Update from Valerie Cotter, Director of Faculty Operations

Update from Valerie Cotter, Director of Faculty Operations

Have you ever wondered the people in the Faculty office actually do behind the red doors of the HRI? Have you ever speculated about what us Faculty folk are for?

Well, we’re a diverse group of staff that can provide expertise and practical support that it might not be possible for departments or schools to deliver on their own. We work very closely with colleagues in a wide range of corporate professional services so that they are informed by what makes sense in practice. Most of all, we are here to do all we can behind the scenes to help staff and students across our disciplines to achieve our shared ambitions for excellent learning and teaching informed by world-class research.

In what I hope will become a regular newsletter feature, I would like let you know about some of the projects and activities that are being co-ordinated by the Faculty team. I’d also like introduce members of the team and to put a spotlight on some of the excellent work they are doing.

My own job is very varied. Working closely with the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor, much of my time is taken up with making sure that we have good governance structures and are working effectively across the Faculty to shape strategy and plan our resources to help deliver it. This means lots of day to day meetings and problem solving!

But I also make time to take forward specific cross-faculty projects that are aimed at improving how we do things. As I write, this type of work includes leading the group that is thinking through all of the operational aspects of proposed changes to how we will deliver programmes in Religion, Theology and the Bible, and chairing a cross-faculty group that will make recommendations to the Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee about how we can improve student evaluation of modules and programmes.

Like the other Directors of Faculty Operations, I’m actively involved in a number of corporate projects and working groups too. The University’s student systems review is just one example, as we look at the important question of how best to invest in a student records system that is fit for the future. It is great that Rebecca Trueman, who combines being departmental manager for History with work in the Faculty team, will be working as part of the University team that is developing the detailed proposals.

Our team has put a great deal of effort into working with departments to improve our undergraduate recruitment. For example, our open days and conversion activity is much more targeted and effective than it was before 2012. Now, attracting excellent postgraduate students is a big challenge and working with departments to improve how we position and market our excellent postgraduate taught programmes is a priority. We are very pleased to have recruited Helen Heaton as our new Student Recruitment Support Manager. Helen brings a wealth of social marketing experience from her previous job in local government and will help us to make the most of the web and other media in getting our message across.

Helen’s team also works on widening participation and school engagement. Andrew Cheung helps with outreach activities in the Faculty, working closely with departments and Kate Smith from the University’s outreach team, to run events for young people that raise aspirations and interest in university. And Linda Billam is doing fantastic work to engage schools and subject teachers who are so important for recommending the University and our programmes to future students.

So that’s a brief glimpse into just some of our current work. I hope to tell you about more of our people, projects and plans in future editions.