Last week was election season at the University of Hull, with various representative positions going up for grabs as the new academic year gets underway. Though a few hundred votes were cast it was not unusual for a candidate – such as myself – to be co-opted unopposed.
On Friday I received a message from Hull University Union congratulating me on becoming the School Representative for Mathematics. This afternoon I attended a training session in student central where I met my new colleagues and was briefed on what the job would entail.
First we were addressed by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Susan Lea. She told us she would be happy to talk with anyone encountered her, provided she wasn’t rushing to a meeting.
After having our official portraits taken, we split off into faculty groups to discuss our priorities for the year. Steven Storey, the Faculty Representative for Science & Engineering, told us about the work involved in lobbying teachers, managing student expectations and getting reforms delivered to schedule. We were also given copies of the National Student Survey to review and discuss areas of improvement for our schools. There seemed to be a general consensus that our success as representatives depended on how regularly we could get students to check their e-mails.
With the original meeting completed, we were led downstairs to talk with some of the senior staff. It appears that I arrived during a long transitional phase at the University, as most of my new colleagues remembered the system being rather different last year, as well as a different system of names and abbreviations. Some said my status as a newcomer might be an advantage in that it saved me from having to learn everything twice.
Tomorrow I return to student central for “Chair Training”. Hopefully that will be more important than it sounds.