Ruth Taylor, our new Vice-Principal for Education tells us about her first week at the University and her initial priorities in her role.
- Tell us about your role at the University.
I’ve been appointed as Vice Principal for Education, part of the University’s Senior Management Team with responsibility for the overall Education Strategy focusing on areas such as the student experience, student success, employability, quality, and learning & teaching. As part of the role I will be out and about in the sector so that I have an external view and to learn with and from others.
- How do you usually start your day?
As I’m getting ready for work, I listen to the news and then turn on my podcast for the day for my walk to work. Walking to work is a new experience for me - this is the first time in my working life that I haven’t had to commute! For anyone who enjoys podcasts, I thoroughly recommend the Missing Cryptoqueen – I loved it! I find walking to be so good for my physical and mental wellbeing. When I get to work I have a decent breakfast – it’s always the same but sets me up for the day ahead.
- What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?
A number of things, firstly the role itself. I wanted my next role to be a VP for Education. In my last job, I was a PVC/Dean of a large faculty and had cross-institutional responsibility for student retention. My background in HE and my research are student focused and this is what I am passionate about.
The university itself also appealed to me: its reputation; its excellence in education and research; and its values because how we articulate and enact our values is hugely important to me.
I feel so fortunate to have got this role in this university. It’s not only my ideal role but also the ideal geographical location for me. I worked at Robert Gordon University until 6½ years ago and then moved down to Cambridge for a new job. Over those years my family have been up here and I’ve been down there, with us going back and forth every weekend – which we loved as Cambridge is a lovely place. But I’m so happy to be back with my family and friends, and particularly my new grandson who I get to squeeze regularly now!
- What’s your favourite thing about your job?
I am only 5 days in but what drives me, and always has, is people. I was a nurse before I went into education so it was always about people and the patient experience, and then when I moved into Higher Education it became about the student experience and the people I work with. I think that how we communicate, how we interact, and how we do things is so important in creating a vibrant culture that enables us to work well together. So my favourite thing about my job in short is people.
- What are your work priorities at the moment?
Before Christmas I aim to get out and meet as many people as I possibly can; colleagues from across the University and AUSA. This will help me to get to know the university and its people, learn more about what’s important to everyone. I also have some key areas that I’m interested in discussing related to my portfolio so that I can understand colleagues’ perspectives. Most importantly I want to start to develop relationships – relationships matter.
- How do you like to relax outside work?
It may sound corny but family and friends are a huge priority for me. I also absolutely love live music – I used to be on the Montrose Music Festival committee before I moved down south and enjoyed being part of a team that brought great live music to the town. One of my daughters has given me an Aberdeen Performing Arts Friends membership for my birthday, so I already have loads in my diary! I’ll be going to the theatre, enjoying some comedy, and of course seeing live music.
I love reading when I can – I have a thing about Man Booker prize winners and am working my way through all of them (it may take some time!). And I love walking, that’s my biggest thing. I absolutely love being out and about; it’s one of the joys of being back up here - the hills, the sea and scenery.