Skip to main content

Vice-Chancellor's Update - April 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past few weeks have seen unprecedented change in how we work and live.

top of the Lanyon building with a blue and pink coloured sky

As a University community, I am proud of how we have responded to the challenges and would like to thank all our staff and students for their patience and co-operation during this extremely difficult time.  As I mentioned in my all-staff email last week, I am aware that working from home presents its own challenges as many of you now have additional responsibilities with caring for children or family and the more vulnerable members of our community.  I would encourage you to keep in touch with your line manager and let them know about the challenges you are experiencing so that we can best support you. Our colleagues in People and Culture, working with Information Services and Strategic Marketing and Communications, have produced a helpful document setting out Staff Health and Wellbeing Guidance in relation to COVID-19. Please take the time to read the guidance.

We have also had to be extremely flexible and agile as we deal with the many issues arising from the challenging circumstances. Within a short space of time, we have introduced a number of new systems and ways of working, including online teaching methods and arrangements for alternative assessments for our students.  All of these have involved a tremendous amount of teamwork and effort from staff across the University and I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.

Our researchers continue to play their part in global efforts to understand COVID-19. Ultan Power, Professor of Molecular Virology at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, has been awarded a grant of £295,626 in a bid to find a treatment while researchers in the Schools of Pharmacy and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are using technologies to help meet the need for PPE in the fight against the disease.  We have developed a website which will keep you up-to-date with the work of our researchers and provides research-led advice on topics related to coronavirus, ranging from wellbeing and education, to finances.

As a University, we are doing our best in the current crisis to plan for the future and are pro-actively engaging with the NI Executive on a range of issues.  We are also trying to continue with university business, as best we can. Our University Executive Board and Operating Board are still meeting regularly, albeit virtually, as well as other key committees, including Senate.  In recent weeks, we have also progressed a number of key appointments to our senior leadership team.  As you will be aware, Professor Adrienne Scullion and Professor Mark Price will be standing down from their positions as Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors over the coming months.  I would like to thank Mark and Adrienne for their committed leadership of their Faculties through a period of significant change, challenge, and achievement over these past few years.

I am pleased to advise that we have now appointed successors to both Mark and Adrienne.   Professor Nola Hewitt-Dundas, Head of  Queen’s Management School, will take up the role of Faculty PVC for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences with effect from 1 September 2020, to allow for a handover period with Adrienne, who will stand down as Faculty PVC on 20 September.  In the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Professor Chris Johnson has been appointed as the new Faculty PVC.  Chris will join us on 1 July 2020 from the University of Glasgow, where he is currently Head of the School of Computing.    As Mark will be standing down in a few weeks, Professor Ian Williams has been appointed to lead the Faculty in the interim period, and he will be supported by Shannon Caldwell as the interim Director of Operations. I am sure you will join me in wishing them well as they undertake these important leadership roles.

As we approach the Easter break, I would like to thank you all once again for your professionalism and dedication as we continue to deal with these difficult circumstances.