Principal's Update: July 2014

Principal's Update: July 2014

The latest update for staff from the Principal, Professor Sir Ian Diamond.

Principal’s Update: July 2014

Dear Colleagues

As we enjoy this wonderful week of Graduations it is timely to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of colleagues across the University. The Graduation ceremonies are, if we needed one, a very personal and moving reminder of the transformational impact that we as a university have on students and wider society. That is testament not only to the purpose of a great university but to the collective dedication and professionalism of you as staff.  I would like to thank all staff for all that you have done to achieve the mission of the University in this past academic year.

Meetings of Court and Senate

Over the course of the last month we have had the usual final meetings of the year of the University Court and Senate. One of the highlights of the Court meeting last week was the endorsement of a new strategy for Internationalisation addressing student recruitment, the enhancement of the international student experience at Aberdeen, transnational education, research networks, staff recruitment and mobility, and alumni and donors. These are key priorities for us and I hope colleagues will continue to support Seth Kunin, the Vice-Principal for Internationalisation, to pursue the significant opportunities that are out there for a University with the profile and reputation of Aberdeen. We regularly have a presentation at Court from an academic or academic area to help inform our governors on the academic content of the University - and at this meeting we had an excellent presentation from Professor Mandy Ryan on the work of Health Economics Research Unit.

At Senate last month we had a productive consideration of the outcome of the Bureaucracy Review. In addition to a number of recommendations which should help enable us to allow academic colleagues to focus more of their time on academic work, the proposal for School based Innovation Forums will I hope help us to encourage new initiatives at a local level but which ultimately may have benefits for us across the University.

Opening of the Aberdeen Aquatics Centre and Commonwealth Queen’s Baton

It is difficult to escape sport at present given the World Cup, Wimbledon and, of course, the Commonwealth Games coming to Scotland this summer – and so it proves here on campus after we had the official opening of the Aquatics Centre by the Chancellor, HRH The Duchess of Rothesay and the arrival of the Queen’s Commonwealth Baton.

I’m sure colleagues will be interested to note that in addition to one of our students, Zoey Clark’s fantastic achievement in being selected for the Scottish Commonwealth Games Athletics team a number of Aberdeen graduates will also be participating in the games.    Also representing Team Scotland will be Olympic Gold medalist Neil Fachie MBE in para-cycling, Niall Cameron in table tennis, Dr Ross Houston in athletics, and Neil Stirton in the shooting. We wish them all every success.

European Student Energy Summit

I was impressed to see the first European Student Energy Summit being hosted here at the University a few weeks ago. The Summit which is student led and organised by Student Energy, came to Aberdeen as a result of a successful bid by Aberdeen students last year. The event, whichtook place simultaneously with events in Africa, North America and Latin America, and linked 300 European students with 1200 other students around the world, aims to inspire students to make a difference in the Energy sector. It was good to see a number of Aberdeen academics participating in the conference.

At the same time the University also hosted a series of events for secondary school pupils from across Scotland who were interested in a career in Energy. The Careers in Energy conference featured speakers from Industry and, of course, colleagues from the University who were able to highlight the range of degree courses available here that could help open up a career in the Energy Industry.

Recent Fundraising Success

I think it would be helpful to share with colleagues periodically news regard the University’s Development Trust and our fundraising activities.  The University was built on philanthropy and fundraising has made a significant contribution to our modern development .  More important, it is a key part of our plans for the achievement of the University’s ambition for the future.  The Development Trust’s sole purpose is to raise funds for the University, benefiting students, staff and the wider community in a number of ways.  

The Trust is entering an ambitious new phase. It has recently launched a new look and a brochure which outlines its ambitious plans for the future, which asks everyone involved to look forward and give back. This rebranding re-emphasises the Trust’s commitment to continue enhancing Aberdeen’s reputation as one of the leading universities in the world.

The Trust’s priorities - ‘patronage of our students’, ‘progress of our innovation’ and ‘preservation of our heritage’ - are based around the ambitions of the University with the aim of generating support through donations and gifts in kind from our world-wide family of alumni, friends and supporters.  Those working on or visiting the King’s College campus can now see the results of this rebranding with various marketing materials in place around the area.

In recent weeks the University has benefitted from the Trust transferring £200,000 for the Aquatics Centre, £45,000 for spinal injury research, £30,000 for Library Outreach & Education, and funding for numerous scholarships, fellowships and pieces of vital equipment across all Colleges.  Earlier in the project, the Aquatics Centre, as a further example, received significant support from Saltire Energy and FirstGroup which has helped us to create a facility that can rival any other aquatics venue in the world.

I look forward to keeping colleagues informed on the further achievements and activities of the Trust and the University’s fundraising as they progress.

Visits to Schools and Professional Services

My regular visits to academic areas continued recently at the School of Language and Literature where there was a very helpful discussion with colleagues on a range of issues. In addition, I had an inspiring meeting with some junior colleagues in Engineering. I was hugely impressed by their passion for their subject and their respective aspirations for the future.

I look forward to extending these visits to areas of the Professional Services over the course of the summer with the University Secretary, Caroline Inglis, and to discussing the vital part that non-academic colleagues play in the University.

Project Search

Colleagues will recall that I highlighted in my last message Project Search, a collaborative project based at the University which aims to increase the number of people with learning disabilities in employment. Last week we held a graduation ceremony for the first cohort of Project SEARCH Interns which was a wonderful occasion.

The Project SEARCH Aberdeen team is also celebrating following recognition at a national level of the achievements which they have made. The team received an award at the recent Project SEARCH European Conference, at which it was named the foremost up and coming new site of 2013/14, which is a great achievement.

In addition, the team have also been announced as finalists in the Green Gown Awards 2014.  Established in 2004. The Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK. This nomination is a tremendous accolade and we wish the team every success in this endeavour.

Scotland’s Census Conference

I recently helped to open Scotland’s Census conference in Edinburgh which was organised by the National Records of Scotland and the British Society for Population Studies. It was an opportunity for me to highlight not only the important resource for academic research that the Census is but some of the ways that colleagues in a range of disciplines here at Aberdeen use the Census to produce research that informs policy making across Scottish public life.

Ian Diamond

Principal and Vice-Chancellor