The Faculty of Medicine senior leadership team met last week for our second away day of the academic year. We focused on three areas during our time away – developing our future research and teaching landscape, the future of postgraduate taught courses and staff engagement, recognition and reward.

Nationally, the exceptionally challenging higher education environment and the current economic and political turmoil have created a perfect storm. A clear matrix of our likely future research and teaching landscape is essential to underpin transparency in strategic investment. We want to ensure our rising stars are supported through the development pipeline of expertise for the future, and we want all staff at all levels recognise where they fit in the overall picture so that their work is positioned within a Faculty and a wider University landscape.

Steve Jobs observed that “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people”. Clarity of direction with all staff, and understanding the contribution they bring as part of the team, will create a stronger base and help us present a consistent and sustainable vision when making decisions about future developments. We will be presenting this matrix when the draft is complete – in considering where your work fits, remember that those on balanced pathways should spend a minimum of 20% of their FTE in teaching our students.

We reviewed our Postgraduate taught courses in Medicine in Southampton. Postgraduate courses require administrative and staff time to set up and run so need to be underpinned by market research, appropriate marketing and adequate student numbers to, at the very least, break even. The main cost of establishing new courses is the administrative costs. These require adequate resourcing through a financially sustainable model and we are exploring options for more cross-Faculty PGT courses and CPD activities. We will be taking these ideas forward with the relevant PGT leads.

Staff engagement is a measure of how much staff are prepared to invest effort in supporting the goals and values of their organisation. Our staff survey results were recently distributed to all staff. Thank you to the 701 (68%) staff in the Faculty who responded. I have read all the individual confidential comments that 47% of staff submitted. Thank you for these, there were common themes, and several good suggestions and ideas.

Overall our results in Medicine reflect a positive sense of self-worth, a high level of trust in colleagues, excellent job satisfaction and a sense of personal accomplishment (all scored > 80%). The more challenging areas, with more staff recording neutral or negative scores, reflect uncertainty around change, the organisational approach to risk and clarity of purpose of the organisation as a whole. I will do my best as a new member of the University Executive Board to help improve the organisational issues. There will be further communication about the more local level results and how we move forward.

The Faculty Board members and I will communicate regularly with Medicine staff through eNews, all staff and senior academic meetings as well as via your School Executive Boards. The senior leadership team in Medicine are a great team and very supportive, and will be working with me to represent your interests. You will all need to work with us too, keeping a wider perspective, looking after your teams but also looking beyond to how your role and your team fit into the wider University mission.

I recommend signing up for Sussed alerts, this is a good way to keep abreast of news if you don’t log onto the University website on a daily basis. You all had the opportunity to convey your views about what qualities you would value in the next VC to enable Council to make the best choice possible for our future leader. I hope you will join me in feeling reassured that our interim VC, Professor Mark Spearing, is very familiar with and supportive of our work in the Faculty of Medicine.

Finally we had a productive discussion exploring options for staff schemes to recognise and thank our engaged and collegiate Medicine staff across all job families and levels. Two ideas are now being fully worked up and we hope to share these with you very soon.

Diana Eccles

Dean of Medicine

Update from the Dean of Medicine

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