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Half-way through term already

Sir David Bell

Sir David Bell KCB

As we reach the half-way point in the term, I thought I would share one or two more personal reflections on life around the University.

With so much going on, it is important that we communicate as effectively as possible. Hence, 'In brief' our new all-staff monthly newsletter which summarises all the information you need to know in one place, including key developments and consultations.

The Ask the Board events are coming up next week. The focus there will be the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 but there will be an opportunity for you to raise ask questions and discuss other matters too.

I have been involved in a number of really interesting things since Christmas. These have included becoming President of the Association for Science Education at their annual conference on campus in early January, opening the new informal study space for students at London Road, and visiting Rothamsted Research to explore further collaborations between our two institutions in agriculture, food and related disciplines.

It was good too that I found myself, with colleagues, appointing a new Head for the Institute of Education, as well as getting involved in career mentoring for students (ably supported by many of our alumni).

I have also enjoyed our public lectures. Professor Lynne Murray gave an excellent one on the subject of The Psychology of Babies. Just last week, Professor Mona Siddiqui from the University of Edinburgh delivered a thought-provoking and powerful Chaplaincy Lecture looking at interfaith relations.

As with all such lectures this year, there was an excellent attendance. That demonstrates to me that there is a real appetite in the community to hear much more about all that we do as a University.

I had the honour to participate in the History Department's Hiroshima@70 event which commemorated and, indeed celebrated, our longstanding links with the University of Hiroshima. In the early 1950s, Reading donated some books and seedlings to Hiroshima. This was in response to the Japanese university's request for help in the aftermath of the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945.

In 2011, we received a gift of some roof tiles that survived the Hiroshima blast, along with a complete set of manga - or cartoon - comics.

One 'curiosity' highlighted at the Hiroshima event by Professor Patrick Major was the University's own connection to the nuclear age. On the Earley Gate side of campus is a structure just behind the Agriculture building. Built in 1953, it was intended to be Regional Seat of Government (RSG) 6, should London have been attacked and destroyed.

As weapons of mass destruction became more powerful, RSG6 would not have been able to provide the necessary protection. So, the facility had to move fully underground in a new structure that was at Warren Row, to the north-east of Reading. At least I know where to hide if things get tough on campus!

Finally, this is a busy period for Visit Days. Thank you to everyone who has played, and is continuing to play a part in the success of these events. Certainly the feedback I received on Saturday was incredibly positive, with many guests commenting on just how welcome they had been made to feel here at Reading.

Sir David Bell KCB
Vice-Chancellor
University of Reading

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