University of Nottingham: Gig central

The University has hosted some impressive acts down the years.

It has been quite a long time since the University of Nottingham hosted really big bands. But the history, mainly from the early 70s before the advent of the Boat Club and Rock City, is surprisingly impressive:

Some gigs took place in the Sports Centre, others in Portland. Some other star performers included:

Rod Stewart
Cat Stevens
Mott the Hoople
The Incredible String Band
The Who
Yes
Jethro Tull
The Strawbs
Can
Gong

By AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki - Gallerie: Toppop 1973) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Slade!

And some performances resulted in live albums including from

John Martyn
Soft Machine
Fairport Convention

They fitted in pretty well

We also had

ELO
Roxy Music
The Kenny Ball Orchestra
Wishbone Ash
Lindisfarne
Rory Gallagher

And slightly more recently:

The Damned
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Human League
Squeeze
Dr Feelgood
Simple Minds
Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Cure
Japan

All the big names

Plus:

Cast
808 State
Carter USM
The Levellers

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And some even bigger names

Perhaps the biggest gig at the University was the historic first performance by Wings in the Portland Ballroom. Details of this occasion have previously been published on a University of Nottingham blog

Songkick has a pretty good list of gigs too. But fails to mention Gary Glitter’s show.

Are there any that anyone remembers from this list or that aren’t included here? I’m imagining that Strawbs gig was something special.

 

 

Slade picture:  By AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki – Gallerie: Toppop 1973) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Campus Tours: seeing the university on wheels

Getting mobile on campus.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story on some interesting approaches to making campus tours a little more bearable:

People complain when their feet get sore, the University of North Texas has learned. For years, when visitors were asked what they disliked about the campus tour, the resounding answer was: all that walking. Parents didn’t like trekking around in the heat, and they weren’t too keen on the cold either.

There had to be a better way, North Texas officials decided, to show off their 884-acre campus. “It was like a death march trying to get from one end to the other,” says Jennifer McLendon, the university’s visitor-experience manager.

So three years ago, North Texas bought two 14-passenger electric trams, which can go up to 20 miles per hour. Now the tour has two parts: Guests walk through the heart of the campus, and a tram takes them around the perimeter, stopping several times along the way. The open-air vehicles have hard tops that block the sun, and in the winter, when temperatures can dip into the 30s, clear plastic flaps cover the sides.

North Texas is one of at least a dozen colleges that in recent years have adopted a walking-riding hybrid for tours. With buses, vans, golf carts, and Segways, today’s campus visits often rely on wheels.

I like the idea of lots of different kinds of vehicles ferrying visitors around campus and where the acreage is big there probably aren’t too many alternatives.

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University Park – University of Nottingham. Quite big.

With a very large campus at University Park and multiple other campuses in and beyond Nottingham, the University of Nottingham inevitably has to provide buses for visitors on open days. We have yet to resort to buggies and Segways but, as this earlier True Crime on Campus post noted, a golf buggy has been seen on campus before. And of course from late 2014 we will have a new Tram service running through University Park.

The Graduate Programme for University Leadership

An excellent programme for graduates looking to develop careers in university management.

Recruitment for the Graduate Programme for University Leadership has recently gone live and the pitch is a good one:

The university sector is one of the most innovative, vibrant and exciting environments in which to build your future career. If you’re looking for a graduate programme that leads to a highly successful and dynamic career in an entrepreneurial, global business, The Graduate Programme for University Leadership is it.

Are you ready for a career in a world of discovery?

This cutting-edge programme will show you how the challenging and stimulating business of a university operates. You’ll meet some of the most talented people in the country, if not the world, and gain an inside view into the sector’s management and business processes. A key aspect of your training will see you working alongside a diverse range of partners, from students and employers to funding bodies and commercial organisations.

It’s the opportunity to contribute to a life you have already experienced and enjoyed, and make a difference to the learning of future generations of students. What’s more, you’ll be working at the heart of fast-paced and world-leading commercial organisations that, rather unusually, are not primarily motivated by profit-making.

The University of Nottingham has run a similar programme for number of years (and indeed has played an active role in the development of this national scheme) and you can find details of the Nottingham offer here.

It’s a great initiative and one I’m really pleased that the University of Nottingham is part of. The sector really does need to train and develop many more professional service leaders and this programme will be a major contributor to that as it grows in future years.

Zombie University

Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education

Very excited at the news of the publication of Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education. Ever since the launch of the zombie course at the University of Baltimore there has clearly been plenty of room for further undead related higher education activity. This is though a very serious text with serious intent:

Zombies in the Academy taps into the current popular fascination with zombies and brings together scholars from a range of fields, including cultural and communication studies, sociology, film studies, and education, to give a critical account of the political, cultural, and pedagogical state of the university through the metaphor of zombiedom. The contributions to this volume argue that the increasing corporatization of the academy—an environment emphasizing publication, narrow research, and the vulnerability of the tenure system— is creating a crisis in higher education best understood through the language of zombie culture—the undead, contagion, and plague, among others. Zombies in the Academy presents essays from a variety of scholars and creative writers who present an engaging and entertaining appeal for serious recognition of the conditions of contemporary humanities teaching, culture, and labor practices.

Zombie university?

Zombie university?

Some of the chapter titles give more information about the thrust of the arguments here:

  • ‘Being’ post-death at Zombie University
  • University life, zombie states and reanimation
  • The living dead and the dead living: contagion and complicity in contemporary universities
  • Zombie processes and undead technologies
  • Virtual learning environments and the zombification of learning and teaching in British universities
  • Mapping zombies: a guide for digital pre-apocalyptic analysis and post-apocalyptic survival
  • Undead universities, the plagiarism ‘plague’, paranoia and hypercitation
  • EAP programmes feeding the living dead of academia: critical thinking as a global antibody
  • Zombies are us: the living dead as a tool for pedagogical reflection
  • Escaping the zombie threat by mathematics
  • Toward a zombie pedagogy: embodied teaching and the student
  • Living-dead man’s shoes? Teaching and researching glossy topics in a harsh social and cultural context

Really looks good and the ideal book for reading on the beach this summer.

Getting on my bike…

A shortish ride for a very good cause

During the last two summers a team from the University of Nottingham led by our Vice-Chancellor cycled ridiculously long distances to raise money for good causes. The team did not include me and they have sensibly overlooked me again as they cycle round the capital cities of the British Isles, starting and ending up in Nottingham. However, I am joining them on September 1st for the last leg of the journey, from Nevill Holt in Leicestershire back to the University, a mere 55 miles.

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The Life Cycle 3 website has full details of the latest adventure which this year is raising money for stroke rehabilitation research. Stroke is the commonest cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Around 130,000 people suffer a stroke every year. A third will die; a third will make a full recovery; a third will suffer serious disability. No age group is immune – an average of six children under 16 suffer a stroke each week. Experts from The University of Nottingham are leading the way in stroke rehabilitation research. The work addresses the often neglected needs of stroke survivors following hospital care, and the need for stroke specialist provision of rehabilitation at home.

I realise mine is a pretty modest effort but do please consider supporting me and donating via this Just Giving site. My pedalling won’t be nearly as impressive as the team cycling for the best part of a fortnight but it will be hard work nevertheless.

With many thanks

Paul

2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities: Top 20 and UK placings

2013 ARWU University World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

A level results day is an interesting time to publish a world ranking but who are we to criticise.

Anyway, don’t get too excited as it is unlikely the bookies will be losing their shirts on this one. Here is the top 20 in full. It is almost identical to last year’s with only one new entrant at number 20.

1 Harvard University
2 Stanford University
3 University of California, Berkeley
4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
5 University of Cambridge
6 California Institute of Technology
7 Princeton University
8 Columbia University
9 University of Chicago
10 University of Oxford
11 Yale University
12 University of California, Los Angeles
13 Cornell University
14 University of California, San Diego
15 University of Pennsylvania
16 University of Washington
17 The Johns Hopkins University
18 University of California, San Francisco
19 University of Wisconsin – Madison
20 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

The full rankings have been published and are now available at the ARWU website

As last year (and the year before that and the year before that) there are really no surprises and almost no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the seventh successive year and everyone else just about unchanged too. Probably for the best.

In terms of the UK placings, again very little change with only spme slight upward movement for a few institutions.

1
University of Cambridge 5
2
University of Oxford 10
3
University College London 21
4
The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 24
5
The University of Manchester 41
6
The University of Edinburgh 51
7
University of Bristol 64
8
King’s College London 67
9
University of Nottingham 83

Let’s hope there will be a tad more excitement with the other league tables from QS and THE later in the year.

The Imperfect University: Know Your History

Know your history.

For my 700th blog post here I thought I would reflect on university histories. Given their nature it’s often struck me as rather surprising that universities and their staff tend not to have a well developed sense of institutional history.

Research matters to universities but they tend not to prioritise maintaining their own records for future researchers. It’s possibly that universities are generally not brilliant at comprehensive record keeping because of their devolved nature and more recently because of the shift from paper to digital but nevertheless there are core records around, for example see Nottingham’s institutional collection. Plus there is enough oral history available from longer established staff to last a lifetime if you ask for it.

Anyway, my contention is that staff at every level of the University need to know more about their institution’s past.

Testing times

To make this point, a while ago I imposed a quiz on some of my colleagues about the University as it was 60 years previously. The questions included the following (and I’ve added the answers here to avoid any distress):

  • In 1950, on 11 July, we had “degree day”. How many ceremonies did we have in July this year in the UK? (Answer – 16 in the summer – but note there were more ceremonies at the Malaysia and China campuses as well as winter ceremonies)
  • How many Senate meetings were there in 1949-50? (There were seven. We now have three per annum.)
  • How many Council meetings? (There were nine. We now have six a year.)
  • In 1949-50, Council had how many members? (37. We now have 25.)
  • Senate membership? (A mere 35 members. We now have over 100.)
  • Fee for a full-time BA? (It was £31,10s, equivalent in 2013 would be £943.06.)
  • Resit fee? (10/6)

Not surprisingly they didn’t do terribly well. Even though these were the easy questions.

A new history

Recently, the University commissioned a new history primarily to cover last the 20 years or so of institutional activity and capture some of the most major changes at Nottingham, including in particular the establishment of the international campuses in Malaysia and China. We were also keen to ensure we recorded a lot of learning and information in a more comprehensive archive than would be publishable (also recognising that the pace of change and move from hard copy to electronic has made record keeping more problematic) but which would be a valuable resource for future historians.

The previous history (in two large volumes) by Dr B H Tolley covered mainly the period 1948, the year the institution received its Royal Charter, through to 1988, with plenty of material too from the earlier period of the operation of University College Nottingham since its inception in 1881.

The last history. Not very portable.

The last history. Not very portable.

Whilst Tolley’s magnum opus offered comprehensiveness it lacked a certain degree of readability. I believe there are still copies available through Amazon (although not at bargain prices).

Beyond this though there are other accounts of the University of Nottingham, its Vice-Chancellors and the estate. A previous post commented on the souvenir brochure from this event which included more details of the Trent Building design.

More books

More books

My favourite is the 1928 book (unnamed) which dates from the opening of Trent Building by King George V. A brief silent film records the event:

Nottingham’s New University

Jesse Boot, in his foreword to this 1928 publication, commented:

At the moment of the opening by His Majesty the King, when the stones of the coming University are still unweathered by time, it is difficult to appreciate the full significance of this educational development. Thousands of students yet unborn will pass along the corridors and learn in the lecture rooms, and wrest the secrets from nature in the laboratories. Their work will link still more closely industry with science, add to the honour of the City and help to increase the well-being of our nation.

The significance of this is that there is a common thread running from Boot’s original vision for the new University College through the Royal Charter to the current strategy of the University.

More landmarks

There are other important milestones in the University’s history. For example, knowing that Gandhi spoke to a packed Great Hall back in 1931 gives additional depth to our international strategy.

A good turnout

A good turnout

The visit of Einstein who, as this video recounts, delivered a spectacularly unsuccessful lecture to a mixed audience of Germanists who understood no physics and physicists who knew no German (but he did leave some interesting formulae on a blackboard):

Remembering that students campaigned very hard to secure Senate representation over a number of years in the late 1960s and that in 1968 John Dunford, President-elect of the Students’ Union (and recently awarded an Honorary Degree by the University), was the first student to address the Senate.

And of course the cultural landmark that was the first public performance by Paul McCartney and Wings back in 1972.

All of these provide context and a reminder that the success any institution enjoys today is built on the hard work, commitment and brilliance of previous generations of academics and professional services staff. It is clear from the 1928 book referring to the very early days of the University College that there were many challenges during its development:

It must not, however, be thought that the road was smooth, for the obstacles were many. Many of the prosperous bourgeois of the city were inclined to scorn the College because it appeared too democratic, while others openly scoffed at spending money on such subjects as Classics or Philosophy. But it met local needs, and students who were not confined to any special class came from the whole district.

…at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Treasury Inspectors, who had to visit the College to see whether it was entitled to a Government grant wrote that: “We think that the College exhibits the nearest approach of all Colleges which we have visited to a People’s University.”

Decisions taken by staff at all levels of our universities today are not context free. We can all learn from what went before so that we build on our history and are not trapped by it. But we do have to know it first.

Legacy

As importantly is the knowledge that part of all our jobs is about stewardship – about ensuring that the generations of students and staff who follow us are able to achieve even more by building on what we leave behind. As Alderman E Huntsman, Mayor of the City of Nottingham and Chair of the Council of Nottingham University College, noted (again in the 1928 book):

We of today owe more than we can express to our forefathers…The Council and Senate of the University College are not unmindful of their responsibilities, and assure all those into whose hands this book may pass, that they are resolved that the great ideals of Sir Jesse for a University with the complete right of self-government, and the power to shape its courses to meet the special needs of local industries and conditions, shall be accomplished to the full. The gifts recorded in this book and offered to the People’s University will assuredly bear fruit for all time.

Anyway, I’m now really excited by the prospect of the publication next year of a new history of the University of Nottingham. It’s being prepared by very wonderful and diligent Professor John Beckett of the School of Humanities and will bring things up to date as well covering some of the earlier history in outline. It will I hope also have the advantage of being highly readable, and including much more material about students and the student experience (largely neglected in previous publications) and, rather marvellously, will have pictures too.

The Trent Building

The Trent Building

But let’s leave the last word to Jesse Boot who in the 1928 book in commenting on the future history of University College Nottingham says that the final chapter is as yet unwritten but

will tell in due season how the University College won its Charter, and thus Nottingham became the seat of a great people’s University, which in each succeeding age will spread the light of learning and knowledge, and will bind science and industry in the unity that is so essential for the prosperity of the nation and the welfare of our fellow citizens.

Powerful stuff.

So, know your history.

True Crime on Campus §30: Summer break?

Yet more true crime on campus.

Things can be difficult on campus sometimes. Even during the summer break there is still plenty to challenge our ever-alert security team. Especially when the weather is hot:

0740 Report that toilets in the Dearing Building had been blocked with newspaper Security attended. Estates Help Desk informed.

0115 Report of two residents with painful ankles following dancing in the Mooch bar. The residents asked if Security could take them back to the Hall in a Security vehicle both residents taken back to the Hall.

1645 Patrol Security Officers spoke to a large group of youths who were in the Fountain adjacent to the Humanities Building. The youths were asked to leave Campus Officers had to request the Police to attend before the youths left Campus.

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1750 Report of children swimming in the fountain adjacent to the Humanities Building Security attended and asked the children to get out of the water and not to swim in there.

1950 Report from a member of Staff that they had dropped their keys down the lift shaft in the Sir Colin Campbell Building. Security attended and were able to recover the keys.

A duck (recovered)

A duck (recovered)


0756 Report of a duck with a broken leg at North Entrance to University Park Security Staff called the RSPCA who stated that as the duck could fly they would not attend.

1832 Report of a bottle of water being thrown from a vehicle driving the wrong way down Cut Through Lane. Security attended the vehicle has been identified Officers are to follow up.

1720 Report of a Conference Delegate with stomach pain. Security and an Ambulance attended.

0134 Request for an Ambulance to Abbey house as one of the occupants was giving birth.

0150 Complaint of noise in Sherwood Hall. Security attended – the noise was Delegates returning to their rooms. No action taken by Officers.

0245 Complaint of noise outside Melton Hall. Security attended and spoke to a group of people outside the Hall and asked them to keep the noise down.

1410 Report of a wasps nest in the Sports and Social Club. Mitie called out.

1430 Patrol Security Officers spoke to three males who were fishing in the Lake at the Jubilee Campus. Officers explained that there is no fishing allowed on the Campus and asked the males to leave.

1641 Patrol Security Officers asked a group of people who were in the Lake at Jubilee Campus to get out and leave the Campus.

1730 Patrol Security Officers asked a group of people who were in the Lake at Jubilee Campus to get out and leave the Campus.

2120 Patrol Security Officers asked a group of youths to leave Jubilee Camus who were playing football close to buildings.

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1220 Patrol Security observed a small child on a tricycle fall into the Lake at Jubilee Campus. The child’s Grandfather got the child out and the Officer was able to get the child’s cycle out of the water. The child was unhurt, just wet. They were taken home by the Grand parent.

1950 Request from resident regarding birds in his chimney. Security attended and the bird – a Jackdaw – was apprehended by Officers. The Jackdaw was released by Officers after being removed from the House. At the request of the occupant Contractors were called out to board up the fireplace.

0905 Report that Conference Delegates in Newark Hall had items stolen from their rooms. Security attended – it was discovered that the Delegates were on the wrong floor of the Hall. All items were safe in their rooms.

2354 Intruder alarm Hallward Library. Cause of activation due to a bat having flown into the area. Security attended. Officers were able to get the bat to leave the Building.

Go West. Or East. Plans for more student mobility

Government wants more students to travel.

There is to be a Government initiative to persuade more students to travel. The aim is that more UK students will be encouraged to broaden their horizons by travelling overseas for part of their degree courses.

The new UK Outward Student Mobility Strategy aims to boost the number of students gaining vital international experience from overseas study and work placements, allowing them to complete in the global race for jobs and skills.

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Currently just one UK student studies abroad for every 15 international students in the UK – and the UK lags behind Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland in accessing the European Commission’s Erasmus funding for study or work placements.

The strategy, developed by the UK Higher Education International Unit, comes on the same day as the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which is providing initial funding for the strategy, publishes its International Education Strategy.

According to the International Unit the Strategy will be consulted on during summer 2013 and published at the start of the coming session. The strategic activities involved will include:

  • Research and data collection
  • Promotion and awareness-raising campaign for study and work placements overseas
  • Coordination of financial support for mobility opportunities
  • HEI services to build capacity and influence
  • An online hub for all information and resources relevant to outward student mobility.

There is some way to go it seems before we get a full strategy. It is to be hoped that it does offer some useful assistance to universities as there is undoubtedly real value in student mobility and the UK is genuinely lagging in this area. Significant improvement to the position will though require substantial and sustained activity, by Government and institutions, and will not happen overnight.

‘University of Nike’ in Oregon

A huge investment in university sport.

 

The New York Times has a report on the opening of a hugely expensive new facility to enhance the University of Oregon’s football programme. It comes courtesy of a sizeable donation from one of the founders of Nike.

The Football Performance Center, which was unveiled publicly this week, is as much country club as football facility, potentially mistaken for a day spa, or an art gallery, or a sports history museum, or a spaceship — and is luxurious enough to make N.F.L. teams jealous. It is, more than anything, a testament to college football’s arms race, to the billions of dollars at stake and to the lengths that universities will go to field elite football programs.

The performance center was paid for through a donation from Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, an Oregon alumnus and a longtime benefactor of the university. During a tour of the complex Wednesday, university officials declined to give a dollar figure, even a ballpark one, insisting they did not know the total cost of a football center where even the garbage cans were picked with great care to match the overall design. (Early design estimates placed the center’s cost at $68 million, which, based on the tour, seemed conservative.)

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The tour lasted more than three hours and covered the full 145,000 square feet of the complex (with 60,000 additional square feet of parking). Nike and its relationship with Oregon are obvious early and throughout. One small logo outside the Ducks’ locker room featured the university’s mascot, wearing a top hat adorned with a dollar sign. Oregon football is often viewed through that lens by outsiders, who derisively have christened Oregon as Nike University.

A video is available here which gives a flavour of this extraordinary facility. The characterisation of the college football competition as an arms race seems particularly apposite. This level of investment for just one sport at a university is breathtaking.

Go Ducks!

How Green is my Campus?

An exciting new tool to count university plants.

A web-based tool to measure plant diversity on university and college campuses has been developed by the University of Northampton with funds from HEFCE.

The index

The Biodiversity Index is an interactive system which allows organisations with little or no knowledge of biodiversity to assess the level of plant diversity on their land quickly, simply and scientifically.

What does the Biodiversity Index do?

Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of all forms of life – living organisms, the genetic differences between them and the ecosystems in which they occur.

The index enables universities and colleges to identify their different habitats and to make a simple but scientific assessment of the plant diversity of those habitats. The website then makes calculations based on the data, and gives a biodiversity score, a summary and a printable report.

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The Index offers tips on how to improve the diversity of habitats, with links to further reading and advice. Many of these suggestions are cost-neutral, and some may actually save money while improving biodiversity. Users of the Biodiversity Index can access information to help them:

  • develop a Biodiversity Action Plan
  • identify a range of activities to benefit biodiversity on campus
  • fulfil corporate social responsibility goals
  • fulfil responsibilities as a public body under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
  • raise staff engagement in biodiversity conservation.

It’s an interesting development. Will institutions take advantage of it or indeed the (paid for) consultancy on offer alongside the index? I don’t know but it does look like a potentially useful addition to universities’ wider biodiversity activities