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I am writing this on a Thursday. The year 263 (CE) started on a Thursday which, coincidentally is also the number of people who responded to the survey on the recruitment of our next Vice-Chancellor. Thank you to all 263 for taking the time to contribute.

We had input from students, staff and alumni and are now analysing the results. We also ran a range of focus groups, both in person and online over the last three weeks, so thank you to the 55 people who engaged in those discussions. We had a really interesting mix of views, and the sort of rich conversations you can’t get from a survey. Members of the Committee on the Office of Vice-Chancellor came along to observe (and occasionally partake if they couldn’t restrain themselves) in these discussions which gave them the opportunity to hear your views first hand. We are reading through all of this material to look for common themes, and expect to produce some feedback which we will share with members of the University community. This will also inform the next stage, producing the candidate pack which we will use to explain to people what we are looking for, but will also help us design the selection process.

Below is a word cloud of the most common themes which appeared across the survey, the focus groups and the other emails we received on this topic. The idea of this is just to give an image of the topics on which people commented. We will need to read all of the comments more closely to understand their context and review this alongside input from Council, Senate and others.

Some of you also helpfully suggested names of people we might consider in this process. I have passed all of these onto Perrett Laver, our recruitment agents, with whom we will discuss this further. Although we have closed this initial engagement, experience shows that people will want to express views and ask questions throughout the process. If anyone wants to do this in an unattributed way, then Perrett Laver have set up an email box (bathvc@perrettlaver.com) where you can send them comments and questions.

To end, I found that 263 is also a balanced prime number. That is probably only of interest to a select group of mathematicians and I’m now getting a bit obsessed. If we get 263 applications for the post, obsession might become paranoia 😊


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