Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Blog | Staff engagement

An update for all colleagues from Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Interim Vice-Chancellor and President, on 6 December.

Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Blog | Our priorities for 2023/24 and beyond. November 2023

Dear colleagues,

I hope this latest edition of my blog finds you well and looking forward to a well-earned rest as the winter break approaches.

I have been making rapid progress in establishing the priorities for the direction of the University over the rest of this academic year and beyond. When I wrote a fortnight ago I set out my vision and six core priorities, which I am pleased to report were formally endorsed by the University Council last week. 

These priorities will guide how we work together – aligning with our values – to engage colleagues, achieve and celebrate excellence, and deliver impact in our research, student education and external engagement as we realise the goals set down in our ten-year strategy, Universal Values, Global Change.

One of the most important of my six priorities is that of staff engagement. The University has today published the institutional level response and an action plan to address some of the issues which you told us – via the Employee Engagement Survey – need significant work to improve. More than 30,000 comments, providing passionate and frank views, have been analysed to inform this response. The survey results were published in May 2023.

Colleagues spoke confidently about a strong sense of belonging within individual teams, but more than 15% of all comments indicated that University leaders need to be more visible, while one in ten comments called for better ways of engaging in meaningful dialogue between colleagues and leaders to make positive change. I am determined that as an institution we do just that, and I and my UEG colleagues will lead the way in bringing a more transparent, consultative and authentic approach to informing, listening and reflecting your feedback in University operations and decision-making. 

I would like to highlight some of the other commitments the full response makes: 

  • at University Executive Group (UEG) level, we are improving opportunities to hear your feedback, including a new series of staff fora for each faculty and professional service, where colleagues can ask questions directly of myself and my colleagues. 
  • groups such as Leadership Forum, the new Academic Consultation Forum and fora involving Deans of Faculty, Heads of School, Pro-Deans, academic Deans, Heads of Professional Services and research group leads, are being enhanced to provide more two-way dialogue and enhanced leadership distribution across the organisation. 
  • my leadership colleagues and I will also spend more time in different parts of the University, shadowing colleagues or performing front line roles, to gain fresh perspectives from our community and discuss how we should jointly deliver the University’s vision and strategy. 

Please take the opportunity to look at the further details outlined in the University action plan, as well as the improvement plans specific to your faculties and professional service areas which will also be published soon - so you can see how improvements to collaboration, communication, and creating a more engaging culture will be introduced locally.

On the global stage, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference more commonly referred to as COP28 is at its halfway point. The University is an official observer of the UNFCCC – the framework that underpins COP28 – and leading academics, researchers and students from Leeds are contributing to the vital discussions and negotiations taking place in Dubai. I encourage everyone to review the contributions made by our colleagues in this programme of events and watch this powerful film by Dr Nicole Nisbett explaining what COP28 is and why it is so important to the future of our planet.

In related news, it was great to see the University’s excellence in climate research recognised in the prestigious Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Impact Awards. A team led by Professor Piers Foster and Dr Chris Smith from the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures won the award for Societal Impact for their work in informing international net zero emission targets and national legislation through physical climate model emulators. NERC says this research has transformed the understanding of the connection between global temperatures and emissions, playing a crucial role in informing international climate policies linked to the Paris Agreement and helping nations enshrine net zero emissions targets in law.

You can read many more success stories setting out the achievements of colleagues in the University’s news web pages and monthly Celebrate Our Staff communications.

I have continued to enjoy very fruitful conversations with colleagues both informally and formally over the last few weeks and anticipate many more. Meanwhile, winter graduations get underway on Friday with our first virtual ceremony and our in-person ceremonies take place on campus next week. I look forward to being a part of these ceremonies to help celebrate the success of our students – and here you can preview my graduation message to students.

Best wishes,


Posted in: