Many things have changed over the last few weeks and this has felt alarming and unnerving for many of us. But one thing that remains the same is the support and help being offered to our student community from our amazing team.
The team like you have had to make many changes and some are easier than others to adapt to so we thought now is as good a time as any for all of us to get to know each other a little better and for you to still feel connected with your Student Services community.
Over the coming weeks we will share a member of the team with you which we hope you will enjoy and allow you to put faces to names. We are here to help and we want you to know that the coronavirus does not stop our efforts in supporting you and the wider student community.
We love to hear from you so please get in touch with ideas or if you would like to be featured yourself at Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org
We kick this feature off with Kev our Director of Student Services
What is your job and department? :
Director of Student Services
How long have you worked at the university? :
How has the Coronavirus changed things for you in work and at home? :
The whole situation has only recently hit me, I think, up until now I’ve been so focussed and busy with the planning and decision making with colleagues and our amazing Students’ Union, that I haven’t had chance to reflect on the impact on all of us. I was still in work up until recently and seeing the campus so eerily empty and having said good bye to so many colleagues and students, that I really care about, as they went off to start living, studying and working in completely new and unknown ways, really impacted me.
Working from home and, in many ways, has not changed much in the way I go about my work, I’ve been in meetings via Zoom, discussing future plans on what we do next and what we need to do to plan for recovering from this situation, whenever recovery starts! I’ve been answering a million emails, liaising with the NHS and South Wales Police on how we can support their efforts to tackle the crisis, drinking my usual amount of strong coffee etc. The bonuses of working from home are I get my dogs “Roger” (14yr old Terrier Beagle Cross) and “Bosh” (1yr old Terrier Cross) visiting me in my working space! I also get to hang out with my amazing 17yr old son, who because he doesn’t have to go to school is in the best mood! We decided on an exercise regime that we are going to do together at a regular time every day and some DIY jobs I will do to keep Deb (my wife) happy.
So all in all, it’s been a surprisingly Ok and I feel less concerned about not being in my office than I thought. I know I’m going to miss bumping into and chatting with colleagues I don’t directly work with and especially random chats with our brilliant students. I’m going to miss the real human contact but Zoom seems to offer a way to stay connected.
What are the biggest challenges for you doing your job during this time?
Only a few weeks ago we were studying, working, and living a completely different life, then at the drop of a hat we had to envisage a different world. The whole University came together to attempt to tackle something that we didn’t understand but we knew we had to work our way through! We have developed and rolled out methods & systems to enhance significant online delivery of teaching and learning, support, remote working from home and community engagements that were simply ideas for future planning a very short while ago! Our policies and practices have changed in the blink of an eye, we have worked together as real partners in ways that we were only attempting or talking about previously. In many ways we have jumped ahead of ourselves by about 5 years.
Throughout the process at every level of discussion, right up to engagement with the University’s Senior Management Team & VC you, our students, have been superbly represented by your awesome SUSU FTO’s and colleagues and all of us have had you and our staff community at the very centre of our thinking.
Advice and tips for our students at this time?
This is a really unsettling time for all of us but for our students possibly more so, especially as we are still working through plans.
My Top Tips
- Believe and trust that the University has your best interests at its heart, we will work as hard as we can to make sure you are not detrimentally impacted in any way.
- Look after yourselves and those you care for your health and wellbeing are far more important than anything else you feel you need to focus on.
- Look for new ways to connect with the world around you.
What do you miss the most during this adjustment?
That’s easy and again as I’ve said above the human interaction, the random conversations, the laughter shared with colleagues. I know I’m REALLY going to miss my surfing, I am missing it already, the idea of months without getting into the sea is already making me twitch. BUT what I’m going to do is focus on increasing my fitness levels so that when I do get back in I’ll be as fit as I was when I was 25.
What are the positive you are taking from this time or what positive are you hoping will come out of this?
I have a real difficulty in being anything other than positive I am not a worrier, these are personality traits that can really frustrate people (especially my wife). The positives so far: the instigation of exciting new ways of teaching, learning, supporting each other, much closer partnership working across the University system and outside it. The chance to accept a new and very different perspective on the way we go about our lives, a discovery of what is really important on a personal and professional level and the fact that we are in the unknown!
What comes next is really, as I say above, unknown but as Jim Morrison (a truly great poet and Rock God) says:
“Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They're going to destroy
Our casual joys
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town” (Jim Morrison, The Doors 1967)
I really have hopes that the “new town” that we emerge into, from this situation, will be a much more human organisation here in the University, a much more human focussed and better world. We are already seeing Mother Nature taking back control e.g. the Canals in Venice have fish and dolphins for the first time in decades, the air pollution in cities that have been shut down is breathable again and communities across the World and locally are engaging with and supporting neighbours and strangers in ways they haven’t for too long.