Reflections on my first month

I have been in post now for four weeks. While short, it has been a memorable period with events ranging from attending the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on your behalf or watching carefully as the new government has put its priorities in place to see what this means for Higher Education.

Alongside these national events, we’ve welcomed our students back to campus and enjoyed the Welcome Fair and all the amazing activities that the Students’ Union have put in place. I finished my first round of local and student media interviews, including with BBC Points West, Radio Bristol, Heart FM, Bristol 24/7, Epigram, UBTV and the Tab; and for colleagues who missed it, you can view my Town Hall introduction and Q&A session on the staff intranet.

Elsewhere, we’ve also had good news from Research England’s Knowledge Exchange Framework exercise which shows that Bristol is second only to Oxford in the amount of investment that our spin-out companies attract, testimony to the brilliance and impact that our research is achieving.

On a more sobering note, I’ve been speaking to UNISON colleagues on their picket lines last week. I’ve heard understandable worries about pay, cost-of-living concerns and workload pressures. While the issues around pay can only be negotiated at a national level, my colleagues will be working with all our trade unions to see what local measures we can take to help staff get through the winter and beyond.

Finally, I’ve had just over 170 messages to the VC-Feedback inbox and I’ve done my best to reply to each of you individually. I remain so impressed with the deep affection that you all have for the University of Bristol, one that I now understand and share myself. That gives me great confidence that we will be able to navigate any shifting funding or political challenges together. The dedicated mailbox is now closed but you can always contact me on vice-chancellor@bristol.ac.uk

In this short video, filmed in the study spaces of Senate House, I’ve tried to capture what this month has felt like.

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