic Assembly with effect from 1 August, as the person receiving the next highest number of votes at the election.

4. Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey

The results of the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey were released in April. The University was ranked first out of 113 UK institutions for overall student satisfaction, and finished top or equal first in five of the criteria on which universities were judged. Our excellent academic, sports and social facilities, good community atmosphere, safe campus, and strong connections with industry were just some of the outstanding strengths highlighted in the survey.

5. Complete University Guide

The University was ranked 12th in the Complete University Guide published at the end of April. Although this was a drop from 8th place the previous year, the University now has 15 subjects in the top five, up from 12 last year and the highest number to date. Architecture and Business & Management Studies are ranked first. Subjects that made the greatest improvement in ranking position include Education (up thirteen places to 5th) Chemical Engineering (up four places to 3rd), Iberian Languages (up four places to 9th) and Physics & Astronomy (up three places to 5th). One of the reasons for the University’s indicator ranking position decreasing was the student:staff ratio (-7); this is adversely affected by the calculation of placement students as 0.5 FTE, as a significant percentage of Bath’s students are away on placement. A request has been made to reduce this to a more reasonable 0.2 FTE. Facilities spend was also low (-21) because although substantial funds were spent recently in this category, these did not fall within the period of the report.

6. Athena SWAN

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has achieved the Athena SWAN bronze award, recognising the Department's commitment to advancing women's careers in higher education and research. The Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology already has a bronze award.

7. Academic Assembly

I gave my annual address to Academic Assembly on 5 May. I focussed on research and the need to compete in terms of research power and research intensity, as well as to increase collaboration with other institutions and across disciplines within the University.

8. Internationalisation

8.1 International Profile

8.2 International Partnerships

  • The second call of 2014-2015 Bath International Research Funding Schemes closed in February. 46 applications were received and 21 awards were funded (17 of which were with the University Strategic Partners).
  • The University hosted a number of high profile visits including from Strategic Partners in Education ITESM - Mexico (visit from the Vice President for International Affairs), and Taylor’s University (Malaysia).
  • The Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) led a delegation to Brazil aimed at developing long lasting research links and identifying joint priorities with our Partner institutions in Brazil (USP and Sao Paolo).
  • Representatives from Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, PoLIS, IPR, the School of Management (SoM) and the IRO visited Mexico in April. Building on previous strong engagement in student recruitment, mobility and partnership development, the purpose of this visit was to consolidate collaborations with our strategic partner UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and well as explore new opportunities; activities during the visit included two workshops in Mathematics, planning for collaborative activities in Mechanical Engineering, the finalisation of exchange agreements in Mathematics and SoM, exploratory meetings with PoLIS, IPR, recruitment related activities and an alumni and partners event.

8.3 International Mobility

  • The IRO has submitted an institutional bid on behalf of the University (c. £1.3M) for mobility within Europe (also supplemented this year by an application for funding for mobility outside of Europe) under the ERASMUS+ programme.
  • New Undergraduate (UG) Student exchange agreements were recently developed with high profile Australian Institutions (University of Queensland and University of Western Australia) as well as with University Strategy Partner (Yonsei University – Korea and Nanyang Technological University – Singapore). Students will have the opportunity to spend time at these prestigious organisations as part of their studies from the next academic year.

8.4 International Student Recruitment

Building on successes in increasing UG applications in most Faculties/School (+9% in Science, +14.2 % in Management and +5.1% in HSS) the IRO, in collaboration with the Recruitment and Admissions Team and Faculties/School is focusing on increasing conversion rates across all disciplines. A number of conversation events (in which academic members of staff are participating) are taking place in key markets such as China, USA, Middle East, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Mexico.

9. Estates and Buildings

The Edge was officially opened by the Chancellor on 11 May. It will provide a location for interaction between Arts and Management both at the University and with the wider community.

10. Visits to Departments

I visited the growing Department of Chemical Engineering in 9 West in March where I met a range of the staff and students of the department. In April, I visited the Department of Computer Science in the refurbished 1 West building, and in May met with the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, which holds top position in several key league tables.

11. Other University News

I particularly wish to draw the attention of Senate to the following developments since our previous meeting:

11.1 Recent significant grant awards include:

Description Funder Principal Investigator £Amount
Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (CAMERA) EPSRC Dr James Bilzon 824,464
TUNEMEM: Externally Tuneable Separations for Membrane Reactors European Research Council Dr Darrell Patterson 1,331,297
Hyper-Actuated Flexure-Link Servo Mechanisms EPSRC Professor Patrick Keogh 342,317
FALCON - Finishing of Additive Layer Components on a Novel Platform Technology Strategy Board Dr Vimal Dhokia 359,963
Tailoring Magnetic Properties of MN-CR Chalcogenide Alloys and Heterostructures EPSRC Dr Daniel Wolverson 432,296
The Impact of Mobile Culture Donation Mr Chris Archer-Brown 250,000

11.2 Two members of academic staff, Professor Marjorie Weiss and Dr Denise Taylor, have been awarded Fellowship of the Faculty of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which is the provider of accredited educational events to support the professional and personal development of pharmacists at all stages of their career.

11.3 Professor Laurence Hurst has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society and also a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci).

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

May 2015


Vice-Chancellor visits Research & Innovation Services


📥  Visits to departments

The Vice-Chancellor headed to Research & Innovation Services (RIS) on her latest visit to find out how they help colleagues to win research funding and support them through projects.

To begin the tour Dr Jon Hunt, Director of RIS, introduced Dame Glynis to those involved in growing European Commission funding.


Caroline Ang, Research Development Manager, highlighted that international and European funding is at an all-time high with Horizon2020 awards growing from £11 million to £20 million in three years, including European Research Council grants secured by staff including Darrell Patterson, Tina Düren and Laurence Hurst.

Dame Glynis then met Katy McKen, Head of Research Information & Intelligence, and colleagues involved in using information and intelligence to grow targeted research applications.

Saskia Walcot, Research Impact Manager, outlined her worked with academic colleagues to build on the University’s strong focus on impact while Fi Lang, Marketing Communications Officer, described how the latest email campaign on Water research was being read by many more industry partners than the sector average.


Oscar DeMello, Industrial Partnerships Manager, and Graham Fisher, Research Commercialisation Manager, explained their work to support innovation funding.

Oscar talked the Vice-Chancellor through RIS’s work with industry, exemplified by the relationship with CGI specialists Imaginarium, whose initial approach for a small piece of research has rapidly grown into a key role in the Department of Computer Science’s new motion capture facility.


Alison Evans, Head of Research Project Management Service; Hazel Wallis, Head of Research Grants & Contracts; and Karen Giles, Research Contracts Officer, then described their efforts to improve the department’s effectiveness including improving the way research contracts are put in place, piloting Microsoft SharePoint to manage contract negotiation information, and creating a new end-to-end electronic environment from proposals to awards.

Dame Glynis spoke to staff as the whole department gathered in the Council Chamber for tea and cake. She said: “Our amazing REF 2014 results placed us twelfth overall, in among universities twice our size. Our challenge is to build on this and deliver more high quality research.

“You are doing a brilliant job. And we will need you to do even more, because what you do is critical for our future.”


Vice-Chancellor’s annual address to Academic Assembly

📥  On campus

Academic Assembly is the statutory body representing academic staff in the governance structure of the University. All staff in the Education & Research Job Family are eligible to attend.

The Vice-Chancellor attends at least one meeting each year to give her address. This year Dame Glynis attended the meeting on 5 May which was chaired by Dr Michael Carley.

Her address to Academic Assembly focused on research and, in particular, the need to compete in terms of research power and research intensity, as well as to increase collaboration with other institutions and across disciplines within the University.


Vice-Chancellor visits ACE


📥  Visits to departments

VC Visit ACE 28 April 2015.

On a fine Spring morning, the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE) offered the Vice-Chancellor an unexpected mix of Roman chariots, starfish and hemp during her latest visit.

It was perfect timing for the visit, with the newly published 2016 Complete University Guide further cementing the department’s national position at the top of the tables as Architecture ranked first and Civil Engineering third in the country.

Professor Pete Walker, Head of Department, welcomed Dame Glynis and introduced her to the Department Executive before presenting an overview of the department and its recent successes, including its joint first position in the Architecture, Built Environment & Planning category of REF 2014 with 90 per cent 4* or 3* papers.

Looking to next year, Pete outlined how the new 4ES building, which is currently under construction, would offer 1,500 m2 studio space and a 300 m2 workshop to the growing department of 850 UG and 600 PG students.

Professor Alex Wright, Head of Architecture, ran through some of the Architecture Group’s outstanding achievements including being ranked first overall in the national media subject league tables, having the highest NSS overall satisfaction rating for any UK school of architecture between 2009 and 2014, and the fact that 92 per cent of students achieve a first or 2.1 class degree.

Dr Antony Darby, Head of Civil Engineering, then spoke about the Civil Engineering Group, where intake has doubled in six years, underlining the unique mix of a joint teaching environment, creative design focus and industry input.

Pete then escorted Dame Glynis into 6E, dropping by students’ studios to visit Dr John Tredinnick’s Dome Research Project. John, an EngD student working in both the Dept of Computer Science and ACE, transported Dame Glynis back in time to the grounds of Chedworth Roman Villa in a virtual chariot race which was projected planetarium-style inside the ‘Discovery Dome’.

It was then down to the Structures and Hydraulics Labs on Level 1 to see Dr Chris Blenkinsopp’s work with starfish, investigating how the creatures use natural marine engineering to improve their chances of reproduction by arching themselves during spawning.

Dr Antony Darby explaining fabric moulded concrete

Dr Antony Darby explaining fabric moulded concrete

The next unscheduled stop was in the structures lab to look at how fabric moulded concrete can offer improved strength and aesthetics, and the soils lab to talk to Drs Daniel Maskell and Andrew Thomson who are researching the health benefits of using natural wall linings such as clay, lime and hemp on building inhabitants.

Dr Daniel Maskell explaining the research on the health benefits of using natural wall linings such as clay, lime and hemp on building inhabitants

Dr Daniel Maskell explaining the research on the health benefits of using natural wall linings such as clay, lime and hemp on building inhabitants

Dame Glynis, who met with members of staff at the end of her visit, said: “Thank you for inviting me; I’ve enjoyed seeing your work and celebrating your many achievements.

“It is wonderful to see you at this level of success; what I want to know is where you go from here and how we can help because you have a senior management team that is 100 per cent behind you.”


Special alumni New York reception with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor

📥  Alumni event

Nearly 100 alumni and friends from across the United States recently joined the Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL, for a special reception at the Essex House Hotel, New York.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell presents at the alumni reception in New York. Also pictured is the Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex Prince Edward

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell presents at the alumni reception in New York. Also pictured is the Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, and Michael Ashworth

The Chancellor welcomed guests to the event and introduced Professor Breakwell who spoke about the University’s recent good news including our excellent REF results and topping the National Student Survey for student satisfaction for a second year running. Guests also heard about our plans for the upcoming 50th anniversary, and the important role of alumni within that, before enjoying the chance to chat with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor over drinks and canapés.

As the first event in North America hosted by a University of Bath Chancellor, the evening also provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate two of our generous donors: Mike Ashworth (BSc Economics with Computing & Statistics 1986) signed the Chancellor’s Roll of Honour in recognition of his cumulative contributions to the University over a number of years and Honorary DSc, Professor Raymond F Schinazi (BSc Chemistry 1972 and PhD Chemistry 1976) formally announced his gift of $500,000 to the University of Bath Foundation. University fundraising in the USA has a long tradition, and it is encouraging to see signs that Bath is now beginning to benefit too.

New York Alumni reception

Denise and Bob Fisher, with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

A selection of photographs from the evening are available on the Alumni Relations Flickr page. If you have any of your own please do send them to

If you live in the area and want to be kept up to date with activities happening in the New York Tri-State Area please feel free to join the LinkedIn group.


Let's Talk Q&A: University communication


📥  Let's Talk Q&A


April 2015

Q - It sometimes seems the University is somewhat selective about the information it releases. Recently I made a request to the University Secretary for a copy of the University’s response to UUK – I was told this wasn’t available, even though more than half of the Russell universities had already published it. It took a request via the Information Commissioner to produce the disclosure. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Would you like to comment on the selective availability of important information that people need, rather than a selection by people at the top. (Hedley Bashforth SPS)

A - I would refute the implicit claim that we are selective in order to deceive or mislead. In this case, we responded to a consultation about what we as an institution felt about benefit changes to the USS scheme in a confidential process; it wasn’t a public process. So it was a question of to what extent do we seek to expose a confidential process? We thought there were reasons to look at that seriously. When the Information Commissioner came back and advised that since the consultation has now started, it would be appropriate to release the information, we did so.

So this is a classic example of the University responding to what is appropriate in the commercial context we are working and also in the context of the regulations that we have to comply with.