Author Archives: Philip Pothen

Staff Conference 2022 – Building our University Community

Last year’s inaugural staff conference was necessarily a virtual event. This year, with Covid restrictions behind us, we can for the first time ensure that connectivity, collaboration and community-building of the face-to-face kind lie at the heart of our annual staff conference.

Everyone gets involved

The programme, launched today, shows us I think a number of things: with more than 50 sessions led and presented by around 70 members of staff, it shows us the extraordinary richness of the ideas, interests and insights that colleagues are keen to share with others. It highlights the tremendous opportunities we all have to learn from one another and it underlines the ambition that underpins so many of the activities being undertaken here at our University.

Such was the number and quality of the proposals received that the organising committee decided to extend the period of the conference and start it at the beginning of the week commencing 12 September with a number of wellbeing-related activities, tours of facilities within Divisions, bookable health tests and much more taking place through the whole week both at Canterbury and at Medway.

What we have in store

On the morning of September 15 the formal programme kicks off with a ‘state of the nation’, priority-setting welcome and introduction by the Vice-Chancellor, with a chance to ask questions. This will also highlight projects coming this year that demonstrate our collective pursuit of progress and our determination to make our mark in the world – linked to our new and exciting brand identity, which has ambition at its core.

Later that morning, we have an in-conversation session, open to all, between Kent and Kherson State University, our Ukrainian ‘twin’ institution, currently under Russian occupation. What is university life like for staff and students at Kherson under such difficult and challenging circumstances? How are students and staff coping? How can our twinning initiative help them? Come along and find out.

Through the day and a half of the conference, one strand of activities (Strand A) will be available on Teams as well as face to face, highlighting the University’s three strategic pillars, introducing some key initiatives, and launching the new People and Culture Strategy.

Features of the conference

Another feature of the first day is an ‘EDI Pathway’, a day-long, face-to-face strand of presentations and workshops addressing, among other things, the experience of our trans students, the role of our staff disability network, accessibility and adult education.

Health and wellbeing are at the heart of the programme too with a wide range of activities that will be as good for your mind and soul as they are for your body, including pilates, tai chi, zumba, a tour of the trees of the southern slopes, and the very first appearance on campus of Jack the therapy cat! Financial advice will also be available, as will help in navigating the support accessible by all through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

Employability, schools and colleges outreach, data protection, communications support, and showcases of the work of our Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi) and Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS) will also feature prominently. And look out for Vicky Annis from Kent Sport, giving us her first-hand account of volunteering at the recent Commonwealth Games.

Network opportunities

Opportunities to socialise and network will be key to the event – with lunch and a drinks reception open to all on the 15th – as we look to bring colleagues together, celebrate our achievements and look forward to those to come. There will also be giveaway items for staff that showcase our new look and feel, linked to the brand launch at the beginning of the day.

Last – and certainly not least – the staff barbecue, a highlight of the staff calendar, will take place at lunchtime on the 16th to round off the week off in suitably celebratory fashion.

Launch events, social and networking occasions, leisure and fitness activities, tours, workshops, presentations, debates and discussion… I hesitate to say that ‘there’s something for everyone’ – but there really is!

Do take a look at the programme, come to as much as you can and we look forward to seeing you there.

Philip Pothen | Director of Engagement