Registrar and Secretary
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I have three broad responsibilities:
- Primarily, I am the head of the University's administration, which is a broad spectrum of staff also called the Professional Services. This encompasses the Corporate Services (which includes functions such as finance, human resources, marketing, estates, IT, planning, academic administration and student-related services) and the administration devolved to the four academic Colleges each headed by a Director of Administration, who reports jointly to me and to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor/Head of College.
- Secondly, I am a member of the University's senior management team, VCAC, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor.
- Finally, I am secretary to the governing body of the institution, Council. In this role I am accountable to the Chair of Council, rather than the Vice-Chancellor.
I was born in Birmingham well before the Beatles split. The legacy of a Brummie youth has been a dodgy accent when singing, and the heartache of following the Blues. Before my voice broke I moved to Bridgwater in Somerset, which meant another dubious accent and an allergy to mangolds.
I progressed from Comprehensive to College but can't remember ever wanting to do anything other than to join the army (to visit far off, exotic places, meet fascinating new people and avoid being shot). So I marched straight out of my A level exams into the Army Recruiting office in Weston-Super-Mare, and took the Queen's shilling. I spent three years with the 3rd Battalion the Royal Green Jackets, serving in Celle in the former West Germany and Belfast in Northern Ireland. Letters from mates who had gone on to university graphically described what I was missing (too graphic for a family-friendly web post). So I paid back the shilling, packed up my old kitbag and rolled up outside the University of Reading.
Despite three years as an armchair revolutionary, dabbling in animal rights and anarchism, and to the surprise of my tutors, I achieved a first-class degree in History and Sociology. I was also elected President of the Students' Union, which meant £60 a week and free entry to Friday night discos.
But all good things came to an end when by the end of the 1980's I needed to get a proper job or become a full-time hippy (Steve Hillage is still where it's at). After being spurned by the graduate recruiters for British Rail (their loss) I went on to work for Reading as an Accommodation Manager and Editor of the Students’ Union’s Alternative Prospectus.
In 1991 I successfully applied for the heady-sounding post of Administrative Assistant at the University of Warwick, supporting the Distance Learning MBA programme. I spent ten years learning my trade at Warwick, working in admissions, student records, student finance, planning and resource allocation. I was fortunate, finally, to be able to travel to exotic places such as Pakistan, Poland and Hungary. In addition to the day job, I served for eight years as Assistant Secretary to the Committee and University Chairs (CUC), for five years as the joint co-ordinator of the Warwick - Oxford Higher Education Management Programme (with Dawn Kemp) and spent four years of sleepless nights as Warden of the Jack Martin Halls of Residence. My final position was as Director of the Research and Development Services Office.
In 2001 the University of Birmingham saw the light and, despite less hair and fewer teeth than the last time I lived in the city, they appointed me as their Academic Registrar. The role covered a wide brief including marketing and recruitment, all aspects of the student experience, resource allocation, academic quality and corporate planning. In 2003, with a second increase in tuition fees on the horizon, the University awarded me a U21 Scholarship and sent me off on a month-long, fact-finding tour of Australia and New Zealand, to investigate how their universities had responded to a higher fees regime. (Not surprisingly they were investing heavily in student learning spaces, new learning technologies and administrative one-stop-shops.)
During my time at Birmingham I introduced a branded beer (Old Joe's), and uncovered a 1960s tin of pears hidden in sealed-off basement. I also led the University's rebranding project which is right up there as one of the worst jobs I've ever had, alongside working in a frozen fish warehouse, and a weekend of toilet fatigues at an army firing range in western Canada.
I was appointed to the position of Registrar and Secretary at the University of Leicester in September 2006.