1.What is your current role at SPS?
Currently I am the Director of Student Engagement.
2. What does this role entail and mean to students?
My role is to work with the respective directors of undergraduate studies, their deputies and the Senior Tutor along with the employability team in order to develop and implement the school’s student engagement strategy.
3. Why has SPS created this role?
In order to implement the school a strategy for student engagement – building upon the successes we’ve had with forensic science and to contribute our successful ideas across the school.
4. What projects are you working on at the moment, and how will they make a difference to the student experience?
Currently I’ve been doing a number of audits asking students for their feedback as well as taking responses from individual course representatives. Similarly I’ve been looking at the National Student Survey data and our Guardian ranking to ensure that we continue to rise up the academic league tables. In particular, I want to make sure that students fully appreciate the association and context between student satisfaction/engagement, the National Student Survey, our continued rise in the rankings and how these support you in gaining successful employment.
I’m currently working also to identify work placement opportunities for a number of my academic advisees. I will be leading on our liaison with students societies. Based on our learning over the years and appreciating just how much an active and committed society do to help the student experience and sense of identity, I’m hopeful that we can have the best group of student’s societies in the University and wider beyond.
5. When will we start to see results of these projects?
I think we will begin to see these results, in various forms, rolling out in the year ahead. Naturally, you will be kept in the picture by various means. Early in January, we will begin communicating to some of you and reiterating the importance of the National Student Survey. Haven spoken with colleagues in the school, I will be coordinating and driving our NSS response and I hope that you will support us here. I will share the progress on projects through weekly newsletters and know that the colleagues are planning similar ways of communication.
6. How can students get involved with SPS and making their voice heard?
In a variety of ways – I think. Firstly, by engaging with their academic society. As I said already, these societies do so much to build our sense of community and help students across the school engage more widely with others. Also, by making contact with and establishing a sound, professional relationship with your Academic Advisor and other key members of staff across the school. Your student voice can be heard in a variety of ways; through your Student Reps.
Over my time at Kent, I’ve been amazed by the quality of our student reps and know that they do so much to help the growth and continued success of the school. The task of school rep is not an easy one so please give them your support. You can also get involved by feeding in to the various school meetings and committees and by posting comments in the Student Voice Feedback box in the Ingram Foyer. Additionally I would welcome your feedback regularly throughout the year. For example, those who come to my lectures will hear me begin by asking “… how has the week been”? Similarly I always finish my modules by asking for constructive feedback. When it’s done correctly and in a positive spirit, feedback is often an incredibly valuable benchmark. However, when feedback is delivered improperly or in an impolite way it can be incredibly harmful and destructive.
7. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Never quite thought about this really but guess I’m (a) moderately hard-working. I try to be (2) helpful and (3) respectful of others and hope that this is reciprocated.
8. What inspires you in your work?
A little easier to answer and, in a nutshell, all those young people who come to study with us. Seeing them succeed not only academically but also moving on to worthwhile careers. Getting immense satisfaction from (perhaps) having just helped them a little along the way. It’s also incredibly gratifying to keep in touch with our students and to see them go from one success to another.
9. Why did you choose to teach at the University of Kent?
I began my association with the University of Kent around 1999 whilst working for the UK Forensic Science Service. Subsequently, I moved to the Home Office around 2002 and throughout this time helped others to shape the forensic science degree and also teach part-time on the programme for around 20 years. When I left the Civil Service in 2010 it seemed a natural choice to work at the University – full-time. I thoroughly enjoy being with you and have a great sense of pride in the University but most of all in you!
10. What has been a personal highlight for you in teaching?
I don’t really have any personal highlights but just get satisfaction from seeing you all do your best, both in terms of academic achievement, enjoyment and getting the job of your dreams. It’s been very reassuring to see Kent continue to rise in the national rankings, seeing the improvements we make year-on-year, I’m constantly striving to do even better.
11. What is your proudest achievements outside of your work?
I’m not a very self-satisfied individual but do take a lot of satisfaction from my family. I suppose outside of work though it would be being awarded the OBE for services to forensic science in the Queens 2008 birthday honours list. Although one is never really told what the award is for (in finer detail) I was immensely proud of the changes and improvements we made to cold case DNA investigations. Meeting victims of these appalling crimes who have long since given up hope of seeing that offenders brought to justice has been immensely satisfying. I’m also rather proud of being made a fellow of the Chartered Society of Forensic sciences in 2014. Most of all though – I’m proud of being a dad!
12. What has been your greatest challenge?
Trying to affect change.
13. If you could pick anyone throughout history, to discuss their research in physical sciences, who would it be and why?
I think it would be Rosalind Franklin, one of the early DNA pioneers. I always feel rather sad that she didn’t get the recognition she deserved during her relatively short life.
Any other comments or quotes that you wish to add?
If I can do any good at all, it would be to try to get the ideas of engagement, enjoyment and employability embedded in the minds of our students. Firstly, making sure that studies are as enjoyable as possible because, without this, one may be less likely to engage. Naturally, if one doesn’t engage then we seem to dramatically reduce our chances of employment success. We need to have our eye on getting you into work from the very beginning of your studies until you ‘ace’ that dream job. I’m looking forward to working with you all in this new role; rest assured that I will do my best to help whenever I can.