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Friday 7 November 2014

The Vice-Chancellor's blog, three months in

My first three months at Southampton Solent University have passed quicker than I ever could have imagined. Meeting the staff, students and community that give this campus such a vibrant feel has made every day a genuine pleasure – and it’s because of this that I want to begin my first post on the new university blog by saying thank you to everyone I have met so far.

From staff conferences and informal ‘conversations’ to cultural fairs and boat shows, every event I have attended has allowed me to gain valuable insight into what excites, inspires, and matters to the people who work and study here.

A dance workshop at the University’s One World Fair

Something which has made a particular impression on me is Southampton Solent’s engagement with the wider community, both in the Southampton region and globally. During my first three months I’ve been fortunate enough to get involved with a wide range of community and business events, and I’ve been impressed by the warm regard in which the University is held.

For Solent to continue to grow and thrive, I believe it’s essential that we expand our efforts in this area – and capitalise on the strength of our local and international connections.

The unveiling of Solent Whisper at the Southampton Boat Show was a great example of Solent building a reputation in the wider world. Designed by Solent graduate and lecturer Ron Price, the boat made a genuine impact on the inshore racing and sailing community and helped spread the word about Solent’s innovative graduates and state-of-the-art engineering facilities.

Solent Whisper, sailing on its innovative hydrofoils

Another project that’s giving our university real presence within Southampton is our student-run store, Re:So. The quality of the products on sale at Re:So speaks volumes about the hard work, dedication and talent of our creative students, and during my visit I spoke to industry figures with whom the locally sourced and ethically produced ethos of the store has really resonated.

Industry figures also come into the University on a regular basis, recognising the quality of the students we have and the work they undertake. I have met mentors who are helping our students prepare for work, and attended events with leading business figures organised by the Business School.

After commenting about our Premiership football team in my first videocast it is great to see how they have started the season. Our staff, students and ex-students have been involved in supporting the club, along with other sides riding high in their respective divisions such as Reading and Bournemouth.

Paulo Gazzaniga from Southampton FC worked with staff and students in our physiology laboratory

Looking farther afield, my visit to Malaysia and Hong Kong paved the way for collaborative projects and exchanges with institutions like Limkokwing University of Creative Technology and Hong Kong’s Maritime Services Training Institute, who are keen to work with us in the future. Solent’s vision of becoming a truly international university has never been closer.

Every day I spend here I learn something new about Southampton Solent, helping me to expand my understanding of this dynamic, innovative and vibrant place. My first three months have been fantastic, and I’m proud to be working for a university that puts students at the heart of everything it does. We’ve got a promising future ahead of us.