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People pages

25 October 2019

Essex remains committed to inclusivity

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages — Communications, CER @ 2:46 pm

Despite uncertain times and within the context of a potential Brexit, our University remains committed to inclusivity and prides itself on being a home to people from all sorts of different backgrounds and countries.

Here, four members of our community tell us about the work they are doing to ensure Essex remains an inclusive and welcoming place.

Our One Essex campaign was born following the referendum result.

Monica Illsley is our Chief of Staff and Chair of our One Essex inclusivity group.

We pride ourselves on being a wonderfully diverse university community, it’s one of the reasons that staff choose to work here and why many of our students want to study here.

I think we ‘live’ these values as a community on a day-to-day basis and there are a number of University, Students’ Union and community-driven events and activities that take place across the University all the time that demonstrate our diversity and our inclusive spirit.

But occasionally, there are instances of behaviours, examples of things happening, that remind us that we cannot take these values for granted and that shock us into taking proactive action.

This is why the One World, One Spirit, One Essex messaging, first used in response to the Brexit referendum, remains relevant today. It helps bring our community together to champion inclusivity and the benefits of being a diverse cosmopolitan global community.

The One Essex Inclusivity Group that I convene and chair brings people together to find ways of reinforcing and celebrating our One Essex spirit

We welcome ideas and suggestions which staff and students can put forward either through the diversity network Chairs but also direct to me at illsmp@essex.ac.uk.

Karen Bush is our Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

What area of inclusivity are you working on?

Together with my colleagues in Organisational Development, we are working to build a culture in which equality, diversity and inclusion are central to everything the University does. This means embedding it within our ways of working, our decision-making processes and ensuring we recruit and reward people who  are committed to our values. This aspiration can only be realised if every member of our community takes personal responsibility for their behaviour and treats others with respect and as individuals, irrespective of differences in background, culture, experiences and views and this is my particular area of focus.

We are proud of our internationalism – we are a global family.

What are your priority projects or themes?

One key piece of work I am involved in this academic year is the Race Equality Charter. Through this, we are starting an institutional conversation about race equality. We will be looking at how we recruit staff and students from different ethnic groups, how we support them to progress, and how we create a race-inclusive culture.  As part of this work we are currently seeking the views of staff and students on race equality at the University. Tell us about your experience of working and/or studying at Essex and what we can do to advance race equality across the University by

completing the staff Race Equality Charter survey or the student Race Equality Charter survey.

I am also involved in work on inclusive leadership, which research shows is critical in helping leaders maximise the potential of the diverse talent in their organisation. Working in this way is also known to make people feel more valued and have more confidence and self-belief. We will be working across the University to cultivate inclusive capabilities in all our leaders and managers.

What are your hopes for the future of this work?

I would like to get to a point where we do not need to ask people to disclose their personal characteristics in order to identify where under-representation or differential outcomes exist as everyone is accepted without exception for who they are, people respect difference and treat others fairly and with dignity at all times.

Dr Ilaria Boncori is a Senior Lecturer in management, marketing and entrepreneurship, currently serving as a Dean deputised for education in the faculty of Arts and Humanities.

I have always been keen to understand how different  organisations foster or hinder inclusivity, with a personal approach stemming from critical perspectives that consider power dynamics both at the systemic and individual level.

Our annual staff strawberry picnic is one way our community finds time to get together.

Initially focussed on cross-cultural practices in international business, my research and teaching interests in terms of inclusion then developed into explorations of gender, gender identity (particularly transgender and gender non-conforming), ethnicity and intersectional identities. This predilection towards the study of various forms of inclusion (or lack thereof) has prompted me to create and edit our University’s collection of  volumes bringing together expertise and experiences from staff and students: ‘LGBT+ Perspectives’ (2017), ‘Race, Ethnicity and Inclusion’ (2018) and ‘Health and Wellbeing’ (forthcoming in 2020).

My priority, as a teacher and Deputy Dean Education, centres around our ability to develop and consistently deliver a truly inclusive curriculum underpinned by sound pedagogy. In order to do so, we have created a series of teaching and learning toolkits to support our educators, and we are currently involved in a number of initiatives to enhance our educational environment and provision. My vision for the future is of a University which enables all students to achieve their potential through the embedding of inclusive mindset and practices, with equal opportunities and no significant differential outcomes.

Erkan Ibrahim is our Inclusion Manager.

What area of inclusivity are you working on?

My role focuses on the inclusion of underrepresented students at the University of Essex, and I work with various key stakeholders including the Students’ Union, Organisational Development, Communications and External Relationships, Academic Departments and Schools and many colleagues within the Academic Section to ensure that all students feel a strong sense of belonging and have the best possible chance to succeed whilst at Essex.

What are your priority projects or themes?

We offer a very international welcome to new students from around the world.

One key priority at present is working with Inclusivity Leads within each Academic Department/School to identify the good practice that is taking place across the University, and work with them to address any challenges they currently have with regards to student success, engagement and belonging. Over the past year, we have established the Inclusivity Lead network, all of whom are academic staff members that we have been working with to improve communications between Departments/Schools and professional services, share examples of inclusive practices currently taking place in each Department/School and gain feedback from academic staff around their current challenges and opportunities in relation to the inclusion of their students.

I am also currently leading on the planning and organisation of our yearly Inclusion and Wellbeing Conference which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 29 April (save the date!). This year we shall be including information on challenges the HE sector faces around race disparities (and potential solutions around reducing them), how Universal Design for Learning can support us to meet the needs of all students and how we can build Enabling Environments here at Essex.

  • Any staff member wishing to find out more information about our work with Departments/Schools should see the Inclusivity Lead webpage on the Staff Directory or contact me directly e.ibrahim@essex.ac.uk to discuss anything else.
  • Students wishing to find out more about our work are more than welcome to get in touch with me directly, or get in touch with their Department/School Inclusivity Lead

Our Students’ Union family is another part of our diverse and inclusive community.

In terms of inclusivity – where would you like us to get to? What does inclusivity look like at Essex for you?

A place where no complaints of harassment, discrimination or bullying are made as all members of our community treat each other with respect and compassion, the environment that we live, work and study in meets the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of all, and all members of our community value and celebrate diversity.

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4 October 2019

First ever Deputy PVC Research appointed at Essex

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Research impact — Communications, CER @ 2:36 pm

Dr Leila Musavian has been announced as our first ever Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research. We speak to both her and our PVC Research Professor Christine Raines, to find out more about this crucial new appointment.

Dr Leila Musavian is our first Deputy PVC Research.

Professor Christine Raines; the Deputy PVCR is a new role that the University hasn’t had before. Could you tell us more about it and why it is important in the lead up to REF2021?

REF2021 is a key part of our strategy for Research and in this final year, as we run up to the submission on 27 November 2020, the PVCR is responsible for the delivery of our submission. Therefore to allow the space and time for focus on REF at the same time as developing our new Research Strategy the role of DPVR has been established to provide support for the PVCR. This will enable priorities for our Research agenda to move forward.

Dr Musavian, tell us more about yourself, how long have you been at Essex?

I am a reader at the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. I have been with the University of Essex since December 2016. My main research field is Wireless Communications. In recent years, my research is focused on challenges related to 5G and Beyond 5G communication technologies, in terms of investigating innovative enabling technologies, understanding the requirements for the future use-cases and investigating solutions for rural coverage.

Professor Christine Raines is our PVC Research.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

This year is an exciting and important year for the University as we develop our new Research Strategy and we finalise our submission for REF2021. I will work closely with the PVCR, Professor Christine Raines, to have a smooth transition throughout the year so that while we focus on these exciting new tasks, the normal day-to-day activities for implementing the current University Research Strategy are fulfilled.

What will be your immediate priorities?

My immediate priority is to provide support to Professor Christine Raines, the PVCR, for developing and maintaining policies and activities towards enabling our staff to carry out world leading research. I will work closely with academics and professional services staff to support the University’s mission for “excellence in education and research, for the benefit of individuals and communities”.

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20 September 2019

An holistic approach to student development

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 10:55 am

Daniel Fox, our Head of Student Development, tells us more about his new team and their priorities for the new Academic Year.

This summer saw the formation of our new Student Development team within the Student Life Directorate.

Daniel Fox, Head of Student Development.

Created through a restructure, Student Development incorporates Skills for Success, formerly known as the Talent Development Centre, alongside Careers Services, Faculty Co-ordination and Industry and Placements, formerly under the banner of Employability and Careers.

I just wanted to take a further opportunity to briefly highlight the work of this new team within the University as we move towards Welcome Week and the return of our students.

Through the creation of the Student Development service, we aim to achieve a more holistic approach to student development and, over time, a consolidation of initiatives with a greater emphasis on outputs and impact. This, alongside other new initiatives and ways of working, will allow us to become much more agile and focus our services when responding to student need.

As part of the restructuring we are changing the way students access our services in Colchester and Southend. On the Colchester campus the Employability and Careers Centre on Square 2 and the TDC Helpdesk on the ground floor of the Silberrad Student Centre have closed. The access point for initial enquiries is now the Student Services Hub (SSH) on each campus; since the creation of the Student Services Hub, it has been the intention to have a one-stop-shop approach, giving all students easy and clear access to services. This is also an opportunity to ensure parity of experience across our campuses is achieved, as well as extending opening times to students who want to access these services.

Clearly this is the start of an exciting journey where we aim to work closely with colleagues to ensure students are supported not only during their time here but also as they move into the next stage of their lives.

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23 August 2019

Can you help us welcome our new students?

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 11:52 am

Welcome and Registration volunteers – we need your help!

Could you spare some time to volunteer during Arrivals Day or Welcome this year?

The Registration and Student Experience teams are busy preparing for the start of the new academic year and are keen to hear from anyone who can donate some of their time to support Welcome and Registration events for our new students in October.

Help is needed on Arrivals Day, Sunday 29 September, as well as during Welcome Week. This is a great way to have positive contact with students who will be grateful for all the help and support they can get to make their transition into University life a smooth one.  It’s also a chance to work with staff and student volunteers from across the institution so it really is a win/win opportunity.

If you’d like to get involved in activities that aren’t part of your usual job please speak to your line manager and complete the online form and the team will be in touch.

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9 August 2019

Southend mural raises awareness of modern slavery

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Research impact — Communications, CER @ 10:46 am

Dr Stephen Jordan of our Centre for Social Work, has worked with SAMS Southend Against Modern Slavery Partnership to create a new mural in Southend highlighting the continued problem of slavery in our society. 

Where is the mural located?

The mural is under the railway bridge on Southend High Street.

Who painted it?

The artist was Nik Vaughn, who has created other murals, and he was also helped by members of Project 49, a community based organisation providing services for adults with learning disabilities, who helped in the painting and preparation.

What is the message the mural would like people to understand?

Sadly slavery did not disappear when it was officially abolished by parliament in 1833. Trafficking is often the means by which people end up in situations of slavery. People are trafficked by force, fraud, coercion or deception with the aim of exploiting them and it is estimated that tens of thousands of people have been trafficked to the UK, as well as vulnerable people, already resident in the UK, who have been exploited and forced to live effectively as slaves. Modern day slavery exists in the form of people who are used for forced labour in industries such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, illegal drug production, nail bars and car washes. Many women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Why is it important to raise awareness of modern slavery today?

Modern day slavery is a hidden crime and remains as one of the greatest evils of our time. By raising awareness through campaigns such as ours in Southend can we can start to help people recognise the signs of modern day slavery and reach out to the people who are victims.

What is the connection to the human rights work/social care research of the University?

The University held a conference last year on 12 December as part of our work with the Southend Against Modern Slavery Partnership. Social work has a long and proud history of safeguarding and challenging the abuse of children and vulnerable adults. Modern slavery is an issue of national importance. One example of modern slavery is that children’s care homes have been ‘actively targeted’ to coerce vulnerable children into becoming drug mules or for sexual exploitation. Many children are trafficked into the UK and there are a significant number of British nationals affected by modern slavery.

The project was featured in an article in the Evening Echo

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31 July 2019

Meet our new Head of Student Development

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 3:38 pm

Daniel Fox is our new Head of Student Development. We met up with him to find out more about his role and what plans he has for the future of Student Development at Essex.

Daniel Fox, Head of Student Development.

Who is Daniel Fox? / What did you do before coming to Essex?

This is my first role within Higher Education, and I am delighted to have become a part of the University of Essex family at a very exciting time. I have spent the last 20 years working in Secondary Schools, with the last 12 years in school leadership. A lot of my work in this time has focussed on student development, wellbeing and inclusion. I decided that after a long time in this sector I wanted a new challenge. The role of Head of Student Development not only provides the challenge I seek, but allows me to review and evaluate the impact of what is currently offered within the University and how we can further improve and develop that offer. I strongly believe that students deserve transformational education experiences and support to help them be successful not just at university but throughout their lives.

What will you be doing?

I will be leading the development of the new Student Development service, which leads and supports student development activities across the student lifecycle, facilitating effective transition into our learning community, enabling students to have the study skills and wider personal development opportunities they need to succeed. These activities will not only help students to achieve their academic potential, but will also build confidence, resilience and the necessary experience to progress successfully into the next stage of their life and career, which may include further study and the world of work.

As well as providing strategic direction and leading the continued development of the Student Development service in pursuit of the best possible experience for our students, I will support the delivery of our Education Strategy, specifically the institutional focus on student progression, success and graduate employability, and will work closely with relevant stakeholders to promote initiatives and projects to enhance student success and progression.

What are your priorities for the coming months?

As well as establishing the new service and meeting with key stakeholders, I will be focusing on:

  • Delivery of career development learning and embedded skills sessions – meeting commitments agreed with departments. Review and evaluation of embedded learning activity and determining needs for 2020 onwards.
  • Evaluation of impact – we must ensure that we make the most effective use of our engagement with students. Activities must be designed and implemented with a view to measurable impact and with the flexibility to adapt with the changing needs of our students and staff. We want to provide a service which reflects the needs of different academic disciplines and recognizes the fluidity of a student’s development journey. In order to do this, we must have a good understanding of trends and emerging risks, and be responsive and agile to addressing them.
  • Looking at making sure what we offer is clear and accessible and offers demonstrable benefit, and marketing/communicating this to students and staff.

Why has the University introduced this new role?

This new role is part of the University’s commitment to deliver excellence in education and the delivery to provide a transformational education.

We need to adapt to the changing and future needs of our students, in terms of how they learn and access support, as well as how we can effectively prepare them for their future careers and lives. As the environment in which we work changes to support new and changing priorities, the structural needs and services also need to develop so that they continue to be fit for purpose. Through the creation of the Student Development service, we aim to achieve a more holistic approach to student development and, over time, a consolidation of initiatives with a greater emphasis on outputs and impact.

What changes can we expect to see as a result of the creation of the new Student Development team?

Access to Student Development services will be integrated into our broader student services delivered by the Student Services Hub (across all three campuses) in a way that maximises and protects service profile and quality and engagement among students.

It has been the intention to have a one-stop-shop approach, giving all students easy and clear access to services. This is also an opportunity to ensure parity of experience across our campuses is achieved, as well as extending opening times to students who want to access these services and methods of access e.g. Livechat function will also be available.

What do students need to know about the changes? Where should they go if they want to discuss support?

Please direct students to the Student Services Hub for initial enquiries.

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28 June 2019

Reaching out to young people this summer

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 1:51 pm

Two summer schools will invite young people to our campus this summer to learn about and experience university life.

Over the next two weeks, the Outreach team will be welcoming around 150 students onto our Colchester Campus for a university residential experience that they will never forget.

Our summer schools are designed for students who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and are the perfect opportunity for them to discover more about university. They raise aspirations, knowledge and attainment through an innovative set of activities.

Two summer schools will give students the opportunity to immerse themselves into university life, both academically through taster sessions and socially as they will be staying in our University accommodation.

Our year 10 summer school, funded through Make Happen – the Essex partnership for the National Collaborative Outreach Program-  will see students taking part in a one-night residential, working with University of Essex academics to produce an academic poster arguing passionately for or against one of the following topics:

Year 12 visitors will experience the five-day programme filled with lectures, seminars, and independent research time to prepare them for university applications and degree-level academic writing. As part of the application process, students were invited to write a  500-word application on one of the following strands:

  • Mental Health Uncut: Critically consider the role of social media in the development of mental health problems.
  • Detention in the USA: Trump has detained many asylum seeking families, do you think this affects people’s Human Rights?
  • Global Meltdown: Young people in the UK are not affected by worldwide environmental concerns. Discuss.
  • Biological Sciences: A life for a life: Is the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research justified? Argue passionately for and against.
  • Business Studies: Write about somebody in business you admire: Tell us why you think they make a good business person. Think about their professional image, behaviour and reputation.
  • Literature, Film and Theatre Studies: Delve into the fascinating world of relationships by immersing yourself in one of our key texts. Critically analyse how relationships are depicted in your text by writing an essay. Or, you may feel inspired to write a poem, song, rap, short story, piece of drama, epilogue or prologue.

Both year groups will be living in our on campus accommodation, using the academic and social facilities and experiencing life as a University of Essex student. Current students act as role models throughout the summer school to share their experiences and inspire them to follow their footsteps into university.

Summer schools are part of the University’s outreach program of activity which is designed to work with underrepresented groups in higher education and give them to tools and confidence needed to progress to Higher Education. More information about the University’s outreach activities can be found on our outreach website.

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7 June 2019

Welcoming three new members to University Council

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — Communications, CER @ 11:16 am

We are delighted to announce three new members of our University Council.

The University of Essex Council is our executive governing body comprising 25 members, the majority of whom are external. Council is responsible for the management and administration of our revenue and property.

 

Melanie Leech

Melanie Leech CBE, Chief Executive, British Property Federation

Melanie was appointed as Chief Executive to the British Property Federation in January 2015. She is also a trustee of the property industry charity LandAid and prior to this she was director general of the Food and Drink Federation. During her early career, she served as a  police constable for the Metropolitan Police Service, then joined HM Customs and Excise as a civil servant in 1988, going on to hold a number of senior civil service roles, in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Office of the Rail Regulator, and the Cabinet Office.  In 2015, Melanie was awarded a CBE for services to the food and drink industry.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts

Stephanie has just been announced as the new Chief Executive of Women in Sport, a role she will take up in October 2019.  She was previously Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, a role she took up in 2004. She has championed nature’s recovery on land and at sea through improvements to legislation and by building corporate partnerships. Before her role with the Wildlife Trusts Stephanie was Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Wildlife and Countryside Link as well as holding non-executive positions including with the UK Green Building Council. She has served on three key Defra commissions and in 2010 received an OBE for services to nature conservation.

Kathryn Harrison-Thomas MD, Global Business Partner CIB, Regional Business Partner Americas, Asia Pacific and UK&I, Corporate Services, Deutsche Bank

Kathryn is a proactive, dynamic senior real estate and strategy professional with more than 25 years’ international experience within a variety of industry and financial services sectors. In her time at Deutsche Bank she has held a number of roles from Global Head of Organisational Development to Global Head of the Product Transformation Programme. In her current role she manages a team of 10 Business Partners, manages a multi-million pound budget, is responsible for global relationship management, is the global product-lead for corporate services; develops and manages the client management vision and strategy to meet business goals and client needs and is a member of the bank’s CSR Global Committee. Kathryn is also a champion of diversity and is Board

Stephanie Hilborne

Member for the UK Chapter of Corporate Real Estate Women’s Network.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, said:

“I am delighted to welcome all of our new members to the University Council. With their wide range of expertise and knowledge, Melanie, Stephanie and Kathryn will offer invaluable experience in supporting the work of Council and ensuring our University is well governed and focused on delivering our new University Strategy 2019-25.”

Judith Judd, Chair of Council, added:

“Our new Council appointments will bring an excellent new dimension to our University. Council plays an absolutely vital role and their experience and talents will offer us invaluable insight and direction.”

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30 May 2019

Routes for reporting an incident

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:49 am

We want to make it as easy as possible for any member of our community to report an incident. We have a number of routes for reporting, and we encourage anyone with a concern to consider making a report.

  • We launched our Report and Support system to make it as easy as possible for anyone, including visitors, to report an incident. The system is available on our website and reports can be made anonymously if preferred.
  • Our Student Conduct Office can receive and deal with complaints and full contact details are on our website. Our Code of Student Conduct is built on the principle that all students are expected to maintain a standard of conduct which supports the University’s commitment to excellence, promotes good order and the good name of our University. In accepting an offer of a place at Essex, every student is bound by our rules and regulations – including those in the Code of Student Conduct.
  • Our Human Resources section deals with formal complaints made by staff or students – about our staff. Our People Supporting Strategy seeks to ensure we have a diverse workforce in a safe, discrimination/harassment-free environment.
  • Our Security team provide 24/7 cover to our campuses and deal with complaints and incidents reported from across our University. All of our emergency contact details are on our website.
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22 May 2019

Celebrating Professor Jules Pretty’s time as Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, What's on — Communications, CER @ 3:52 pm

Please join us on Wednesday 12 June to celebrate Professor Jules Pretty’s contribution to the University, as he steps down from his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Jules Pretty is standing down as our Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Jules Pretty has played a vital role in our University for many years. He is Professor of Environment and Society, was Head of the Department of Biological Sciences from 2004-2008, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Science & Engineering) from 2010-2012, then Deputy Vice-Chancellor from 2012-2019.

Jules joined Essex’s Department of Biological Sciences in 1997, having worked for ten years at the International Institute for Environment and Development, where he was director of their sustainable agriculture programme from 1989. Before that, he worked at Imperial College.

At Essex, he set up the Centre for Environment and Society, which links across a variety of departments and disciplines. His sole-authored books include The East Country (Cornell Univ Press, 2017), The Edge of Extinction (Cornell University Press, 2014), This Luminous Coast (2011, 2014), The Earth Only Endures (2007), Agri-Culture (2002), The Living Land (1998), and Regenerating Agriculture (1995).

Professor Pretty is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Arts, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, former Deputy-Chair of the governments Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, and has served on advisory committees for BBSRC and the Royal Society.

He was presenter of the 1999 BBC Radio 4 series Ploughing Eden, a contributor and writer for the 2001 BBC TV Correspondent programme The Magic Bean, and a panellist in 2007 for Radio 4’s The Moral Maze.

He was appointed A D White Professor-at-Large by Cornell University from 2001, and is Chief & Founding Editor of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.

He received an OBE in 2006 for services to sustainable agriculture, and an honorary degree from Ohio State University in 2009.

A drinks reception will be held on Wednesday 12 June in The Hexagon from 4.45pm-6.00pm.  If you would like to attend Jules’ event, please RSVP to events@essex.ac.uk or if you would like further details please telephone Holly Ward on ext 3270 or email hollyb@esssex.ac.uk.

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