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Vice-Chancellor's Update - November 2019

At the end of October, the University hosted a major event in New York which showcased the work and talent of the Seamus Heaney Centre.

Over 100 of our alumni, friends and supporters attended the showcase which marked the beginning of a week long programme of events to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Seamus Heaney Centre. It was a tremendous evening, not just for the Centre, but for our University and I have received so many positive comments from those who attended. Events like this are really important in terms of our engagement with alumni and key partners and in raising the international profile of Queen’s. My sincere thanks to all those involved in organising the showcase – the Seamus Heaney Centre, Development and Alumni Relations, and the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. A special word of thanks to Glenn Patterson and his Seamus Heaney Centre colleagues for their poetry readings and to our Honorary Graduate, Colin Davidson, who spoke so insightfully about Seamus Heaney. You can read more about the event, including the announcement of the new Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows, on the University’s news pages.

Alumni engagement is really important for us and last week I had the opportunity to meet with some of our London-based alumni at the annual dinner of the Queen’s University Association, London (QUAL). The Association provides an important point of contact for our alumni who live or work in England.

Last month, we also held the first in a series of regional events to engage with prospective students, parents and key stakeholders. Over 300 people attended the ‘Experience Queen’s’ Event in Derry/Londonderry which gave students and their parents the opportunity to find out more about life at Queen’s. The event included interactive displays from Schools across the Faculties as well as Domestic Student Recruitment and Admissions information stands.  The event also gave us the opportunity to engage with Careers Teachers, local employers and some of our key partners in the North West, including Ulster University.

Over the past year, we have been working with Ulster University on a range of projects and recently launched our latest collaboration.  At the end of September, Queen’s hosted the first event for Pivotal – Northern Ireland’s new public policy think tank, which included the launch of Professor Tony Gallagher’s research on ‘Education, Equality and the Economy’.  Queen’s and Ulster University are academic partners of Pivotal which has been created to provide Northern Ireland with an independent policy forum dedicated to developing long–term evidence-based thinking. It is an important new initiative which will help shape and inform policy here and we wish Pivotal’s Director, Ann Watt, every success.  

Another collaboration which is progressing is the Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland (HIRANI) which was launched earlier this year. HIRANI, which brings together stakeholders across the life and health science sectors, has just announced the appointment of its Non-Executive Chairman, Dr Hakim Yadi.

You will all be aware that over the last few months, work has been ongoing in the development of an Institutional Action Plan in response to our Staff Survey. Four new areas for action have now been identified which you can find out more about on the Staff Survey webpages. I would like to thank all those who provided feedback through the Staff Survey and Staff Forum and to those involved in the Staff Survey Steering Group. Your engagement is crucial in helping ensure we can co-create a positive experience at work for all staff at Queen’s.

The recent news that the University has retained its Institutional Athena SWAN silver award is an indication of the type of positive work environment that we want at Queen’s. Retaining our institutional award exemplifies our commitment to supporting the personal and professional development of staff and students at Queen’s. Congratulations also to the School of Pharmacy who has had its Athena SWAN departmental silver award renewed. There is a significant amount of work and effort involved in making SWAN submissions and I would like to thank all those involved. It is a tremendous achievement.