This week has been an enjoyable time of celebration for our University community with the arrival of our Autumn graduations - the first ceremonies in the Barony Hall for two years! Graduations are always the highlight of the academic calendar, but it is particularly poignant to see our students cross the stage to be “capped” and then join their friends, families and supporters after the challenges of the pandemic.
During lockdown, the Barony closed its doors before becoming an on-campus COVID-19 testing centre last year. To see it filled with life and laughter once again has been joyous and I am looking forward to seeing many more students graduating in the coming days over a programme of 29 ceremonies.
I know you will join me in congratulating the Class of 2021, and I offer my warm thanks and appreciation to all of you who have helped and supported them on their way. As they move into the next stage of their careers and join our global alumni family, they will carry with them the skills, experience, care for others and ‘can-do’ Strathclyde attitude that have been the hallmark of our response to the pandemic; they are indeed the products of “Useful Learning”.
With our ongoing adherence to COVID-19 safety guidance, I am pleased to tell you that cases of COVID-19 in the University community remain low. It is also encouraging to hear Scottish Government reports that there is no sign so far of any significant spike in cases associated with COP26.
However, there has been a gradual increase in cases more generally across Scotland over the last two weeks, and with several European countries experiencing a sharp increase, it is clear that we must continue to follow the guidance to keep our University community safe and well.
As we move towards winter, it is also important that we look after our wellbeing and mental health. Yesterday, Gill Watt, our Director of Student Experience, wrote to all students to remind them of the range of support services that are open to them. Similarly, I would warmly encourage you to consider your own wellbeing – and that of the people around you. Please remember that you can find information, advice and support on our Wellbeing & Working from Home Hub on our website.
We will also shortly be sharing further information about opportunities to become more physically active, in response to an idea submitted to our latest Strathclyde Innovation Forum Grand Challenge. The submission recognised that some colleagues feel they are less active when working from home and no longer commuting to campus.
I am also pleased to tell you that all members of the University community, both staff and students, have free access to ExHALE, Strathclyde Sport’s programme for those looking to add more movement into their daily routine. It includes numerous resources including short workout videos, social activities, progress and goals setting support, and additional health and wellbeing advice.
With thanks to Neil Brown and the Strathclyde Sport team, you can find full details of what is available in next week’s Inside Strathclyde. We will also soon be reporting back on how we have responded more generally to ideas submitted to the third Grand Challenge – many thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts and ideas; they really do make a difference.
Finally, in line with the Strathclyde Pledge within our People Strategy, the Culture & Values Strathclyde Acceleration Team has been working collaboratively with students and staff from across the University to develop the Strathclyde Community Commitment – a shared pledge which sets out how we will continue to create a welcoming, safe and thriving environment for everyone. The Commitment has been published on our Safe360 web page today, and I warmly encourage you to read it and engage with it.
Have a great weekend when it comes.