Weekly update from the Vice-Chancellor - 15/10/21

Posted in: Weekly Update

Dear colleague,
I hope this message finds you well. We have been able to wish Professor Jane Millar well in person this week, following her retirement from the University of Bath in July. She served our community so ably in her many senior roles over 30 years with us and we are deeply grateful for her contributions. Jane will continue to collaborate with us in her role as Emeritus Professor and to contribute to her wider academic field. Thank you, Jane, and our very best wishes for your next chapter.

Black History Month
It is Black History Month which gives us the opportunity to reflect on the longstanding contributions of the black community, to learn from our past and to make decisions about our future. I’m very grateful to colleagues across the University for supporting a whole range of activities. On Monday, we joined Wiltshire Council and other local partners for the South West Black History Month Conference. Activities still to come include:

  • Tackling Racism and Racial Inequality in Sport, with Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England and a member of Council, an online event on 19 October.
  • An online event with Paul Mendez, author of the highly praised novel 'Rainbow Milk', in conversation with Professor Rajani Naidoo, Head of the Race Equality Taskforce, hosted by the Library and B&NES Council on 28 October.
  • In addition, colleagues in the Library have kindly set up a Black Literature and Culture Library list as well as a book display on Level 2.

Thank you to all those who have organised these events and to everyone who takes part.

Safety measures on campus
To date, student and staff cases of Covid-19 on campus have been low, but we are carefully monitoring the situation and our safety measures, in line with our updated Outbreak Management Plan.

We have seen very good uptake at the vaccination clinics on campus, with hundreds of bookings over the last two weeks. Local public health officials will soon be offering us additional dates so that they can give us further opportunities for students to get fully vaccinated. I was pleased to see double Olympic gold medallist and mechanical engineering student, Tom Dean, using his voice in the last few days to urge young people to get vaccinated.

We have seen a more varied picture in terms of the use of face coverings, with many colleagues reporting positive and widespread use in lecture theatres, particularly when people are reminded. However, others are seeing more patchy compliance, particularly when students are waiting to enter teaching spaces. We have been:

  • reiterating the rules about face coverings through the weekly student e-mails, on our webpages and social media channels, through videos, the SafeZone app and digital screens.
  • giving out reusable face coverings at receptacles across campus, with thousands distributed since the start of term.
  • asking Estates to keep doors open in spaces such as Chancellors’ Building to reduce numbers queuing to enter and leave buildings.

I know many of you have been politely reminding students to wear face coverings in teaching spaces, both verbally and using the slides with key messages, for which I am most grateful. As a University, we will certainly be continuing to reiterate this message at every opportunity.

Of course, face coverings are but one of the many mitigations we have in place as part of our risk assessments, including ventilation, regular cleaning regimes and CO2 monitoring where required. If you need additional supplies of safety equipment, please use this online guide to order them. Thanks to those who have raised any issues through the Campus Safe and Ready TOPdesk tile, and of course to our operational colleagues who have responded very rapidly to address any emerging issues.

Covid testing
Please remember that we are asking both colleagues and students to keep taking twice-weekly LFD tests, for those without symptoms, which are available at campus collection points or online.

We are in touch with local public health officials about whether advice is likely to change in relation to LFD and PCR tests, and we understand that the UK Health Security Agency is investigating this issue. In the meantime, please follow University advice and good public health advice: if you have a cold, flu or other respiratory infection, please rest at home both in order to prevent the spread of infection and to aid your own recovery. We are also urging our students to follow the same advice.

New Director of Development and Alumni Relations (DDAR)
I am very pleased that we have appointed Gordon Cox as our next Director of Development and Alumni Relations. Gordon will be joining Bath from University College, Oxford, where he is currently Director of Development and a Fellow. The recruitment panel were impressed with his considerable experience of the Higher Education sector, having previously held development roles at the University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh and Durham University. I know that Gordon is looking forward to working with colleagues across our University community when he joins in January 2022.

Event for Olympians and Paralympians
Last week, it was a real pleasure to host a small event on campus for a number of the Bath-based athletes who competed in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

In my updates to you over the summer, we celebrated the medals won and outstanding performances. It was equally humbling to hear, first-hand, of the real challenges overcome and of the athletes’ appreciation to their support teams and colleagues at our Sports Training Village for maintaining safe facilities in which to train.

Finally, congratulations to Dr George Stothart and his colleagues in the Department of Psychology for the widespread coverage and interest in their research that could increase early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. These colleagues have developed a new two-minute passive-test, called Fastball EEG, that picks up small, subtle changes in brain waves.

With best wishes,

Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President

Posted in: Weekly Update


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