Spent a lot of yesterday afternoon showing visitors round the IC, including one group from another University who are planning a similar development and who were interested in talking to us about the design and planning process and the operation of the building. The other group were from a local school who are planning a new building and who were more interested in the architecture and the internal design of spaces. A couple of weeks ago you couldn't move inside the building - several hundred people in overnight, and on some days up to 1500 in during the day - which given there are only 1300 seats is interesting! Now it is very quiet, and the staff there can get it ready for the next onslaught in September. I saw an interesting sight when I was wandering round the building - a young woman was sitting at a desk, working away at a PC, and at her feet under the desk, was a young man, stretched out on the floor fast asleep!
This morning I took part in a 4 hour workshop on the role of the Professional Services in supporting research. There were about 12 of us there, from a range of central services. We started with a PESTLE analysis of factors influencing the research agenda - some of the ones we came up with are (not all listed for commercially sensitive reasons!):
Political - a possible change of government, the Research Excellence Framework, funding streams shaping the research agenda
Economic - economic downturn, sustainability,
Social - staff retention, research informing public policy
Technical - increase in computing power, data storage and curation, physical infrastrutcre needs (ie buildings)
Legal - Intellectual Property and copyright, ethics, plagiarism
Environmental - public opinion, carbon footprint
Just a sample from a very wide ranging dicussion. Then we looked where the synergies between the different services were, and more importanly, could we identify gaps. From that, we drew up a prioritised action plan of things we needed to take forward. Finally, in view of the new Faculty structure in the University, we looked at those areas which distinguished the services provided centrally from those provided by departments/faculties - either because we could add value, provide economies of scale or ensure consistency across the institution.
All in all a valuable and useful morning - a good opportunity to take a critical look at what we do, and look for areas where we need to make improvements.