Archive for February 1, 2014

A Partly Political Message

Posted in Politics on February 1, 2014 by telescoper

You may decide for yourself who this is aimed at!


One Year in Sussex

Posted in Biographical, Brighton with tags , on February 1, 2014 by telescoper

Well, it’s the First of February which means it’s a year to the day since I started my current job as Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Sussex, or MPS for short.

It’s been an eventful year, and not really like I expected. What I mean is that I knew it would be hard work, but the hardest bits were not the things I’d imagined. The first half of the year was primarily involved with appointing new staff to the School. All the interviews and other activities associated with that took up a huge amount of time but I think it all went well in the end. The number of full-time staff in MPS has increased by more than 50% over this time; from 15 to 23 in Mathematics (including 3 new Professors) and from 23 to 38 in Physics & Astronomy. The primary motivation for this is growth in student numbers: the number of undergraduates in Physics & Astronomy has doubled in the last three years or so, and this year we had our biggest ever intake of over 140 students.

All that wasn’t my doing, of course. The expansion of staff numbers was planned before I arrived, and the increase in student numbers is down to hard work by the admissions team.

I spent the latter part of last year involved with planning further expansion of our research activity as the contribution of MPS to the University’s Strategic Plan and am looking forward to turning that into reality over the next year or so.

I’ve tried to ensure that MPS is a friendly and open place for all staff and students, where everyone has a say and everyone feels valued. It’s not for me to say how well I’ve succeeded in that, but I’ll carry on trying.

I should mention some of the frustrations. One is that I became an academic in the first place because I enjoy both teaching and research. When I became Head of School here I found I had so many administrative duties that I had very little time for either of those activities. I got especially depressed about not being involved in teaching because I didn’t see how I could properly understand how things work in MPS without working at the coalface.

Against the advice of several colleagues I decided to teach a full module this year on Theoretical Physics to a class of about 50 students. It’s been a struggle to find the time to prepare everything, as I’m doing this for the first time, but I’ll persevere. Hopefully the students will bear with me while I get my act together. I’m very impressed with their engagement with the material so far, but then they have chosen the Theoretical Physics option so are obviously the intellectual elite of MPS; obviously, that’s my theorist’s bias speaking!

Oh, and in my spare time I grew a beard:


I suppose that will have to do. I’ll be heading up to campus shortly to spend Saturday afternoon in the office. A Head of School’s work is never done..