Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Last Goodbye from Middle Earth, well the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences anyway!

Like many of my working weeks, last week was a hectic one. I had a Council of Deans Health Executive meeting, scooted off to London to take part in a NMC Council seminar on future nurse education, had the first Trust Board meeting of 2016, met with the WWL Governors, and presented our School Operational Plan at the University Challenge Day. Last Friday was spent at a University Council Away Day. Friday was also my last working day as Dean of School. Next Monday I start my new role as ICZ Programme Director and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor, something I am very excited about. My interim Dean replacement has been selected and announced (the Dean is Dead, Long Live the Dean), leaving dos were enjoyed and gifts, cards and good wishes exchanged.

I have a new office, which meant packing up my old one ready for moving. This was something that provided a chance to have a really good clear out. After packing most of my books into boxes, it was on to the filing cabinet. Now I had two filling cabinets in my old office, although over the years these had almost fallen into disuse. One had a draw full of coloured clogs, and one had a draw that contained 3 bottles of champagne, a bottle of black whisky, a bottle of white wine and an opened bottle of my favourite malt whisky, Lagavulin.  

However there were more ‘traditional’ finds in the filing cabinet. The first batch of papers I pulled out were written reports and paperwork from some of my old PhD students. I started reading these and the years rolled back. There was one email exchange from a student apologising for her lack of progress, but she was having to deal with ‘real life issues’ – it was the start of her journey of living with, and eventually dying from, liver cancer. The memory of her sitting in my office talking to me about how she was feeling and what lay ahead made me pause and reflect. Over the 9 years of being Dean I have listened to a great number of life stories from my colleagues. Very often these were about challenging events for people, relationships and marriages that had broken down, serious and potentially life shortening illnesses, or frustration and grievances over how changes were being experienced. But they weren’t all like that!

I have many, many good memories of listening to colleagues full of excitement, over an idea they wanted to run with, or the telling of a chance of a new role, promotion or job. I have felt privileged to be able to work with some very creative, motivated and committed individuals. It’s been wonderful to see so many people grow and develop, and to mature as professionals and people. I will miss the daily contact of so many positive people.

I am not so sure I will miss all the overseas travelling I have done during my time as Dean. However, I've been to places I perhaps would never seen had it not been for the job I was doing. So whilst I have been fortunate to have travelled all over the world, trying to fit the travel in as well as doing my day job has often been exhausting and sometimes not very healthy. I have been treated for 2 DVTs during the 9 years – not a good thing! I’m hoping much of my future travels will be more around the University campus rather than around the world.

Some of you might have noticed that this weeks blog looks slightly different than usual. This is a result of my ineptitude in using the programme. I was asked if I intended to continue writing a blog each week, and in thinking about this I had a go at changing the presentation style. Little did I know that it would change every posting I have ever made, and now I cant get back to my original design! I am not sure if I will continue blogging or not. It is something I have enjoyed doing and in what has often been very turbulent times, writing the blog has always felt like finding an oasis in the storm – which for me has been very refreshing. Whilst you will just have to wait until next Sunday to find out if there will be any more blogs, I would like to say thanks to all of you who have continued to read my posts each week. 

The 9 years in the School have flown past, and it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s been so long. As the Rolling Stones almost said – It’s [not always been] only Rock ‘N’ Roll, but I’ve liked it… 

...liked it? 

Yes I have!