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Professor Nola Hewitt-Dundas takes up post as AHSS Faculty PVC

A video message from the new PVC of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Nola Hewitt-Dundas

Nola Hewitt-Dundas took up post as Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences on Tuesday 1 September 2020. 

In a video message to colleagues in the Faculty, Nola reflects on the response of all within the Faculty to the challenges and transitions experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past months and sets out her immediate priorities as she takes up post and her ambitions for the future of the Faculty. 


My name is Nola Hewitt-Dundas and I am the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  I am delighted to be moving into this role.  I regard it as a real privilege to be working with a Faculty where there is such esteemed academics and such an excellent cohort of students that are coming to Queen’s every year.  So it is a real privilege and I'm really looking forward to the years ahead in leading the Faculty. 

Over the last few months I have been incredibly impressed and inspired by the way in which staff and students have adapted to the challenges around COVID.  It’s a very uncertain and a difficult environment and yet people have demonstrated such professionalism and agility to move into this new space.   And perhaps more important, the sense of community where people have sought to support each other.  It is very impressive but at the same time it’s challenging and I would hope very much that staff would take particular care of their own health and their wellbeing at this time and not be afraid to reach out to others particularly line managers where they are feeling under pressure. 

My immediate priorities in moving into the role are very much focused on the operational.  We're about to start a new academic year and we want to make sure that’s as smooth a transition for our staff and our students as is possible.  So making sure that we are on top of our student numbers; we know exactly where those students are going to be and how that student and campus experience is going to work out for them.  Also for staff: how will it look for staff?  How can we support staff in delivering teaching in a very different way to what it would have been 12 months ago?  So my immediate priorities are very much around supporting students, supporting staff and looking at budgets and making sure that the resources are there to ensure that we deliver a quality experience in equipping and enabling our academics to deliver, and also equipping and ensuring our students engage and have a very positive learning experience.

Looking a little further ahead, my ambition for the Faculty as I see it currently is around three things.

The first one is knowledge creation.  We are a University; we are interested and as academics, we are driven by creating new knowledge.   So I want to make sure that we are supported and that we are supporting our academics to do that and the knowledge that we create is of a high quality.

The second point is then about beyond the creation of that knowledge is about the sharing of that knowledge; sharing that knowledge with students.  How do we do that? How to we inspire students to learn; not just to absorb knowledge?  How do we disseminate our knowledge to our peers in the wider academic community and externally?

And the third element of that is very much about building relationships.  Building relationships within the Faculty but also across the wider University in leveraging our knowledge with that of other disciplinary areas.   Reaching out to our wider community whether that's in Northern Ireland, or internationally, perhaps our alumni community but equally about our stakeholders that are interested and engaged in our research because it's through that engagement that ultimately we will have a greater impact in the co-design of our research and then in the translation of those findings into the workplace whether that’s in politics, business or wider society.

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