My Week – 28 October 2013

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands.

Sir Alan Langlands

With all 32 Annual School Academic Performance Review (ASAPR) meetings just about completed, I am beginning to understand more about the risks and opportunities facing the University over the next few years; thankfully, the latter outweigh the former by quite a margin.  I have also been liberated from the level 13 meeting rooms, gradually able to spend more time listening to students across the campus. I have been impressed.

There was a real sense of commitment in my visit to the School of Law, where I was encouraged by the undergraduate students’ enthusiastic involvement in community-based legal advice centres, witness protection and prisoner support schemes.  Meanwhile the PhD students argued strongly for enhanced “easy to arrange” opportunities to work across disciplines. The theme of professionalism continued at a moving ceremony in the Great Hall on Friday afternoon as the third year medical students celebrated their success to date and publicly renewed their commitment to the ideals of professionalism and the part they will play in their studies, clinical practice and future lives as doctors.

Final year students in the School of Food Science and Nutrition told me how their year out in industry helped them to make sense of the curriculum in years 1 and 2 and the PhD students in the Nutritional Epidemiology Group were eager to explore some of the challenges of developing the scientific protocols for community-based studies and the practicalities of collecting data on diet and exercise.

I also met with members of the Leeds University Union (LUU) Executive who explained their vision for students’ health and wellbeing; recruitment and retention; increasing the visibility of school and course reps so that all students can have their voices heard; and ensuring continued investment in their Partnership with the University.  The student experience at Leeds and the development of the Student Education Service got the thumbs up but some of the specific challenges and the general expectation of continuous improvement were not lost on me.

My research insights were also helped along on my School visits and also in meetings with the Director of the N8 Research Partnership, the new Chief Executive of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the Pro-Deans for Research and my VC colleagues from the Yorkshire and Humber region.  The highlight was a day trip to Oxford for a meeting of the Met Office Academic Partnership, which combines the research excellence of Exeter, Oxford, Reading and Leeds and tackles the socially important and scientifically demanding challenges of forecasting the weather, and understanding and predicting the future course of our climate. Work in Leeds on the theoretical understanding of the atmosphere, and on the next generation of weather and climate prediction models is crucial to the future development of the partnership.

Finally, on Friday evening I enjoyed a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of Chinese and East Asian Studies at the University.  Parkinson Court was packed with representatives of a number of embassies, consulates and trade offices, faculty members (past and present), alumni – including some of the earliest graduates from the 1960s – and many of our present students.  But this was a party with a purpose – as the centre of gravity of the global economy shifts inexorably towards East Asia, the mutual understanding and respect that exists between the University and key individuals and institutions in China, Mongolia, Japan, the Asia Pacific, South East Asia and Thailand will clearly serve us well.

There is no shortage of interest or opportunity in Leeds…and I am enjoying every minute of my new role.

Sir Alan Langlands_signature

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