Presidents Blog 06/08/2021

Wish it was summer in Bristol...


Hi Everyone…

Hope you all had a great week. I want to start this week with something that was said at our Volunteer Recognition event last Friday. “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” The Association runs on the willingness of our amazing volunteers to give of their time and expertise, and I love this, and I am so grateful for that willingness to give time to representing students in every area of governance in the university and in many many other places. 

Monday started with my regular catch up with Deputy President Ian Cheyne, amongst other things we discussed behavioural governance. I then met with the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Association, Allan Blake. Due to the governance reforms that are ongoing, there are a lot of different meetings taking place to plan how these may happen. One of those was around the comms that we need to do. This was a productive meeting talking through the stakeholders and when we need to communicate with them. During my lunch break, I went to pick up my final pair of new glasses, I can now read my phone screen without having to hold it at arm’s length! This week I have been involved in interviewing so after lunch we had a shortlisting meeting, short and sweet! I regularly meet up with the OU’s nation directors and today was the turn of the OU in Wales Director Louise Casella. It was great to find out how things are going in Wales and how we can be involved as well as share some of our governance reforms and plans for our 50th celebrations. Marcia Wilson is the Dean of EDI for the OU, today we had the chance to discuss further issues around diversity and labelling and again share ideas for our 50th celebrations.

Tuesday I met with Sue McCabe to discuss the upcoming consultations and discuss other issues around the governance reforms. I then met with Frances Morton who is senior EDI manager in the OU, again, we meet regularly so that we can keep each other informed of what is going on where in the OU around EDI. Every other week I have a catch up with Dan Moloney and this week we spent time discussing comms for the governance reforms. The Association is doing some exploratory work on an App and we had a meeting to discuss where this was up to. It is an exciting time to be at the Association with all these fantastic things in the pipeline. 

Wednesday I spent some of the morning interviewing, I love doing interviews as it opens up so much possibility! I had a meeting with Beth Yearsley from Nottingham and spent some time discussing my appraisal and plans for the next academic year. Georgie is an executive support assistant for the Association and one of her roles is to help me manage my diary. This is a massive undertaking, but I think on Wednesday we made some headway! I also met with the governance reform team to discuss consultations and then I had a regular catch up with Rob, CEO of the Association. I do find that building relationships with the staff team have been invaluable to helping me with my role and Rob is my main support in that area. We won’t see each other for a bit now as we are both taking bits of annual leave over the summer. 

Thursday started with a meeting of a group of people to discuss Assessment Changes during the pandemic, some of these groups were involved in those changes and some were new to it. I had forgotten how many changes were made during that time to help support students. I then met with Beth Metcalf, Director of Membership Services, to plan an away day for the Student Leadership team in September, we also had a long conversation to do with behavioural governance. I then had a regular catch up with Sue McCabe, we discussed more governance reform and strategy. I was supposed to meet with Kate Dungate, head of Digi Comms for the Association, but my internet dropped out and wouldn’t reconnect until I had restarted my laptop – Kate then rearranged for Monday. My next meeting was very helpful and had no tech issues on my side! Heather Bloomer, who is a senior Digi Comms officer for the Association, talked me through how to publish an article on The Hoot and how to make the best of it. I have learnt loads!!! Thursday evening, I will be meeting with the four new members of the student leadership team to do a final wrap up of their training and to do a walkthrough of our Teams site. It’s always lovely having new members of the Team so it will be good to show them where everything is and how to find the things that they need.

Friday this week is a non-working day for me. This is a really good thing as I have reading to do. I am also making time for a cuppa with a very good friend and having my dead Mazda collected from the garage. It has been sat there for 10 years gathering dust and not in a fit state to drive. Since we now are having a garden office taking its place it’s time for it to go!!! 

Over the last few weeks, our student leadership team have been busy. Bev, the faculty rep for arts and social sciences, has been very busy being part of and running student drop-ins. Did you know about our online meetups?? You can find out more here

Katie, our science, technology, engineering, and maths faculty rep, had the opportunity to talk on Student Hub Live as part of a STEM event.

Cin, vice president education, has been training the new volunteer reps who will be sitting on governance committees throughout the OU.

I hope you all have had a great week and I look forward to bringing you another update next week. If you get a chance to put your feet up this weekend, I hope you enjoy it and that the weather is better than the stormy forecast in Bristol. 


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Sarah P Jones

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