Start of term message from acting Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort
Monday, 01 October 2018
Acting Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort has this morning written to all staff with an update on key developments at the University of Reading.
A copy of the message is as follows:
As we start a new academic year, I hope you were able to take some time out to relax and unwind over the summer.
Following Sir David Bell’s recent departure on 21 September, I have taken the role of acting Vice-Chancellor of the University until a permanent appointment is made. I am looking forward to working with you all to ensure that our University continues to go from strength to strength. I also thought it would be helpful to outline some of the priorities for the University in the next few months.
Over the summer, our programme to invest in our campus facilities really started to deliver its first results. The ground and first floors of the Library have reopened with a fantastic new café and around 350 study spaces; the Ditchburn and Slingo (formerly: Right-hand) lecture theatres in the JJ Thomson building have had a complete makeover; Dol.che Vita Café has a modern new look after a major refurbishment; RUSU’s 3Sixty received a complete refurbishment to make it a modern student union venue; Modern Languages and European Studies have moved to the Miller building where we have created some exciting new rooms for students; some 35 new offices have been created for the Henley Business School in Edith Morley; and the Edith Morley building becomes our most energy efficient following a major solar panel installation. A huge thank you to the many colleagues working so successfully on these projects.
Looking ahead, we are working with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to develop a world-leading weather forecasting centre on our Whiteknights campus, cementing our reputation as a world-leading centre for meteorology and climate science. This development still needs final approval by the ECMWF council, but the signs are good that the centre will find its long-term base on campus. Another major partnership, with the British Museum, is also underway to develop a significant new collection storage and research facility. It is a first-of-its-kind partnership between a national museum and a UK university to deliver study and research benefits to students, academics and members of the local community.
These are exciting developments that we want to continue to build upon. The challenge for us, however, is to manage all our activities within our existing finances. Recruitment and clearing have been particularly difficult this year across the sector, and we have fallen short of our recruitment target by about 500 undergraduate places. Another major financial pressure is the proposed change to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which would see both employer and employee contributions increase considerably next year. Some Schools and Functions are well-placed to meet these challenge but for others it will prove more demanding, and cost-cutting in some areas will be unavoidable. That is why our annual planning process provides the best means to address these demands, allowing Schools and Functions to develop financial plans tailored to their own needs rather than trying to find a ‘one size fits all’ answer across the whole University.
I am keen to start this conversation with you as soon as possible so three staff briefing session are scheduled in November for us to discuss this and more:
- Thursday 1 November (10:30-11:30) – National Grid, Greenlands
- Monday 5 November (13:00-14:00) – Van Emden Lecture Theatre, Edith Morley, Whiteknights
- Friday 9 November (13:00-14:00) – L022 (G01), London Road
All colleagues are welcome to attend, and I look forward to seeing you then.
Robert Van de Noort