This month we have marked a year since lockdown began, and I would like to thank you for your incredible efforts over this period. In our year of working remotely, colleagues have: delivered more than 3,000 online teaching modules; continued our essential research activities; collaborated with our public and private sector partners to support the national effort; established a testing centre in the Barony; and, we have all transformed the way we live and work.
On Tuesday of this week, the First Minister confirmed that lockdown restrictions will begin to lift from the beginning of April, offering real hope and optimism for the year ahead. The Scottish Government’s route map aims to have the lowest level of restrictions in place across Scotland by the end of June. The news follows the excellent progress in the roll-out of the vaccine, with Scotland on track to have offered all nine of the priority groups a first dose by mid-April. You can see full details of the expected lockdown-easing timetable on the Scottish Government website.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our University community remains our first priority and continues to drive all of our decision-making. As a reminder, we have extended our Rest & Recuperation Fridays until all of Scotland’s children and young people are back to school on a full-time basis after Easter. That means our final rest day will fall on Friday 16 April, and from the following Friday onwards, we will revert to Meeting-Free Fridays in recognition of the positive feedback this initiative has received.
To complement the many activities available for our wellbeing month, ‘Hello March’, I’m pleased to tell you that a new series of Agile Working seminars will begin in April; these are intended to support the acceleration and broadening of our approach to working practices going forward. The sessions include:
This week, I am also pleased to tell you that we are now seeking your nominations for The Strathclyde Medals 2021. There is no doubt that our Values [People-Oriented, Innovative, Collaborative, Ambitious and Bold] are playing a critical role in how we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as driving our continued progress towards Vision 2025.
With that in mind, I would ask you to think about nominating staff from across the University who exemplify the Values in their interactions, relationships and commitment to Strathclyde. We will look to recognise both individuals and teams of colleagues. Nominations for the 2021 awards can be made using the online nomination form, and full details about the criteria and process are available on our website. The closing date for nominations is Friday 30 April.
Yesterday, (Wednesday 17 March), members of the Executive Team and I joined the Faculty of Science for our final staff engagement session of the series. I am delighted that in total, more than 1,500 colleagues from across the University attended the sessions, with recordings of the sessions now being made available to those unable to join the live meetings. Thank you for your participation, your excellent feedback, questions and constructive dialogue.
The day also brought our Leadership Group together for our regular meeting and we also discussed the latest plans for the global COP26 conference in Glasgow. There is an enormous amount of activity happening across the University, from sustainability teaching and operations, to sustainable procurement, community engagement, our major campus projects and collaboration with partners in Glasgow city centre. The level of Strathclyde’s engagement reflects our ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2025 on our journey to net zero by 2040 or earlier. We will keep you updated with the latest information as our plans unfold.
There was more good news in Glasgow City Innovation District this week when we announced with our partners that a new 5G network will be created in the Technology and Innovation Centre. Our partnership with Cisco and the Scotland 5G Centre will provide opportunities for organisations internationally to innovate and test new technologies on private mobile and wireless networks. These could include game-changing applications in transport, space, health, manufacturing, agriculture and fintech, as well as efforts to connect people with rural-based projects and networks.
Finally, our University Challenge team took to our TV screens again this week having become our first Strathclyde team to reach the quarter finals before being knocked out by Magdalene Cambridge on Monday night. They played terrifically well and have set the bar high for next year’s team – many congratulations to them.
Please enjoy your Rest Day, stay safe and well, and thank you again for your ongoing efforts.