Category Archives: People

Kent People: Meet our very own Jacquie of All Trades 

Jacquie Edwards is PA to the Director of Sport, but better known to many as performer Ginger Bennett. During Black History Month, she tells us how stories of being and growing up in the UK during lockdown helped create this alter ego. 

‘I joined the University in 2001 as a temp in the Estates Department. Jill Andrew’s Friday afternoon tray bakes were amazing and I think I knew from the first bite I would be working here until they shoehorned me out!

‘I’ve always had an affliction or a gift, whichever way you look at it. If I say I’m going to do something out loud, I will generally do it. Sometimes I will fail spectacularly but I will always see it through.  

‘In the past, this has led to some marvellous opportunities: I was a canoeing Instructor (who couldn’t swim that well); a karaoke hostess (with chronic nerves); PA to the Head of Exhibitions and Displays at the National Maritime Museum (with no keyboard skills whatsoever); and managed to hoist the Women’s Rugby World Cup (even though I really don’t like mud and dirt). 

‘I think a lot of working mothers know how that adventurous, pioneering spirit can so easily be diluted once you have children. It happened to me and, three children later, I was more prone to muttering under my breath than boldly proclaiming my next bonkers venture.  

Becoming, Being and Belonging 

‘Enter global pandemic and the lockdown. I’d always thought I came from a very close family but those Zoom calls take to you to another level! Those talking heads revealed family stories I’d never heard – stories about my parents’ arrival to the UK and their feelings of being and belonging. When I shared these stories with friends, I found the stories of their parents’ arrivals meshed with their own feelings and stories. Unconsciously, I had started to build an account of Becoming, Being and Belonging for 1st Generation Immigrants to the UK and their 2nd Generation children.  

‘Somewhere around month six or seven, I became very low – Long Covid, lockdown, three children, home-schooling and menopause all played a part. I have a lovely friend who saw through my thin smiling veneer – we talked, sometimes daily, and I read her the stories and poems I had written around the theme. She told me they were funny and important and, before long, I said out loud “I think I can write a play about this” so I did. It may have helped that friend is an award-winning jazz pianist but, regardless, I’ve done it.  It’s out there. 

The England Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning team, 1994. Jacquie is in the front row with her arm around the flag.

Songs from My Soul 

Songs from My Soul is an amalgamation of tales told to me by friends and family about being and growing up in the UK. I think it cuts across race too as I hope it tells the age-old story of mothers fighting for their children the best they know how and then letting them go.  

‘The stories are distilled into the life of Aretha a mother who, now retired, sees the path travelled very differently from her daughter, Bernadette.  

‘Those Zoom calls were a real awakening and I now have a few more job titles to add to my dodgy CV: Playwright, Producer, Actress.’ 

Listen and find out more 

Jacquie performs regularly across Kent as Ginger Bennett with her funk and Soul Band Project F and the KD Dance Orchestra 

Songs from My Soul will be performed at the Tower Theatre, Folkestone, on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October from 20.00. Tickets, priced £12, are available on the Tower Theatre webpages 

Songs from My Soul is a year-long Arts Council funded project and will examine, Becoming, Belonging and Being as part of a performance of new works next year. The Songs from My Soul team would love to hear your stories and write your song. Get in touch via this Songs from my Soul link 

You can also listen to original songs for the Songs from my Soul project on YouTube. 

Jim Everett

Dr Jim Everett announced as 2021 Levehulme Prize winner

Congratulations to Dr Jim Everett, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, who is among the winners of this year’s 2021 Philip Leverhulme Prizes.

The annual prizes recognise the achievement of ‘exceptional researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future careers are exceptionally promising’. 30 prizes are awarded annually, each worth £100,000 to be spent on further research.

Jim has been awarded the prestigious prize for his work ‘on experimental social psychology; moral psychology; experimental philosophy.’ His recognition by the Leverhulme Trust is an honour given to only a handful of the UK’s psychologists in each three-year cycle, and follows several other awards from the international research community, including a Rising Star award by the International Association for Psychological Science, the Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Early Career award from the European Association for Social Psychology.

Jim said: ‘To see my name amongst such impressive awardees in psychology from this year and previous years is a very strange feeling. As always, thank you so much everyone who has supported me. I say this every time I get an award, but nothing I have done, or will ever do, will be mine alone and I remain deeply indebted to my family, mentors and colleagues.’

Head of School, Professor Robbie Sutton said: ‘We have always had an outstanding international reputation for research in social psychology, which in recent years has only grown stronger with the recruitment of  supremely talented and energetic researchers who are publishing in the world’s leading journals, winning millions of pounds in research funding, and training the next generation of researchers with the skills and enthusiasm to address the UK’s, and the world’s, most urgent challenges.’

Read more about the awards on the Leverhulme Trust website.

New training module developed for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office 

A new online training module for civil servants around the world has been developed by international law expert Dr Luis Eslava for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The module on ‘Green Cities and Infrastructure’ explores contemporary debates about sustainable development in low income and G20 countries.

Dr Eslava said: ‘The topics covered in the module highlight the role of urban and local development in conversations about the future of the global environment. The module shows how effective and progressive actions at the local level should recognise the impact of past development policies on current urban arraignments, and how meaningful local engagement with communities, in both “developed” and “developing” countries, are an essential step towards global environmental justice.’

The module was commissioned by the FCDO for their Trade Policy and Negotiations Faculty (TPNF) as part of their extensive program for government officials specialising in trade policy across Whitehall and globally.

Dr Eslava said: ‘It was a great privilege, both professionally and academically, to be able to contribute to the training of current and future FCDO officials posted across the world and who are directly dealing with crucial questions about domestic and international development and global trade policies.’

Dr Eslava was supported in the development of the ‘Green Cities and Infrastructure’ module by Kent Law School alumnus George Hill. George graduated from Kent with a First Class Honours degree in European Legal Studies in 2019 and is currently completing an LLM by Research at the European Institute in Florence. George co-authored a chapter on ‘Cities, Post-Coloniality and International Law’ with Dr Eslava for the Research Handbook on International Law and Cities (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021).

Dr Eslava is a Reader in International Law at Kent Law School with teaching responsibilities that span across Law and International Development, Public International Law and International Human Rights Law.

He is an active member of The IEL Collective, the network Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and is currently writing a book on the changing nature of global poverty, Broken Worlds: New Poverty, Law and Youth Violence. He is also co-editing The Oxford Handbook of International Law and Development (OUP, forthcoming 2022).

Congratulations to our newly promoted academic colleagues

Sixty-seven academic colleagues are celebrating their promotion to professor, reader, senior lecturer or senior research fellow in the 2020-21 academic year.

The new professors are:

Division of Arts and Humanities

Shona Illingworth (Arts)

Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Mark Batty (Computing)

Division of Human and Social Sciences

Robert Fish (Anthropology and Conservation)

Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice

Heejung Chung and Carolyn Pedwell (Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research)

 

Professor Heejung Chung

Division of Natural Sciences

Glen Davison (Sport and Exercise Sciences), Simon Holder (Chemistry & Forensic Science), Neil Kad and Mark Wass (Biosciences)

Professor Glen Davison

Martin Atkinson, Director of HR and Organisational Development, said: ‘The career development, personal growth and excellence of our academic staff are vital to the continuing success of the University. Congratulations to all those promoted this year in the most challenging circumstances. And, at a time when the contribution of the nation’s essential workers has been recognised and celebrated, I am sure that those colleagues would fully acknowledge that their achievements would not have been possible without the support of other academic colleagues and the professional services staff working behind the scenes.’

You can see the full list of Academic promotions 2020-21 here.

[Main picture shows newly promoted Professor Neil Kad from the School of Biosciences]

Coronavirus

Condolences for Professor Geoffrey Stephenson

It is with great sadness that we inform colleagues of the death of Geoffrey Stephenson (1939-2021).

Geoffrey established the Social Psychology Research Unit and the Board of Studies in Social Psychology at the University of Kent in 1978, and created its pathway to become the Institute of Social and Applied Psychology and ultimately both the School of Psychology and Tizard Centre.

Geoffrey was one of the UK’s foremost social psychologists in the 1970s and 80s and a leading figure in the formation and growth of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology, being elected its President from 1984-7. Following his retirement from Kent in 1998, he continued to be very active in research and teaching for a further decade.

A full obituary will be prepared in due course. Those wishing to convey messages of condolence and remembrance to his wife Astrid and children Lawrence, Kate and David are welcome to contact Professor Dominic Abrams: D.Abrams@kent.ac.uk

In memory of Geoffrey, his family invite donations to be made in aid of Age UK Faversham and Sittingbourne via  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidStephenson28/1

Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura | Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance

Ivan Wills holding fish

Condolences for Ivan Wills

We were saddened to hear that Ivan Wills passed away after a long battle with illness.

Ivan worked for over 13 years as a Security Officer for the University and was a member of the Congregation Team for the majority of that time, a role which he particularly enjoyed. He pointed out on many occasions that watching the students graduate was what it was all about.

Ivan was a keen fisherman, a very proud grandfather and just a real character, who will be missed by all who knew him.

Campus Security Team

Kent People: Jacqui Double, Head of Colleges and Community Life

When did you join the University and why?

I joined Kent in 2012 as a Student Support Officer in the School of Arts. Before that, I was a schoolteacher and worked for ten years in patient advocacy and support for children and young people with long-term medical conditions. I liked the idea of supporting young adults and gaining more experience in HE so when a friend mentioned the SSO post I was keen to apply. I did some lecturing in Arts alongside the Student Support role, but support services were where my interests lay. Becoming Head of College and Community Life last year has given me the chance to have a wider reach and influence over student experience, support and welfare; it’s a perfect fit.

What does being Head of Colleges and Community Life involve?

The University has eight colleges to which all students are affiliated when they come to study here. The College and Community Life team builds college, community and belonging for students on and off-campus. We’re a small team with big expectations, made up of three College Life Officers, who host events, offer support and advice to our student college community, and one Community Life Officer, who supports transition into becoming local student residents in the Canterbury and Medway area.

As the Head of College and Community Life, I’m lucky enough to liaise with the wider student undergraduate and postgraduate communities, to share in their experiences and promote their voices, and to work with Student Union officers and central teams like House Keeping and Campus Security, to ensure the best experience for our students. I also engage with local community stakeholders, such as Residents’ Associations, Kent Police and Canterbury & Medway City Council officers, to promote student safety and integration. It’s a fascinating and rewarding role, and I am really enjoying it.

What effect has the pandemic had on your work and how have you responded?

The pandemic has been a challenge without a doubt but it has also been rewarding to see students and colleagues work so hard and creatively to support each other. The CCL team have been at the forefront of offering practical support to self-isolating students, including friendly texts and calls to mobiles to check how households are managing, sending out jigsaws and baking boxes to do together, and delivering gift-bags funded by alumni supporters to households living on campus. We have hosted events for all our students -, from remote coffee mornings and arts and crafts sessions on Zoom to a face-to-face Escape Room in our office and even outdoor mini-golf – allowing them to come together safely in line with Covid guidelines. With that experience, we are now planning wonderful welcome and social events across the coming year, which will support our new and returning students. If there are challenges remaining, we will be here offering support.

Students playing mini-golf

Looking ahead, what are you and your team planning over the next year?

We are very excited about next year. We will set-up our mini-golf course for Welcome Week, challenging students to complete every hole with bespoke obstacles and some great prizes to be won! Alongside this, we are aware that new and returning students may need more advice and support than ever to get that feeling of belonging and to make social connections. As well as our college BBQs and a welcome talk from me, we will have postgraduate volunteers, called Residential Life Assistants (RLAs), in all our colleges, supporting students to form a College Committee who can suggest events hosted by students for students. All are welcome to get involved by planning, hosting or simply joining in with the fun. Our Community Life Officer will be reaching out to students living in private term-time accommodation too, to give advice on how to stay safe, get on with your neighbours and get support from us.

One specialism in our team is mediation when housemates find it hard to settle into shared living together or need support making connections with others. There will be plenty of information on our College and Community Life webpages and social media, which I would highly recommend students look at and follow. Personally, I am very excited to see students face-to-face on our beautiful campuses and to watch them grow and thrive. That is what we are all here for, after all.

Students planting seeds in the Community Oasis Garden

Outside work, how do you like to spend your time?

I am very boring, I’m afraid. During lockdown, I have discovered the joys of growing my own food on an allotment. I benefit immensely from being out of doors, and growing delicious food is a real bonus. Hopefully, many of our students will benefit in a similar way by volunteering at our Kent Community Oasis Garden. To switch off completely, I turn to fantasy novels (Urban or Pratchett are my favourites) and, once everything is open again, I will be having a cocktail and watching a film in a little cinema somewhere by the sea. Bliss.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best piece of advice I ever received and still use every day is “Go to the right people for the right support.” That is so true and it has helped me through some very difficult times. I pass it on, and don’t mind talking about when and what the context was for getting this advice.

Coronavirus

Condolences for Philip North

The University was very sorry to learn that Philip North died on 4 June, 2021, aged 72.

Dr North obtained his PhD from the University of Kent in 1979, on the topic of Statistical methods in ornithology. He was an active member of an Ecology Research Group, which predated DICE.

In addition through his research, links were established with the British Trust for Ornithology and the Centre d’Ecologie Fontionnelle & Evolutive, CNRS Montpellier, which are continued by the current members of the Statistical Ecology at Kent research group in SMSAS.

He became Director of the Applied Statistical Research Unit at Kent (subsequently ASRU Ltd), which for many years undertook consultancy with a range of pharmaceutical companies.

Words by Byron Morgan, SMSAS

Keith Somerville

Royal Historical Society Fellowship for Professor Keith Somerville

Congratulations to Professor Keith Somerville on being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (RHS).

Keith’s current roles at Kent include teaching Propaganda, and Communication and Humanitarianism modules at the Centre for Journalism, and being an active member of the Durrell Institute (DICE); for example, giving lectures on the ivory trade to Master’s students.

The RHS Fellowship recognises Keith’s contribution to historical research, including his history of research and publication (five books and several journal papers) on modern African history. This has culminated in Africa’s Lond Road Since Independence, The Manu Histories of a Continent, and his last three books on the history and current nature of human-wildlife conflict in Africa, dealing with the ivory trade, human-lion conflict and demonisation of the hyena by humans.

Commenting on his Fellowship, Keith said: ‘The RHS is an excellent forum for exchanging ideas and finding out about new research… Being a Fellow will be invaluable as a networking and research tool and is a very welcome recognition of my contribution to historical study.’

Keith is also a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London; a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group; and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. His book on Ivory won the Marjan-Marsh Conservation Award in 2016.

A full list of the recently conferred RHS Fellowships can be seen on the Society’s webpages.

Templeman Front Line Services teams

Kent People: Templeman Front Line Services teams

By Christine Davies, Learning Environment Assistant

Can you tell us more about your role?

Together, our teams – Facilities Management, Learning Environment, Service Delivery and Support & Liaison – look after the physical spaces, resources and service points in the Templeman Library. We help users make the most of our physical collections/study spaces and provide in-person/online help with library and IT queries. We could be the person on the phone helping you with a password reset, issuing your carrel key from the Welcome Desk, trundling past with a trolley of textbooks, or handing over a computer to support working from home.

Students are at the heart of what we do, but we also have plenty to offer staff, as well as our local community. A real privilege of working in the Library is our dual capacity for education and leisure. Of the 12 items I currently have on loan (you can borrow up to 40), one is a cookbook, a CD, two are DVDs and the rest a mix of fiction (titles like Golden Hill and The eye of the reindeer) and non-fiction (topics as diverse as running, medieval science and beauty).

How has the pandemic affected your work?

In March 2020, the pandemic prompted a University-wide lockdown and the Templeman closed its doors too. Most of our teams were suddenly tasked with working from home although a handful of essential staff remained to manage building maintenance (Covid-proofing) and book returns (or avalanches, in those early days!).

The experiences of front-line colleagues – including Jon Peacock (Support Supervisor), Nick Goodman (Support Officer), Sally Vinicombe (Welcome Desk Supervisor), Joe Lucas (Learning Environment Team Leader) and Luke Ranger (Facilities Manager) – highlight three distinct phases in the Templeman’s pandemic timeline:

1)    Panic stations (March-July 2020)

Jon: The IT & Library Support Desk had to move entirely online and quickly familarise ourselves with MS Teams and other remote working tools so we could advise others. The first lockdown was particularly busy in fielding calls, emails and online chats from students and staff grappling with remote-working and technology, all in the lead-up to exams!

2)    Covid-proofing (July-December 2020)

Luke: As we planned how to re-open in line with Government guidance, we re-calculated our building capacity and implemented measures to promote safe movement and behaviour. This involved moving/removing furniture to create individual socially distanced study spaces, distributing signage to support a one-way system, and locking/cordoning off areas of risk (like unventilated group study rooms).

Joe: We adapted team operations, introducing work bubbles to limit the spread of Covid. We focused on fulfilling book fetch requests to ensure access to physical resources while limiting visitor footprint. We made retrievals twice daily, processing and storing requested items at a reservation pick-up in the Welcome Hall. We also introduced a 72-hour stock quarantine to delay items moving between users.

Sally: The Welcome Desk stripped everything back to essentials only, suspending our visitor services to prioritise student access to the Library, and switching our approach to advisory rather than hands-on. We handled a wider variety of queries, stretching our own knowledge base and encouraging students to be more self-sufficient.

Nick: We’ve added Perspex screens to the Support Desk and re-spaced the desks to reinforce social distancing for the safety of staff and customers. It’s also been exciting to explore new ways of improving our remote support through MS Teams.

3)    The new normal (January-June 2021)

Joe: From September 2020, we noticed that quarantine had an impact on users, particularly in accessing high-demand items. So we increased our digital offering, reintroduced self-service shelf access and made adjustments to secure everyone’s safety and wellbeing. In response, students were complying with what was once considered unnatural: sitting a desk apart from their friend, studying with a mask and following a one-way system around the building.

How can colleagues make the most of library services?

As lockdown eases, we hope to gradually reintroduce our full range of services over the summer, as well as prepare for an effective Welcome Week. Our bookable study spaces are already available and we hope to reopen our popular Chill-Out Room by September.

If you’re visiting the Library, check out key updates on our website and a whiteboard in the Welcome Hall. We recommend using our online tools to check opening hours, building occupancy, and our catalogue. Library Search remains an invaluable resource, and our Library Collections colleagues have been busy adding more e-resources throughout the pandemic, so do use the filters to check if your book or journal is available online.

Other useful digital tools include our Software finder and E-resources A-Z. Why not check out BOB (Box of Broadcasts), a handy way to catch up on recent TV & radio, our recently-added collection from the National Theatre or Summer Reads chosen by colleagues from across the Library?

You can stay up to date by following our blog and social media channels. Our Support Desk is open through the summer (09:00-18:00 weekdays, 12:00-18:00 Saturdays), and you can reach us remotely during these hours by phone (01227 82 4999), email (libraryhelp@kent.ac.uk) or via the “Chat to us” that appears on most library webpages.

[Main image shows: Front Line Services staff (from left to right) including Christine Davies, Joe Lucas, Jon Peacock, Sally Vinicombe and Kaidi Goke]