Weekly update from the Vice-Chancellor - 22/07/2022

Posted in: Weekly Update

Dear colleague,

I hope this update finds you well and that you managed to keep as cool as possible in the high temperatures earlier this week. I’d like to thank all of those who helped our community and campus to keep operating safely, from our technicians ensuring our lab environments were running smoothly, to staff in the nursery for looking after the children with such care. My thanks also to the Library for offering a comfort cooled space from which to hotdesk, HR colleagues for their expert advice and to the teams behind the scenes at graduation ceremonies and receptions for looking after graduates, guests and staff in these exceptional conditions.

Graduation ceremonies
The last two weeks have been really special. Last week, we held the final three days of celebrations marking the graduation of students from 2020 and 2021 who were previously unable to attend in-person events due to the pandemic, with more than 2,000 attending. This week, we held our annual summer award ceremonies from 19 to 22 July. It was wonderful to welcome our graduates and their guests to Bath Abbey, and to recognise their hard work and achievements.

A huge amount of work goes into arranging graduation ceremonies every year, involving colleagues from across the University. However, I want to acknowledge the Herculean effort involved in organising the scale of ceremonies this year, given the impact of the pandemic. And, on top of that, Tuesday’s ceremonies took place in high temperatures. I am so grateful to colleagues in the Events team, Academic Registry, HR, Security, Estates and beyond for pulling out all the stops to make it as comfortable and smooth-running as possible. Thank you.

It was humbling to be able to award a number of honorary degrees, including to Dame Professor Sarah Gilbert, who co-developed the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. And it was particularly moving to see Professor Gilbert receive a standing ovation from our graduates and their guests. We were also delighted to award honorary degrees to Professor Kehinde Andrews, the UK’s first Professor of Black Studies in Europe; Baroness Barran, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education; Professor Sir Richard Catlow, one of the most influential scientists of his generation with a particular interest in catalysis; Dr Alastair Lawson, Vice President and Immunology Fellow at UCB Pharma, and Professor Luke O’Neill, a leading authority on the immune response that drives inflammation. You will be able to find the orations for all these esteemed individuals on our webpages later this month.

Government plans for a potential transition to a new R&D programme
The UK Government has now published details of how we will transition to a new Research & Development programme, if the UK is unable to associate to EU programmes. The announcement makes it clear that the UK Government’s position remains to associate to all four EU programmes. However, these much-anticipated plans help to remove the uncertainty about how funding will keep flowing to researchers and industry in the scenario where this does not happen. We are carefully reviewing the details, and I’m sure colleagues will want to read further information on the Government website.

Campus Experience of the Year award
I was delighted to learn that we won the flagship Campus Experience of the Year Award at The College & University Business Officers (CUBO) Awards 2022.

I’m particularly pleased for all those colleagues in ahs who went above and beyond to deliver exceptional support to our students during the pandemic from refurbishing quarantine rooms, to providing games, exercise equipment, snacks and healthy meals for students in self-isolation.

The award also speaks to the wider culture here at Bath, and the truly inspirational way in which our community has supported our students, and each other, during the last two years. Congratulations to Jane Loveys, her team and everyone who contributed to this achievement.

Shortlisted for University Access Initiative of the Year
My congratulations also to Dr Andrew Ross and colleagues for being shortlisted for University Access Initiative of the Year in the Student Social Mobility Awards by UpReach. This is a great achievement for all those involved in the Pathway to Bath programme, and builds on recent success in the NEON awards.

Mental health support recognition
As you may have seen reported in The Guardian, men’s mental health charity HUMEN conducted a study on student mental health support at universities in the UK, in which our University is ranked eighth. I understand there has been some debate about methodology within the sector, but the metrics still indicate the level of priority and resource we afford this important area. The Student Services team (who will become known as Student Support & Safeguarding from September) have made investments and innovations in service delivery over the last few years, and I’m pleased this hard work is being recognised.

I wanted to reflect that these achievements are superb in themselves, and also build on a year in which we’ve seen ranking after ranking place the University of Bath in the top ten in the UK, in addition to the recent NSS result which sees us retain our place at the top of similar universities in England. We always acknowledge that rankings are only part of the story, but they do reflect the type of inclusive and outstanding community we are part of here at Bath, and the shared successes we have had makes me deeply proud of each and every one of my colleagues.

Finally, my congratulations to DBA alumna and Vice-Chancellor of North West University in South Africa, Professor Linda Du Plessis, who has won the 2022 Emerald Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research for her thesis on how university leaders responded to transformative organisational change initiated by shifts in government policy in South Africa. This global research award programme recognises exceptional doctoral research that addresses the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and I am delighted that the University has been so recognised.

With best wishes,

Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President

Posted in: Weekly Update


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