Welcome to staff and students as we start the new academic year in the Faculty of Medicine.
Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity according to researchers at The Rockerfeller University, New York. So we should all try and look on the bright side as we start the new term and hopefully we will all reach the 2020 new term fractionally younger than if we are pessimistic!
In the interests of optimism I will avoid the “B” word but do please don’t ignore John Holloway’s latest email asking you to make sure you have indicated any critical supplies that are imported from Europe.
On a more optimistic note, the Faculty of Medicine had some good outcomes over the last year. Firstly we graduated another year of great new doctors who will now be getting to grips with the life of an FY1 doctor. Good luck to you all – we hope you will keep in touch as your support is greatly valued. We had two UK National Teaching Fellowships awarded this year to Professor Sally Curtis and Dr Scott Border.
The Faculty also had some very worthy nominees for the VCs awards this year including Clare Taylor for Administrative and Operational Efficiency, Alison Tutt and Angela Fenwick for Career Achievement awards, Mark Hanson for International Engagement and Veronica Hollis for teaching. Congratulations to all.
We said farewell to some of the Faculty board members noted in my July blog and have three new members of the board. Salim Khakoo has taken over as Head of CES, Ying Cheong as Associate Dean for Enterprise and Matt Westmore has been appointed as Director of the Wessex Institute designate, stepping into the new role when Jeremy Wyatt retires at the end of September.
We have already welcomed new members at our first Operations Board meeting of the year. Technically the monthly board meeting we have is called the Faculty Operations Board, which I have to shorten to the “Ops Board” rather than FOB (images of a bowel cancer screening test).
We welcome Professor Nick Francis, moving from Cardiff University to join the newly merged School of PPM (Primary Care, Populations Science and Medical Education) as Professor of Primary Care and brings a research portfolio that complements work in the BRC around respiratory disease and antimicrobial resistance.
We will also be welcoming our new Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark E Smith, who starts on 1 October. Mark is keen to meet as many staff as possible and will be visiting the Faculty board and taking a tour of the Faculty soon after arriving and will join us at our first all staff meeting of this academic year due to take place later in the term. I am hoping to get to more of the all staff meetings within schools this year.
I would like to thank everyone for your support and engagement over the last year. I also want to apologise for those of you that were upset by the UEB blog announcing the end of the University ERP process for all Faculties except medicine. Even without the central ERP process all Faculties have to run a Faculty ERP and any Faculty not making their business plan targets will return to central ERP. There probably wasn’t a better way of making that information clear although I did propose a slightly revised form of words however, on reflection, my words were not an improvement on the original communication!
Thanks to Heads of School and all of you coming together to help address the budgetary challenges, we have made a big difference even in the space of 12 months and reduced our very large deficit by nearly one third at the 2018/19 financial year end, this was an excellent outcome in the circumstances but we still have more to do. I appreciate this was a really hard year for everyone and represents a big change in how we operate as a Faculty and a University. Just a reminder that each year the University has to make a healthy surplus, in order to keep investing in the buildings and infrastructure for the future; in an ideal world we would be investing £50m a year in infrastructure. Every Faculty and all the supporting services have to share the responsibility for University sustainability for the future.
On the research front there was good news – our research income was the highest ever last year (£32m) and our applications reached target, though quite late in the year. Unfortunately new awards ended up significantly below target so we need to keep up the application and success rate to catch up or our income will fall in future years as older grants finish without new ones coming on stream to replace them. The slow start to the year for grant applications and the organisational changes following the restructure have no doubt played a significant part in the lower income for the year but hopefully the upturn in applications will translate to awards this year and processes will become better as the changes start to bed in.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Professor Karen Morrison, our Associate Dean for Education, who has been successful in securing a new position as Dean of Education in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast. I wish her all the very best of luck in her new role and I am sure there will be many opportunities for us all to say farewell to Karen before she leaves at the end of October.