Category Archives: People

Paul Allain

Kent People: Paul Allain, Dean of the Graduate and Researcher College

When did you join the University and why?

A Senior Lectureship in Drama came up at Kent in 2000, which was rare those days. With my eldest son about to start primary school in London, a move to Canterbury with its excellent schools and a bit more space felt like a positive step. The drama department was then, and still is, among the biggest and best in the UK. I joined Kent in September and was fortunate enough to begin with a term’s externally funded sabbatical – a soft landing.

What did you do before joining Kent?

I started a PhD in contemporary Polish theatre in autumn 1989, an interesting time to be researching there. I performed with a Polish theatre group about whom I was also writing, which led to work as a Movement Director in companies such as the RSC and the Royal National Theatre. I collaborated with some very famous actors, though to list them would be namedropping!  I gained my first permanent 0.5 position in 1993 and continued to mix academic and theatre work for a few years until I decided to give my all to research and teaching.

Why has the new College been created and what’s its remit?

I have now been Dean for four years. From the beginning, I saw benefits in joining up our excellent support for postgraduates with that for research staff, especially postdocs who were ‘falling between the gaps’. I commissioned a report which confirmed this problem and gave us clear guidance on what was needed to support all staff who research across the whole academic lifecycle. 

Tell us more about who’s who within your College team?

Within the Graduate and Researcher College, we’re a very small team and there’s been a lot of change over the last year, from people departing through KVSS to maternity leaves. But it’s all good, and we’re finding ways to adapt as a team so we can deliver on our expanded remit. Core team members are sustaining and enhancing our PG activity and support, in particular with the Global Skills Award for Master’s students and our Researcher Development Programme, while a new post will work closely with myself and colleagues on rolling out our programme for academic researchers.

What are your immediate plans for the newly formed College?

The imminent task is to sustain what the team has been doing so well for our postgraduates, while incorporating new workshops, activities and networks for academic staff, ultimately all geared towards improving our research performance. We signed up to the Concordat to support researcher career development in June 2020, so can’t shirk this. We are also active in several UKRI-funded postgraduate consortia which has been very preoccupying during Covid, ensuring we help our research students fairly with the limited resources we have. Inevitably, this is rumbling on… 

Why do you think postgraduate education has a pivotal part in Kent’s future success?

Delivering quality postgraduate taught courses and offering excellent research supervision has to be a priority for any institution that is serious about conducting research. As a REF panel member (in 2014 and imminently for REF 2021 in subpanel 33), I see clearly how vital postgraduates are to academic life.

Covid-19 permitting(!), what are your interests away from work?

Not surprisingly, I enjoy live events such as concerts and theatre, overseas if possible, and often in Poland. Is that not work though? In case it is, I also play tennis. I’m a bit of a fidget, so that burns some energy.

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

Engaging your legs can greatly enhance your serve!


New Strategic Lead for Medway

Dr William Collier has been appointed to the role of Strategic Lead – MedwayWilliam, who is currently Deputy Dean (Education and Student Experience), will take up his new role in January 2021 for a 12-month period.

The University has been offering higher education in Medway for more than 20 years, and over time we have adapted our offer. However, there is more we should be doing to make the most of our presence in Medway, and the development of a new and comprehensive vision for the campus is a key strategic aim for the University.

As this year has shown, the new strategy for Medway needs to ensure we are better positioned to support the rebuilding of the region’s economy post-Covid, that we continue to support the bid of City of Culture through our Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, and that we maintain and develop strong partnerships with local education providers, the Council and other external stakeholders

In his new role, William will be responsible for taking this work forward, consulting with both external and internal stakeholders. He brings a wide range of institutional experience to the role, with expertise in student recruitment, portfolio development, education and student experience. He is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE and an Associate of The Economics Network.


Condolences for Anne Seller

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Anne Seller, one of the first members of our academic staff, on Wednesday 11 November.

Anne Seller was appointed to a Lectureship in Philosophy in 1966, and helped to shape the profile of philosophy at Kent. Her speciality was political philosophy.

She was a member of Keynes and played an active part in the life of the college. She also played a central role in setting up the Women’s Studies graduate course at Kent.

Outside the University, Anne Seller also made an enormous contribution. Locally, she taught philosophy for children, working at the Orchard School, and served as Lady Mayoress of Canterbury in 2001-2.

On the national stage, she played a lead role in the Society for Women in Philosophy and took an active part in campaigning against siting Cruise missiles in the UK.

She spent a year teaching at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, where she continued to be a frequent visitor, and held a visiting appointment at Mother Teresa Women’s University in south India

A fuller tribute to Anne Seller, by Professor Richard Norman, Professor Sean Sayers and former student Professor Miranda Fricker FBA, is available on the Department of Philosophy webpages.

PRIDE Award winners - September 2020

Congratulations to Kent Hospitality’s latest PRIDE Award winners

It was a bumper round of PRIDE Award winners last month with three staff members winning the award.

Congratulations are due to Angela Forsyth (Accommodation Co-ordinator), Keira Hannigan (Chargehand) and Jason Townsend (IT Systems, Development and Support Officer). PRIDE stands for ‘Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence’ and the panel felt that the hard work and dedication of all three exemplified this and could not be ignored, especially where multiple nominations were received for different projects each was working on.

While recognising how hard the entire Accommodation Team have worked throughout the Clearing and Arrivals period, Angela’s nomination singled her out for her ‘tireless’ work and “unflagging efforts” on the Clearing hotline call centre, both in training the team and responding to student calls. Additionally, Angela contributed and helped to implement a new procedure for processing student data in the Accommodation Office that “increases efficiency, is time saving and improves customer service”

Keira’s award recognised her “dedication, consistency, proactiveness, and her willingness to support and assist the Housekeeping Team in their work”. Her nomination focused on a recent three-month period where Keira stepped up to help run and manage one of the college Housekeeping Teams above and beyond her role. Keira has also taken on extra tasks and hours throughout the Covid-19 pandemic so far and has also helped to support new staff starters and has consistently shown why she is a “valued member of the Chargehand team”.

The final winner was a familiar face; however, the panel felt that Jason’s outstanding work producing 14 fully operational tracking devices from scratch for Kent Hospitality’s catering outlets deserved recognition. Jason designed a bespoke computer prototype, tested it, sourced parts and manufactured the final trackers often giving up his own time to ensure the trackers were ready as soon as possible. An extract from his nomination read that his “innovation, devotion and selfless voluntary service” on this project “has made the jobs of the Catering Team easier and safer”.

Many congratulations to Angela, Keira and Jason on their well-deserved wins.

We are sure that there are lots of our staff going above and beyond, so if you know of any Kent Hospitality staff member from either the Canterbury or Medway campus, it is quick and easy to nominate them for a PRIDE Award. To submit a nomination, just visit the PRIDE website and complete our online form.

The award is given in March, June, September/October and December with each winner receiving £100 of shopping vouchers, a certificate and a PRIDE pin badge.

The closing date for the next PRIDE Award is currently Wednesday 2 December 2020 at 12 noon.

Picture shows; Angela, Keira and Jason with their certificates.

Academic Promotions 2017

Celebrating academic success

Eighty-five academic colleagues are celebrating their promotion to professor, reader, senior lecturer or senior research fellow in the 2019-20 academic year.

The new professors are:

Division of Arts and Humanities

Julie Anderson (History), Juliette Pattinson (History), Henrik Schoenefeldt (Architecture and Planning), Anna Schaffner (Comparative Literature)

Professor Anna Schaffner

Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Richard Guest (Engineering and Digital Arts), Rachel McCrea (Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science)

Professor Rachel McCrea

Education Directorate

Kathleen Quinlan

Division of Human and Social Sciences

Markus Bindemann, (Psychology), Matthew Skinner (Anthropology and Conservation)

Professor Matthew Skinner (with Professor Tracy Kivell)

Professor Matthew Skinner (with Professor Tracy Kivell)

Kent Business School

Joseph Amankwah-Amoah

Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice

Lindsay Forbes (Centre for Health Services Studies), Karen Jones (PSSRU)

Division of Natural Sciences

John Dickinson (pictured – Sport and Exercise Sciences), James Hopker (Sport and Exercise Sciences)

Professor John Dickinson

Professor John Dickinson

Alison Ross-Green, Director of HR and Organisational Development, said:

‘The University is dependent upon the personal growth and career attainment of its academic staff to refresh, develop and strengthen our organisation for the future. Congratulations to all those promoted in 2019-20. Your hard work and focus on excellence help to ensure the outstanding student experience, research achievement and funding that is so important to our success going forward.’

You can see the full list of Academic Promotions 2019-20 here.

Yong Yan, EDA

Professor Yong Yan becomes Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Professor Yong Yan from the University’s School of Engineering and Digital Arts has received the highest accolade in the field of instrumentation and measurement with a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Yong Yan was one of 50 engineers admitted to the Royal Academy of Engineering at its annual meeting on 22 September. He was recognised for his “distinctive contribution to improving combustion efficiency and lowering emissions through innovation in electronic instrumentation and successful development of novel instruments, thereby making an important impact on the power industry nationally and internationally”.

Commenting on the Fellowship, Yong said: ‘I am very honoured and extremely privileged to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, one of the most prestigious engineering institutions in the world.’

He added: ‘The Fellowship is only awarded to an engineer who has made exceptional contributions in any field of engineering. It will enable me to perform at a higher level in my research and teaching with a range of support and services from the Academy. The recognition will also help me promote the importance of measurement science and engineering to the UK and the wider world.’

Yong is also a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institute of Physics (IOP). He was recently awarded the gold medal as the most published author of all time in the UK from the IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, a leading journal in the field of electrical and electronic engineering. He has published more than 470 papers in international journals and conference proceedings.

Early career

Yong studied for BEng and MSc degrees at Tsinghua University, Beijing, before coming to the UK in 1989 to study for a PhD degree at Teesside. He joined the University of Kent in Canterbury in 2004 from the University of Greenwich (Medway Campus).

‘I joined Kent,’ he said, ‘because it has the best research facility and support in my area of research, including a well-equipped instrumentation laboratory and technical support for applied engineering research.’

Role at Kent

As Professor of Electronic Instrumentation in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, Professor Yan contributes to teaching, research and administration. He was the School Director of Research from 2008 to 2018. Since 2018, he has been the School Director of Innovation, playing a leading role in promotion of engineering innovation and collaborations with industry, as well as managing the Year in Industry modules. Professor Yan also heads the Instrumentation and Control Research Group, including coordination of our REF submission in this area.


Vicky Annis cross-Channel swim

Head of Physiotherapy swims the English Channel

Vicky Annis, Head of Physiotherapy at Kent Sport Physiotherapy Clinic, was part of a four-person relay team swimming across the English Channel on Friday 7 August .

The team – named ‘A Doctor, Teacher, Princess and Frog Go Swimming’ – began their challenge at 1.30am, leaving from Samphire Hoe beach and 11.32 hours later (to be ratified) arrived close to Le Gris Nez in France .

Vicky Annis, cross Channel swim

Vicky Annis swimming the Channel


Vicky describes how she has prepared for a trek of a lifetime during lockdown:  ‘Most of my swimming preparation has been completed at Tankerton and Kingsdown with support from friends and family swimming with me and kayaking. It has been a welcome distraction from the difficulties in the world and every time you get to the shore, there are slightly different conditions which has made it so much fun; whether it is a calm day or windy with the waves and tide to contend with.’

She adds: ‘The English Channel is such a remarkable waterway with so many historical events and tales. Living in Kent, and having always been a swimmer, this challenge was one not to miss!’

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kent Sport Physiotherapy Clinic has been raising funds for the NHS Charities by offering free initial online consultations. Vicky chose charity for her relay channel swim and you can still show your support by donating via this JustGiving link.


Elvis Presley

Linda Hamilton, Elvis and Roman Catholicism: Nostalgia interview with Gaye Morris

In the latest episode of the Nostalgia podcast series, Dr Chris Deacy, Head of the Department of Religious Studies, interviews Gaye Morris. Chris and Gaye collaborated about 15 years ago on a book called Theology and Film, and talk about their rationale in writing it and the relationship between the Christian and the secular world.

Gaye also shares some fascinating anecdotes, including a story about meeting The Terminator series’ Linda Hamilton on a plane and getting three autographs from Lauren Bacall at a European film festival.

Gaye also talks about the time she thought Santa was talking to her as a child, watching Elvis movies at the military base in Germany where her father was posted, being a “Beatlemaniac” and meeting ‘The Zombies’ in a hotel swimming pool.

She reveals why she left the Southern Baptists for Roman Catholicism and is now an ordained Unitarian Universalist, and also talks about working in Yorkshire, the relationship between nostalgia and gas-lighting, and why serendipity is her keyword.

Canterbury campus, Senate view

Condolences for Dr Ian Stone

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Dr Ian Stone on Friday 10 July 2020.

Dr Stone was appointed Administrative Assistant in the Academic Division of the Registry in May 1978. He was then appointed Assistant Registrar in 1982 and by 1985 was Senior Assistant Registrar and Faculty Administrator for the Natural Sciences Faculty. In 1990 Dr Stone moved to the new Research Grants and Contracts Office, as Head, and worked there until he took early retirement in the mid-1990s.

Dr Stone then moved to the Isle of Man and, a scholar of polar studies, became Emeritus Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, being editor of the journal Polar Record for over ten years and publishing more than 60 articles.

Many University colleagues have expressed their sadness at Dr Stone’s death and have looked back with happy memories at a greatly esteemed and entertaining colleague, a very supportive manager and someone who was always ready for a competitive game of squash.

Dr Jeremy Ovenden, former Director of Planning and Student Information, writes: ‘Ian was one of those real characters that you are privileged to come across in your working life. Always entertaining, he delighted his colleagues with his little eccentricities and headed up a happy and motivated office. Yet beneath that exterior was an intelligent, knowledgeable and caring individual and I was grateful for his guidance on many occasions. He will be missed.’

Dr Stone will be remembered with immense fondness. The University expresses its condolences to his family.

Professor George Saridakis

Call for academic papers on Covid-19 themes

Professor George Saridakis from the Kent Business School is leading three special issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic in prestigious academic journals.

Researchers are encouraged to submit papers with strong theoretical and/or empirical focus for consideration for publication in Information Technology & People, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research and Sustainability.

The titles of the special issue calls are:

Professor Saridakis said: ‘It is a great pleasure to contribute to the Covid-19 research by co-editing three special issues with distinguished colleagues on these timely themes at some of the leading academic journals in this field.

‘The special issues aim to answer some important questions in each of the above Covid-19 related themes. With answers, we can shape policies that are more effective and, can improve personal and societal wellbeing.’

For more information on the Special Issues, prospective authors can contact Professor George Saridakis directly.