In an Olympic year there is always a great focus on celebrating success and rightly so. This year we saw both our Olympic and Paralympic teams beating their London medal tallies and surpassing their targets. This comes at the end of four gruelling years of training and demonstrates their preparation, dedication, skills and ability.
Mike Hamlyn’s blog responding to the year 2 specification for the TEF, which proposes an Olympian approach to the categorisation of Universities with gold, silver and bronze ratings, reminds us that not everybody wins medals, but to be an Olympian they still have to be world class.
This made me reflect on the fact that UK Higher Education is reputed to be world class. I would argue that what contributes to our outstanding reputation in Higher Education is the richness of our sector in the UK, offering a diversity of missions and complementary strengths. On Friday I was at the launch of the exciting new Applied Materials Research Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC) in Stoke on Trent, along with the two other University partners; Imperial College London and Manchester University. What was clear is the different skills and expertise that each partner brings to AMRICC, supporting world leading research, innovation and practice, and applied learning and development.
My opening about celebrating success and what it takes to succeed is the focus of my blog. Since the start of this academic year I have been honoured to be a part of a number of launches and celebrations. It started with our staff conference where we launched our new strategy with 800 staff attending the day. During that day a number of staff spoke about why they are ‘Proud to be Staffs’. They were reflecting on our achievements and on those of our students and graduates. We were able to plan the next steps of our journey in implementing our strategy and how we will take the university forward and continue to enhance what we do and grow our reputation and performance.
After a lot of preparation and planning and a very challenging timeframe for moving from our Beaconside campus to the Stoke-on-Trent campus and building our new facilities, we welcomed our students onto a transformed campus. The campus is ‘buzzing’ and vibrant. Our first open day was really successful where our ‘brilliant and friendly staff’ were proud to demonstrate the sort of experience that our students now have in our new learning spaces.
Our pride in the new facilities and particularly our cutting edge technologies was endorsed when Jason Bradbury from the Gadget show was our guest speaker at our launch evening and tweeted ‘wow ur facilities are fantastic’. He was truly ‘blown away’ by our studios and new classroom spaces and technologies, and he went on to entertain us with a mind-blowing talk about future technologies and how they will transform our lives.
And finally but not least, I am so ‘Proud to be Staffs’! For those who were at the Celebrating Staff Success Awards you will know exactly why. Ever since I first walked through the door of Staffordshire University to take up the role as Vice Chancellor I could tangibly feel the welcome; and that comes about because of the sheer commitment of our staff and of our supporters in the City and county. Staff who go the extra mile, who think outside the box, who are ‘curious and daring’ and above all have the courage to test the boundaries whilst keeping our students at the heart of all we do.
At Staffordshire University, we believe in recognising and celebrating success, and it was a sheer delight to stand on stage at our Celebrating Staff Success awards last week and publicly congratulate our winners. If you weren’t at the evening you can find a full list and photos here on Iris – though I would like to add that everyone nominated is a winner. They were recognised because they are ‘ambitious’ both for themselves and the University and they are ‘inspirational’, inspiring colleagues to nominate them. We are lucky to have some fabulous champions of our University and it was a delight to have an honorary graduate, Nina Nannar, who is the arts, media and entertainment correspondent at ITV, present our awards for the tenth year running!
Our celebrations continue this week – I am sure you will have seen posters, lamp-post banners and heard the radio adverts on Signal radio publicising our new City Campus launch party which takes place on Wednesday. Staffordshire University has plans to paint the city red with a week of activity designed to showcase its transformed Stoke-on-Trent campus, our £40m investment in new facilities … and our place in the City!
I’ll be introducing broadcaster and presenter of The Great Pottery Throw Down, Sara Cox, who will be getting the party started on Wednesday when the University’s College Road site is further transformed with a ferris wheel, helter skelter, live music, street entertainment and food stalls. So, spread the word! We’ll be getting “all Stoked Up” and we want everyone to enjoy our launch celebration – you can find out more about the event and other events to follow here.
In case you haven’t picked up on it I am describing how our staff are demonstrating that they live the values of our new strategy. How they prepare, are dedicated to our students and continue to develop their skills, knowledge and expertise. They are ‘brilliant and friendly’, they are ‘ambitious and inspirational’, and challenge and improve what we do by being ‘curious and daring’ and they are clearly ‘Proud to be Staffs’.