My week - 7 May 2013 - Celebrating Partnership, teaching and community

Professor Vivien Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Education, gives an update on LUU's Celebrate Week awards and on the Student Education Service.

Professor Vivien Jones

Last week was LUU’s Celebrate Week – one of the busiest and best weeks of my year. I have the privilege of being invited to the series of events held to showcase and reward student achievement across a whole range of activities. Nothing demonstrates quite so eloquently how fantastic our students are in seizing the opportunities that a Leeds education offers them. The celebrations are both humbling and uplifting – and certainly remind me why I do this job, and why I enjoy my role so much.

The celebrations began, appropriately enough, with the Partnership Awards where students nominate staff in the categories of Personal Tutor, Feedback, Support, and Inspirational Teaching and where students and staff nominate each other for the Extra Mile and Innovation awards. And this year it was particularly good to see a new category – for the outstanding contribution to Outreach. Good, too, to see the mixture of academic and support staff among both nominees and winners. The video testimonies from nominators explaining their choices were, as always, very moving.

Tuesday saw the awards for the halls of residence committees – a great training ground for future student reps, and so important in making sure new students begin to feel at home here. On Wednesday it was Sports Colours and the Inter-Cultural Ambassadors Showcase, which goes from strength to strength. Ably supported by Katy Manns and her team, our forty-two Inter-cultural Ambassadors this year completed all their projects and once again made a huge contribution to cross-cultural understanding across campus.

On Thursday I hosted the LeedsforLife Citizenship Awards; and on Friday the RAG Community Awards were followed by the Rileys – always a great climax to the week, when the wealth of LUU societies and their dedicated and imaginative leadership teams are celebrated with noisy enthusiasm. The noise went through the roof when the VC was invited on stage to receive special thanks from the students to mark his leaving, and surprised everyone with a short and not unimpressive riff on the danceband’s drumkit!

I’m always particularly impressed and moved by the Citizenship Awards and the RAG Community event. So many of our students dedicate extraordinary amounts of their time to volunteering and fund-raising in an effort to make a difference to other less privileged lives both locally and internationally. The local groups and charities who attend the Community Awards to receive their donations are invited to give a brief account of what they hope to use the money for. Just a few hundred pounds from RAG can make a massive difference to causes from refugee support to sustainable community vegetable gardens.

Alongside all this, business as usual for the week included intensive work on the Student Education Service business case which is seeking funding for the systems and training needed to ensure that the Service achieves its goals of effectiveness and efficiency in the interests of an improved service for both students and staff. LUU Education Officer, Josh Smith, and I put the Partnership into practice on Thursday when we did our now well-established double act introducing Student Education at Leeds to new staff. And we held interviews this week for the first of the new Student Education Service Directors, where it was great to hear the candidates’ very positive external perceptions of our work in the area of student education.

The Partnership featured prominently in their views of what distinguishes Leeds – and after another great Celebrate Week, I can’t help feeling the same.


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