In Brief
In Brief July 2018
In Brief is a monthly all-staff news
round-up, giving you concise summaries
of the essential information you need.
All articles are short and are clearly categorised as ‘for action’,
‘for information’ or simply ‘nice to know’.
Contact for more.
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Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, to leave University

After nearly seven years in post, Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, will be leaving the University in the autumn to take up the post of Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Sunderland.

Sir David commented: "I would like to thank all of the staff and students who I have worked with in my time here. Through their collective efforts, we have maintained and enhanced our position in so many different ways.”

The University Council is beginning the process of recruiting Sir David's replacement and will aim to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. During this process, Professor Robert Van de Noort will be appointed as Acting Vice-Chancellor.

Please read the full story on the staff portal, and keep checking back for further updates.

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Peak demand for IT hardware

As we head towards the end of the financial year, there is an anticipated increase in demand for IT hardware – e.g. desktops and laptops – in order to meet business requirements. This can create logistical challenges for our suppliers and the University’s IT Department.

Whilst our suppliers and the IT Department are preparing for this period, it is important that these purchases are planned as much as possible so that purchasing and deployment process can be as smooth as possible.

Please submit any outstanding orders by Friday 13 July.

Contact Procurement for more information.

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Funding available for diversity initiatives

The University is inviting bids for funding between £500 and £1,000 for projects and initiatives themed around diversity and inclusion. Your bid could include supporting staff time for projects, covering costs for producing materials or hosting diversity and inclusion related events. In this round of funding, we are particularly keen on applications with a component or focus on race, ethnicity or religion.

To apply, please complete the attached form and return to by 17:00, Friday 3 August.

See the staff portal for more information.

Academic Tutor System Guidance

The Academic Tutor System (ATS) Steering Group have developed Guidance for Schools and Functions (University log-in required) to support the introduction of the ATS from September 2018.

School Boards for Teaching and Learning (SBTLs) have received this guidance and have discussed the implementation of the ATS at their summer term meetings. Actions for schools and functions are outlined in the guidance (page 8) and available on the staff portal.

In addition to supporting local briefing sessions, CQSD are hosting central briefing sessions to introduce the ATS to staff (Wednesday 18 July, Thursday 23 August and Thursday 20 September) – places can be booked via the Employee Self Service portal.

Help shape our learning management system

The Learning Management System (LMS) project is looking for volunteers to join its Project Group. If you can help develop the governance for a new system, shape the training/courses offered or be an early adopter of the system, we would like to hear from you. A wide range of roles are available, and experience of digital training systems or managing training needs would be helpful. The Project Group will run until summer 2019.

The LMS project aims to enable all staff training to be accessible in one place, with improved visibility of available training, specialist courses and better reporting capabilities. A social learning platform will facilitate collaborative learning across the institution.

Contact Kate Jones for more information.

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PDR Overview for Reviewers training

If you are responsible for carrying out a Performance and Development Review (PDR), a short training module is now available online to guide you through the process. PDR Overview for Reviewers provides useful information and guidance on preparation, feedback and setting performance objectives. The course is suitable for both academic and professional service colleagues and can be accessed through our online e-learning portal. It should take around 20 minutes to complete.

In addition, we want to know what you think of our current staff development and training offering. Please complete our short survey by Friday 20 July – see the staff portal for details.

Contact People Development for more information.

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Teaching & Learning Facilities Survey

Please complete the Teaching and Learning Facilities Survey, which helps us keep track of whether teaching and learning facilities meet the needs of our staff and identifying new improvements. The survey is open until Tuesday 31 July.

2018 work highlights include:

Positive feedback for ongoing AV upgrades.
Significant changes to Miller G05 and Allen Lab G09.
Online interactive guide for setting up online meetings using Skype for Business.
Phones installed in centrally managed teaching spaces – to date, in Chancellor’s, Edith Morley and Agriculture.

A summary of last year’s results is available in the Teaching & Learning Facilities Survey 2017 – Results blog post.

Contact Helena Bampton for more information.

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Staff recognised for huge effort to process student marks for Graduation

As we celebrated the achievements of our students at Graduation this month, we were also reminded of all the hard work from colleagues across the University to reach this stage.

A big thank you to everyone involved with marking assessed work, processing marks and collating student results, to ensure all 4,000 graduating students received their final degree classification well in time for their Graduation ceremony. In total, more than 310,000 marks have been processed - which is an amazing achievement.

There was significant additional work involved this year, due to the industrial action last term and the introduction of some new processes. We are very grateful to colleagues for their support as we navigated these challenges.

Funding for seven staff welfare projects

We would also like to thank all colleagues who submitted ideas for staff welfare projects through the Staff Forum‘s recent campaign. After reviewing nearly 50 proposals, the University Executive Board has agreed to fund seven staff welfare projects to the value of £75,000.

Most proposals focused on two main themes:

Improved spaces – facilitating more use of campus grounds for working, relaxing or exercising, through improvements like outdoor furniture.
Events and activities – offering opportunities to meet with colleagues, feel part of a larger community or focussed around health and wellbeing.

An Implementation Group – with representatives from Human Resources, Estates & Facilities, and Finance – will now work with the Staff Forum to develop next steps.

Contact James Magee or Steve Guest for more information.

Gender Neutral and Disabled toilets maps

The Whiteknights and London Road campus maps on the University website have been updated to show which of our buildings have a Gender Neutral or an Accessible Toilet.

This is part of our ongoing efforts to make our University a more inclusive environment for all our staff, students and visitors. We have around 93 Accessible toilets and 68 Gender Neutral toilets, a figure that would go up when a building on the campus is refurbished.

Contact Communications for more information.

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Over 6,100 attend University Open Days

Thank you to all who helped out over our Open Days last month. Over 6,100 visitors came to the University – of these, 2,693 were prospective students. The atmosphere on campus was great and we received many positive comments from visitors. The helpfulness and friendliness of staff and students across campus, once again, featured highly in the some of the initial feedback.

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to keep in touch with those who registered to attend, with further opportunities and targeted information, including other opportunities to visit.

Contact Lissy Upton for more information.

Mentoring at University of Reading

Mentoring is a great way of helping new starters settle into their role and gain confidence by understanding the context around them. The relationship between mentor and mentee is often mutually beneficial, as each side learns from the other. Mentoring is available for newly appointed managers, new starters in Grade 6 roles with a University-wide remit, plus those in roles above Grade 7, new research staff and new academic staff.

Line managers are responsible for organising a mentor, and assistance is available from People Development. It is recommended mentors for new starters in September are arranged before the start of the autumn term (Monday 1 October).

Contact Lynn Moore for more information.

Sponsorship available for diversity and inclusion leadership programmes

As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, the University offers sponsored places on three major leadership development programmes:

Aurora: Women-only development initiative, encouraging women in higher education to think of themselves as leaders and to develop leadership skills.
StellarHE: Development programme targeted at black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals who aspire to senior leadership positions in higher education.
Diversifying Leadership: Aimed at early career academics and professional services staff from BAME backgrounds.

Full details of each programme and how to apply for a place will be shared over the coming weeks.

See the staff portal for more information.

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New view for online reading lists

A new and improved interface for students using the Library’s online reading lists system (Talis) has been rolled out this month.

The new view was well received in recent usability testing with students, and includes:

Library holdings and access information in top-level list view.
Book jackets displayed in top-level list view.
Improved filtering options.
Improved integration with screen-reading software, and on mobile devices.

Reading list owners do not need to take any further action, and guidance on editing reading lists is available online.

Contact Kim Coles for more information.

'Teaching and Learning for All' symposium

The effective use of technology can play a key role in reducing the barriers to student participation and success. Knowing how and in what ways current technologies makes learning accessible can act as a springboard to inclusive practice that can benefit all students.

On Thursday 12 July, please join us for the Teaching and Learning for All symposium, a special one-day event designed to raise awareness about accessibility and inclusivity in teaching and learning, including advice on making practical adjustments within tools such as Blackboard and Microsoft Office 365. Visit the Technology Enhanced Learning blog for full details and booking information.

Contact CQSD T&L for more information.

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Help us recognise outstanding volunteers

From mentoring students to speaking at events, volunteers make a vital contribution to the University community. If you know of a volunteer who goes above and beyond to make a difference, or an alumnus who, through their volunteering, is raising Reading’s profile, please nominate them for a Distinguished Volunteer Award.

Nominations are open until Thursday 30 August. The Awards will be presented at the the Alumni House of Lords Reception on Friday 12 October and winners will receive two tickets to this highly popular event. You can find out more about the award and make a nomination on the Alumni and Supporters page.

Contact Jenn Runde for more information.

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Solar power comes to Edith Morley

The Edith Morley building may become the University’s most energy efficient building following the installation of 460 solar panels on its roof. We expect the system to provide 20% of the building’s annual electricity consumption, peaking at around 60% on a sunny summer’s day.

Edith Morley currently has a ‘B’ Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rating, and the combination of the solar panels, double-glazing and improved insulation should help it become our first ‘A’ rated building in summer 2019.

The University currently has 4 PV installations - on Carrington, Estates & Facilities, SportsPark Pavilion and Windrush buildings - which generated 52,100 kWh electricity last year; equivalent to approximately 17 households.

Contact Dan Fernbank for more information.

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