Monday, 14 April 2014

Diversity beats Ability

On Friday I took part in "The Big Message" discussion. Along with a number of other Heads of Department, we were talking about Diversity - why it matters, how it can add value to the educational mission of the University, what barriers there are to diversity, and what actions we need to take to overcome them. The conversations had been taking place all week with different groups of staff, facilitated by Simon and Roy from Astar-Fanshawe, and will result in a message about how diversity can help us work more effectively with each other and enhance our teaching and research. Our first question we had to work o was "how can diversity enhance our educational value", and the obvious answer from our group was "how can it not?".  Some great discussions around how diverse teams work better   - "diversity beats ability" - and how being at University is about learning new things, coming into contact with new ideas, new cultures etc, all of which are enhanced if we have a diverse population of staff and students.
Some of the most interesting discussions were around barriers. Recruitment was one which as already been identified, not picking the right person for the job, but recruiting for a team can be difficult.  The tendency for mini-me-ism - recruiting people in our own image, with our own personality and skill set. Lots of talk around diverse meaning a truly integrated polulation - a diverse group of students is not truly diverse if chinese students only talk to each other in chinese, and the UK students stick together for example. Lots of good action plans came out of it - an excellent session.

Today it was our Service Strategy Board where as well as catching up on project progress we talked about how work is requested, how it comes into the department, and how we allocate resources. Also, we had a presentation and approved a way forward to implement Agile Project Management which is going to lead some some big changes in how we run projects. We also approved a new project, to investigate how we store and retrieve digital media.

Tonight I went to the opening of one of our new buildings - The Pam Liversage Building  - great to see an engineering building named after a women engineer! It's a stunning seven storey building, and has been designed to join an existing building, with an atrium containing the external wall of the original building. It will be the home to our engineering graduate school, and there's more information about it here.

You can also explore the building using Google Streetview here.

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