Day 101 in post and what have I been up to?

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But for the leap year, I would be posting this first blog as Vice-President for Community and Inclusion on the 100th day in my new job. Instead it is day 101, and unlike the namesake Room 101 where worst fears must be faced (1984 by George Orwell) or pet hates and worst nightmares banished (TV show), I want to take this opportunity to share with you a selection of the wide-ranging activities that I have been involved with and which I hope you will be glad, rather than fearful, to hear about.

Organisational Structure

I have spent quite a lot of time in the first 100 days, getting to grips with the EDI, culture and community activity that is taking place all around campus and extending into our city and region. I attempted to map out this activity, from staff networks to Faculty leads for EDI, from wellbeing champions to our inter-faith community. Having shared my attempt with colleagues and the SU, I think I managed to cover most bases. What I concluded is that to maximise the impact of the work of colleagues across campus and beyond, I need to make sure that we have the right institutional structures in place to facilitate that.

Yesterday, with guidance and support from the governance team, EDIC approved the formation of a new Community and Inclusion Operational Steering Group (CIOSG) which will bring together colleagues from across the university to solve problems related to EDI, community and culture, to share good practice and to build a community of practitioners keen to bring about cultural change for the benefit of all of us.

Strategic Projects

Before taking up my post, I hadn’t realised that I would be acting as sponsor for several strategic projects, important for delivering our institutional strategy. And to be honest, it took me a little bit of time to understand how I could be of any use in that capacity. Now that I have started to work that out, I’d like to mention just one of these projects – Digital Accessibility. This relates to our legal responsibility to ensure that what we produce digitally, whether that is from central comms or within a taught unit, can be accessed by everyone.

Having reviewed the findings of an external consultant who visited the University several months ago, I decided to set up a Special Interest Group (SIG) to help us individually and institutionally to understand and deliver on our obligations. The SIG comprises colleagues from across campus all of whom show an unwavering commitment to digital accessibility. At our first meeting together last week, the willingness of all SIG members to help us collectively move forward was both reassuring and inspiring. Not only that, but they also helped me to understand how I can help with this endeavour and we were able to agree my homework before we meet next.

Meeting the community

I’ve managed to get out and about a little bit and to learn about what goes on around campus. For example, with the SU, alongside building what I hope will become very effective and productive working relations, I had the pleasure of attending the Bath University Students Musical Society’s main production which this year was Beauty and the Beast. I know this musical well after probably several years when my daughters would regularly watch the Disney film on VHS video. But to see it live was brilliant and the talent was remarkable. What made it even better, from a community perspective, is that for this performance, any student who would like a part is able to participate.

University of Sanctuary

It has been an absolute privilege to work with colleagues from across the university who are committed to supporting refugees and asylum seekers. We recently submitted our application for re-accreditation as a University of Sanctuary. My role in that was very minor, just pulling together the final paperwork and getting approval from the relevant committees. Nothing in comparison to the work undertaken to provide scholarships (Advancement), to support refugee and asylum seekers who are studying with us (Student Support & Safeguarding), to undertake academic research that will make a difference to the lives of displaced people, to deliver taught programmes that will produce the next generation of creative thinkers to help address the plethora of challenges that displacement causes, and to offer practical support for the displaced people living in our city and region.

Creating Opportunity

With the help of colleagues, particularly in HR, I have been able to secure a new role in the University of a Race Equality Lead to help us to take what was done in recent years by the race equality taskforce and move forward with the goal to strengthen our diverse community. The position is available to internal candidates only with a closing date on May 29 2024. If you are interested, you can find out more and apply here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Over the summer, I’m planning to get out and about more so please look out for open house invites or if you see me around, on the parade or in the coffee queue, do stop for a quick chat.

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