Students Staff

26 April 2018

Meet our Sustainability and Grounds section

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 4:50 pm

We spoke to our Sustainability and Grounds section to find out more about them and their work at Essex.

You’re a new team aren’t you? How many of you are there?

Our Sustainability and Grounds team

Our Sustainability and Grounds team

Yes, we’re a shiny new section which has brought together a number of teams that now, broadly, has a focus of environment and energy across our three campuses. We are collectively responsible for grounds, transport, carbon reduction and sustainability engagement, creating a dedicated focus on improving the experience of staff and students at the University.

The team is packed with names you probably already know: Rob Davey (Head of Sustainability and Grounds), Marcus Clayton (Grounds Manager), Charlotte Humphries (Transport Policy Manager), Dan Dempsey (Carbon Change Advisor), Daisy Malt (Sustainability Engagement Officer), plus of course the Grounds team. We also currently have an intern, former Essex student Charles Ballardini. In total there are 16 of us.

Why have you all been brought together?

The creation of a dedicated Sustainability and Grounds section was part of a wider restructure in Estates and Campus Services, showing a clear commitment to the importance of sustainable development in its strategic vision. The University has made a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 43% against a 2005 baseline by 2020, and while this is a substantial challenge, it creates so many opportunities to try new things and make the University more efficient. Beyond this, as an educational institution teaching the leaders of the future, we have a responsibility to inform students of the importance of valuing our environment, and taking that knowledge into their careers. We have big plans and we are so excited about the opportunities we have to make our University a leader in Sustainability.

What are your  main responsibilities? Can you tell us a little bit more about each of your roles?

Our mission is to make our campuses fantastic places to study, work and live. With a variety of responsibilities we have a wide remit overall, but our focus is to consider environmental impacts and social responsibility at all levels – from the strategic development and management of our 230 acres of diverse, historic parkland, to encouraging everyone travelling to our campuses to do so in the most sustainable way. Some things go on behind the scenes, while others are more about engagement and raising awareness. For example, last year the Grounds team installed new equipment to wash down machinery that recycles water, saving us around 100,000 litres of water per year. Dan has overseen lighting upgrades in academic areas and South Courts accommodation which will result in a reduction of 600 tonnes in CO2 emissions, and cut energy costs by £120,000 – every year. Meanwhile, Daisy manages the Green Impact programme which is going from strength to strength.  At the moment, staff in 37 teams are busy completing their actions to embed sustainability in their operations.

Is there anything we can be doing to make your jobs easier?

Respect and care for your surroundings. The Sustainability and Grounds teams’ focus is to improve our environment for everyone and to make sustainability the mainstream. Simple things like putting litter and recycling in the correct bins, switching off unused equipment and travelling sustainably are the small actions that add up to make a significant impact.

Also, just talk to us! Not sure what a carbon footprint is? Had an idea? If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, we’d love nothing more than to hear from you. We will be increasingly visible on campus and our mission is to empower everyone to become more aware of how they can reduce their impact on our environment.

Tell me something funny or unusual about your team?

The Grounds team is an adventurous bunch, and between them they have visited over 50 countries. Continuing the global theme, Dan speaks Japanese, Charles has lived in New Zealand and Daisy has a worryingly large collection of snow globes from most of the countries she’s visited!

What big projects do you have coming up?

The Grounds team are embarking on revamping more areas around South Courts to make them more inviting. They are also working on exciting improvements to the entrances at our Colchester campus. We have another project that is just getting under way assessing opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and introduce new energy metering systems. Plus, we are developing transport measures to improve sustainable travel options for everyone.

What projects are you all most proud of?

Winning the Green Flag Award was a huge triumph for the Grounds team, with the maintenance of Wivenhoe Park being praised as one of the best sites for environmental practice that the judges had seen.

We are also incredibly proud of all the teams participating in the Green Impact programme. This has gone from strength to strength each year, and has developed a community of socially responsible colleagues who are able to identify ways to run their offices with sustainability in mind.

What is your one tip for others working at the University?

If you’re buying a takeaway hot drink on campus, take your own coffee cup to save 10p, and more importantly, you’re helping to reduce waste.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

25 April 2018

Remembering Dr John Tilley

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 9:45 am

The people who knew him, share their memories of Dr John Tilley.

Dr John Tilley

Dr John Tilley

John joined the University of Essex in the Autumn of 1965 as a new member of the Department of Physics, one of the University’s founding departments. John was one of our best teachers in the Department of Physics, perhaps the best. Illness, which eventually confined John to a wheelchair, did not impact on his dedication and even made him an early adopter of the ‘state of the art’ technology at the time, namely using transparencies on an overhead projector. John quickly realised that the danger was flashing too many transparencies past the bemused students, and rationed himself to a certain number of slides per lecture and figured out other techniques for keeping the pace down.

John was always generous with his time for students, and many of them had great affection for him. He had an open door policy both to colleagues and students. As well as being an excellent teacher, John provided strong leadership in mentoring and was influential in the construction of degree courses and modules, acting for many years as the undergraduate course director.

John’s biggest academic achievement, alongside one of his colleagues was the book they wrote together on Superfluidity and Superconductivity.  The first edition came out in 1974 and the book is still used, quite likely due to the section John wrote on the Bose-Einstein condensation.  It really is a definitive account, and of course Bose-Einstein condensation is still of current interest.

John did not confine his activities to the Department of Physics but also found time to be a founder of classical musical programmes on campus. Funds were allocated to enable The Gabrieli String Quartet to be engaged and this became the backbone of a series of concerts open to the local community, called The Subscription Concerts. The Subscription Concerts were a series of around ten concerts a year, based around the Gabrieli, but also included many well-known established musicians, such as John Lill, Julian Lloyd Webber, Leon Goossens, Peter Pears and many others.   John, alongside another Physics colleague, became largely responsible for the programmes, the choice of artists and the running of the concerts. Besides the Quartet, musicians included the pianists John Ogden and Vladimir Ashkenazy – this concert was filmed and shown on TV.  By this time the university had purchased a second-hand Steinway Grand Piano to supplement a rather fragile Bosendorfer. On the strength of the Subscription Concerts the University also acquired a musician in residence for two or three years, the composer Gordon Crosse, who greatly helped John and his colleagues, in choosing artists and programmes. Through John’s efforts, popular free lunchtime concerts were also held in what was then the Maths Common Room.

A former Physics student described John as, “warm and kind and quick to laugh. I loved his calm, consistent presence directly across the corridor from my lab. I am truly honoured that both he and Jean became my friends.”

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20 April 2018

Welcoming look for new Campus entrances

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 10:30 am

As work on the entrances to the Colchester Campus nears completion, Rob Davey, Head of Sustainability and Grounds tells us more about the project.

Entrance pic weekly

Artist’s impression

Tell us about the overarching strategy for the project?

The Campus Entrance Improvement Project covers four main elements:

  • Arrival Experience. The aim is to create an arrival experience befitting a world class university. We want people to know when they enter our Colchester Campus and that they have arrived. We want this to be both physical and visual and we are doing this with fencing, hedging, thresholds, new signs and landscaping.
  • Boundary Definition. As a landowner we have duties and we need to discharge these appropriately. The project will clarify our boundaries at our entrances. By installing thresholds in the roads and new fencing and hedging, not only will we be properly defining our boundaries but also creating a defined arrival experience.
  • New Signage. At present the signage at both our entrances is a little disjointed and unclear. The proposed signage aims to rectify this with a new sign at both the Colchester and Wivenhoe entrances. The design is in keeping with the university’s brand toolkit and we hope will reduce confusion for visitors coming to campus and being clear on which entrance to use.
  • New Landscaping. The Colchester Campus is blessed by being set within an historic parkland. We are therefore installing some new landscaping, but just enough to let the new signs sit comfortably in their setting. We believe the existing historic trees and views should be the focus landscape wise.

Tell us more about the thresholds? 

The thresholds are a key part of the overall project, not only creating an arrival experience both physically and visually but also to assist defining our boundaries. By using a natural granite sett the feature will be robust while also offering longevity.  The threshold is a fairly standard feature within highways and roads and is used widely.  There are two different types of granite setts – a slightly undulating unit and a smoother unit. The smoother unit is being used for the areas nearest to the kerbs  to allow for cyclists which was a key consideration. They, of course, meet industry standards and are slip resistant.

As they highlight when you arrive on campus, we hope that, to some extent, the thresholds in the roads will clearly signal when you have entered a 20 mph speed limit zone.

Who has designed the work?

The thresholds have been designed by The Landscape Partnership and are being installed by Rose.

Who has been consulted to ensure safety?

Due to the location of the threshold works we are very conscious of safety. We have therefore consulted with Highways on the impact our work may have on local roads and had a specialist traffic management company design the warning signage and traffic management. Only one carriage at a time is affected to limit the impact on our community. A conscious decision was also  made not to use traffic lights for the works as these were deemed too rigid for our traffic patterns.  Instead a priority system is in place whereby priority is given to traffic entering the campus in the morning and leaving in the evening.

What are the benefits of this work?

We believe that once the project as a whole is completed, it will really give us entrances to be proud of for current staff and students as well as visitors and future students.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

6 April 2018

In memory of Perci Abrahams

Filed under: People pages — Communications, CER @ 12:24 pm

It is with great sadness that colleagues in Academic Section announce the death of Perci Abrahams; the University’s timetabling officer, from 2006 to 2015.

Perci was well known across the University, and respected for his helpful and unstinting work to support students and colleagues in managing the teaching timetable and room bookings.

Perci took ill health retirement at the end of 2015, which enabled him to enjoy time with his family. He died peacefully at home.

Perci’s funeral will be held at:

Requiem mass at 11:30am on Wednesday 18 April

The Catholic Church of St Teresa of Lisieux

16 Clairmont Road, Colchester CO3 9BE

Followed by a service at:

The Colchester Crematorium

Mersea Road, Colchester CO2 8RU

There will be refreshments after this in the church hall at St Teresa’s.

Everyone is welcome to attend any or all of these occasions.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.