Vice-Chancellor's blog

Updates from the VC’s Office about the work and activities of the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey.

My First 100 Days

How time flies when you’re having fun!

This week, I realised that I have been at Surrey for 100 days. It has been busy, but a very rewarding three months.  I have particularly enjoyed getting out and about to meet with lots of people – staff, students, alumni, supporters and local residents – to know the University and wider community better.

During my first week here, I had a fun night at the Student Awards evening, and last month, at the University’s graduation ceremonies, I had the pleasure of meeting with the mums and dads of our class of 2016. Though perhaps not so pleasurable was being dragged onto the waltzer by our Sabbatical team at the Graduation Ball. It took a couple of days for my head to stop spinning.

With the President of the Students’ Union, Mustie Smith, at the Student Awards Evening

In between the Awards night and recovering from the waltzers, I calculate that I have delivered over 50 speeches and presentations at exciting events such as the launch of vHive – Surrey’s new innovation centre for animal health in partnership with Zoetis – and the opening of our new metrology laboratory in collaboration with NPL.

Opening the new vHive lab in April with Alejandro Bernal from Zoetis

“The First 100 days” is a term first coined by US President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1933 and today the expression is widely used in political and leadership contexts. I believe that the first 3 months in any new leadership role is vital to listen and learn, and to start setting the stage for future successes.

With this in mind, I have worked closely with my Executive Board colleagues to reshape the structure of the Board and develop a clearer scope of responsibilities and key performance goals in line with our strategic ambitions. Whilst we still have had a few posts to fill, I am pleased that we have successfully recruited a new CFO, two new Executive Deans and Dean of Surrey Business School and Vice-Provost (Education and Students). We look forward to them joining the team soon.

It is indeed the collective efforts of many people include staff, students, Alumni and supporters who help us to achieve our goals. I am personally committed to positioning the University of Surrey as the university of choice for employment, with an inclusive and supportive culture. I was delighted to announce recently a range of Equality and Diversity initiatives such as signing up to the 30% club and offering travel fellowships, and to have the opportunity to work with colleagues to drive the follow-up actions on our 2015 Staff Survey.

In the wider landscape, I have valued the opportunity to meet with fellow Vice-Chancellors, the CEO of HEFCE and Chair of RCUK, as well as government ministers such as Jo Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and John Whittingdale to discuss a range of issues of concern to Higher Education in the UK such as the impact of Brexit. I am delighted to have been invited to join Jo Johnson on his delegation to China in late September.

Meeting John Whittingdale

Meeting Mr John Whittingdale MP on his visit to the 5G Innovation Centre in April

I have greatly enjoyed my first three months here at Surrey, learning about the university and meeting new people.  I am very honoured and excited about leading such a fine institution into the future. Now that honeymoon period is over, the real work truly begins. I am working on refreshing our institutional strategic plan for the next 10 years, and will engage with you all soon to get input to help us sharpen our vision for the future.

Happy summer holidays!

Meeting Surrey Storm players at the Netball Superleague Semi-Final in May #gosurreystorm

With HRH The Duke of Kent and Sir Chris Snowden on receiving his Honorary Degree

With HRH The Duke of Kent and Sir Christopher Snowden receiving his Honorary Degree