VC's week - 7 January 2013 - Resolutions, announcements, honours and ‘Great Expectations’

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

Welcome back to what I trust will be a happy and successful 2013 for the University. I hope that you have all enjoyed a good break over the festive season and that not too many of you have had to resort to the same New Year’s resolution as me – yes, weight control and exercise/fitness loom large in my post-Christmas thinking. I suspect that The Edge will be very busy – well, for a month or so at least!

The New Year has brought some good news and some announcements. First, we have a new Chair of Council and Pro-Chancellor, Mr David Gray. From my very first contact with him during the selection process, I was deeply impressed. He will have a hard act to follow taking over from Linda Pollard (more about Linda’s outstanding contribution later this year), but I have no doubt that David will bring a great deal of experience, wisdom and energy to this key role.

I have to confess that I have, perhaps, made life a little difficult for them both with my announcement about UCL, but I am confident that they will lead the selection of a new Vice-Chancellor wisely – a process which is already in train. I would anticipate a very strong field of individuals who will be attracted by the scale, ongoing ambition and progress of this great University. For the sake of clarity, let me make it clear that I will not be involved in selecting my successor, but that won’t stop me looking at the outcome with interest.

The New Year’s honours list also brought great cheer to the University. I am thinking, of course, of the MBE for Jillian Johnson, one of our unsung heroes, who works tirelessly in the School of Music to pull together a truly outstanding international-quality concert series each year. I always think that the most important function of the honour’s list is to recognise people like Jillian who always give way more of themselves than could reasonably be expected. I can think of many in this University in the same mould, and I hope that others will be similarly rewarded in due course.

Finally, our new year got off to a great start with our second annual Student Education Conference aptly titled ‘Great Expectations’. The Rupert Beckett lecture theatre was packed for keynote lectures given by Dai Hounsell, University of Edinburgh, and Derfel Owen, University of Exeter, and our own Susan Nash, a distinguished alumna and previous Leeds University Union executive officer, and now Chair of Young Labour. Their topics were ‘Improving Feedback and Enhancing Assessment’ and ‘Engaging Students (I and II)’ – three great talks that were thought provoking and highly topical in the new era of increased marketisation of higher education. But this was not the whole story – what was great to see throughout the day was not only our own internal expertise on display, but also our wholesome commitment to student education as a leading research-intensive University. I am proud of the way that we have jointly achieved that balanced cultural shift. Well done and many thanks to all of you.

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