One year on
As I write to you, I am reflecting on the fact that it was a year to the day on 16 March, earlier this week, when we communicated to our community that teaching and learning was going online and many colleagues began working from home.
Next week, on Tuesday 23 March, it will be one year to the day since the UK’s Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown.
It has been a very tough year in so many ways, and it has affected us all both personally and professionally. It has also been a year full of extraordinary examples of kindness, and of our community working together to support one another, as well as contributing to wider efforts to better understand and tackle the pandemic.
We will be holding an online event for our community next Tuesday at lunchtime, where we will be joined by our Chaplain, Nigel Rawlinson, and others to reflect on the past year and also to look ahead. We are hoping to bring our campus community together virtually in a number of ways as we pause to reflect. More information will shortly follow about how you can get involved.
Working arrangements over the summer
Thank you to everyone who took part in the latest Work and Wellbeing survey. We are now analysing the results in detail, but one emerging theme is the desire to know more about working arrangements over the coming months.
Our aim in the medium term will be to recreate a thriving University campus community in which every staff member is able to work as successfully as possible in a safe and secure way. We know this will look different across teams and departments, and we will be working with Heads of Department on different ways of working.
Our sense of community and connection is paramount. We have heard through the survey that some colleagues who have been working from home have enjoyed the flexibility and balance it can bring. Others have felt isolated or unable to work and collaborate as effectively whilst working remotely. Many of us have missed the social and professional connections we had with more of us working on our campus or in the city.
Looking ahead, we will seek to create ways of working to deliver our strategy as successfully as possible, and support sustainable staff working practices that make use of our learning about remote working from the pandemic.
In the short term, we also recognise that measures like social distancing will continue over the coming months, which will of course affect our ways of working. We will be discussing this further with Heads of Department next week and returning to this topic at the Town Hall meeting later this month. Do please join us to hear further details then if you wish, as well as looking out for further information afterwards.
As we discussed in January’s town hall, a huge amount of progress has been made since the engagement exercise ‘Our University, Our Future’, which began to address our future strategic direction. Some developments, including appointing our first Vice-President (Student Experience) and establishing a Student Experience Board, developing our Bath Beacons project, establishing a Race Equality Taskforce and making senior appointments to this and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, have been achieved despite the challenges the pandemic has brought. Others, for example the progress made through the Bath Blend of online and in-person learning, or expanding student facilities in the city, have accelerated in response to Covid. Progress has also been made on key programmes started before the pandemic hit, for instance in relation to our Climate Action Framework or in our local partnerships through Our Shared Future. I pay huge tribute to our community for driving forward these important initiatives.
We are planning to publish our Institutional Strategy document, which will help to inform our strategic and departmental plans, in the summer.
Professor Carole Mundell named Hiroko Sherwin Chair
I would like to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate Professor Carole Mundell, who has been named Hiroko Sherwin Chair in Extragalactic Astronomy. Professor Mundell has been awarded a named Chair in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the international field of astrophysics research and her work to promote diversity in STEM.
Next town hall
Our next virtual town hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 31 March, just before the Easter break, when we hope to talk a little more about strategic direction and working arrangements, among other topics. I hope that you will be able to join the conversation.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to send my congratulations to colleagues in the Marketing department for their work on the new external website homepage, which looks most impressive.
With warm good wishes,
Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President