Vice-Chancellor's Message Vice-Chancellor's Message

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Vice-Chancellor's October message

A university’s purpose is to further knowledge for the benefit of all, extending our shared understanding of how the world works and inspiring people to question, think and take action on the grand challenges facing our planet.

As part of that mission, I want colleagues at UEA to succeed and thrive and, to that end, the next phase of our UEA Plan for the years 2020-2025 will have a much clearer focus on developing and supporting our people.

We will be launching a People working group co-chaired by Professor Sarah Barrow, ET Lead for Equality and Diversity, and our Chief Resources Officer Ian Callaghan. This will provide strategic oversight to a range of people projects, including gender pay gap action planning, flexible working pilots and staff development initiatives; and help us develop and implement our vision for supporting staff success with a new People Strategy. There will soon be an open call, via Lasdun, for up to five members of staff from across the University to join the group. Your managers will also be asking for your ideas and contributions in developing local People Plans, and I would encourage you to get involved to help make the changes happen in your own school or division. 

In response to the UEA 2018 staff survey results, we will also be developing a wellbeing programme to support the physical, mental and spiritual health of our staff as well as our students and you can expect to hear more of that in the months ahead.

Please also be aware that a briefing has been organised for UEA colleagues who are citizens of EU countries. The law firm Mills & Reeve will be in Lecture Theatre One on November 16 from 9am to 11am to talk through the EU Settlement Scheme and there is also a series of FAQs available on the Portal.

Listening to students – creating a sense of belonging

Turning to the theme of student experience we are determined to make our campus a place for innovation where students and staff can feel welcome, supported and inspired. A place where we truly build a sense of belonging for everyone in the UEA community.

This academic year we are working even more closely with UEA Students’ Union to support initiatives which make UEA a great experience for all students – from the BuddySU scheme through to #sayhello campaign. In faculties and schools our focus has been to support engagement with new students, create events and opportunities for students to join in, make friends and get involved in UEA life, and ensure students feel supported in their studies.  

Fittingly, at the end of Black History Month 2018, UEA will be signing up to Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter and working towards our award over the next few years. There is certainly much work to be done, as I was reminded when I chaired the Universities UK round table discussion on race-based micro-aggression and hate-crime. I will be following this up with student and staff groups to see how we can learn from others and ensure we build an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.

One area where the student experience has continued to evolve is the UEA library, which celebrated its 50th birthday at the end of the month. Looking at the 50 Years exhibition, which you can view on the entrance floor, it is striking to see how well the library building and its staff have adapted over the years, from its early card catalogues and record/CD collections to online catalogues and databases. In many ways, its journey mirrors the direction of the University as a whole, and I look forward to seeing how it changes still further as we develop our vision for the campus in this digital age.

Research, engagement and impact

It was a delight this month to welcome David Sweeney, chair of the UK Research Council, to campus and the opportunity to host the East of England REF2021 event.

It was also especially pleasing to see more than 100 UEA researchers and students taking part in the Norwich Science Festival this month; it was a splendid environment to showcase UEA’s research and the impact it’s having on the wider world. I wanted to especially thank everyone who took part and helped organise UEA’s contribution.

UEA has an enviable reputation for world-leading research and I would encourage our students and staff to ensure you take the time to apply for the UEA Innovation and Impact Awards 2019. If you believe that your research has had an Outstanding Social or Cultural Impact, apply for the awards before Monday 12 November. This award recognises the significant contribution of research and innovation to a specific group, wider society or cultural institution, promoting awareness and tolerance.

Success and recognition

I would like to thank Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge for her valuable contribution to UEA and to wish her success in her new role as Interdisciplinary Chair in Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham as a leading member of their Institute of Research into Superdiversity (IRiS). 

I would also like to congratulate John Turnpenny (PPL) who will be leading the UK contribution to a major new research project on climate change adaptation, working with Tim Rayner (Co-I, ENV) and colleagues from the Dutch Open University and University of Oldenburg (Germany).  The three-year project, which asks the question “Why do we find it hard to adapt to climate change?”  is funded by research councils in three countries under the Open Research Area in the Social Sciences. A full-time senior research associate, to be based in PPL, will be recruited to carry out the UK arm of the research.

With best wishes,

Prof David Richardson

Vice-Chancellor