ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY has appointed a Cardiff-based non-Welsh speaker as its new Vice Chancellor.
On Thursday (Dec 15), Professor Elizabeth Treasure was confirmed as the University’s new Vice Chancellor, starting April 2017.
Professor Treasure’s appointment took place following a recruitment process led by the Chancerllor and Chair of the University’s Council, Sir Emyr Jones Parry.
The appointment follows the departure of Professor April McMahon, who stepped down from her post earlier this year. During Professor McMahon’s tenure as Vice Chancellor, the university was bedevilled by claims – denied by the University – that there was a ‘repressive relationship’ between management and academic staff. Economist John Cable resigned his emeritus professorship because university management was ‘disproportionate, aggressive and confrontational’ and there were protests over the university’s management of the Arts Centre.
During Prof McMahon’s tenure, Aberystwyth dipped from 49th in the 2011 Guardian University Guide to as low as 110th in the tables for 2015.
Professor Treasure is currently Deputy Vice Chancellor at Cardiff University, where she has responsibility for key areas including projects in strategic planning, resources and sustainable development as well as staffing and estates.
“I congratulate Professor Treasure on her appointment as the next Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University,” said Sir Emyr Jones Parry.
“She impressed the selection panel with her strategic vision for the future of the institution, her intellect and her integrity. At a challenging time for the higher education sector, I am confident that Professor Treasure will lead this very special university to new levels of success.”
Professor Treasure holds a BDS in Dental Surgery and a PhD from the University of Birmingham.
Following a range of clinical roles in the National Health Service between 1980 and 1990, Professor Treasure moved to New Zealand, where she concurrently held the roles of Public Health Dentist and Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, at the University of Otago.
In 1995, Professor Treasure was appointed Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Dental Public Health at University of Wales College of Medicine, achieving promotion to Professor in 2000 and being appointed Dean and General Manager at the Dental School and Hospital in 2006.
She was awarded the British Dental Association’s John Tomes Medal for scientific eminence and outstanding service to the profession in 2006 and a FDSRCPS (special) in 2011.
In 2010, Professor Treasure became the first woman to be appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor at Cardiff University.
She is also currently an Independent Member (University) for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board; a member of the Finance Committee of UCAS and the Health and Safety Committee of the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA); a trustee of the Penarth and District Lesotho Trust, and a Council Member of the Cathedral School, Llandaff.
“It is both an honour and a privilege to be appointed Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University,” said Professor Elizabeth Treasure.
“Aberystwyth University has a long and proud tradition of excellence in teaching, research and student experience. It is my aim to build on these strong foundations, working with both the public and business sectors to help drive forward the economic and educational impact of the institution.”
“I am very aware of Aberystwyth’s significant contribution to the development of Welsh-medium teaching in the higher education sector and to the cultural life of Wales as a nation. As the next Vice Chancellor, it is my firm intention to learn the language as a matter of priority to the standard specified in the job description so that I can embrace all aspects of Aber life.”
The person specification for the role included the words: ‘As a bilingual institution situated idyllically on Cardigan Bay, Aberystwyth University is fully aware of its duty to promote and encourage the Welsh language and culture’.
When Professor McMahon was appointed, she promised to learn the Welsh language but did not do so. On announcing her departure, Cymdeithas yr Iaith wrote to the university requesting that a Welsh-speaker be appointed to the post.
Responding to the news of Professor Treasure’s appointment, a spokesperson for Cymdeithas yr Iaith told The Herald:
“It is unfortunate that Professor Elizabeth Treasure does not speak Welsh. In a university like Aberystwyth, the language will be at the core of her work on a day-to-day level within the university and the community. We are, however, glad that she intends to learn Welsh.
“Seeing as Professor Treasure will not begin her role until April, she has time to begin learning Welsh in order to reach the level specified in the job description by then, as a foundation to build on. The most important thing is that she will be able, naturally, to use the Welsh language in formal and informal situations in her work and within the community.
“We also look forward to hearing her plans for working with the Welsh-speaking community, within the university and in Aberystwyth. The Welsh language, community and culture are an essential part of the university and of Ceredigion, and a clear commitment to strengthen the Welsh language within the university is needed, as well as carrying out the plan to re-open Neuadd Pantycelyn by 2019.”
Professor Treasure is expected to take up the post in April 2017 and until then, Professor John Grattan will continue as Acting Vice Chancellor.
“As a university, we owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Grattan for his commitment in steering the institution through this period of transition,” said Sir Emyr Jones Parry.
“As Pro Vice Chancellor with responsibility for the student experience since 2012 and then as Acting Vice Chancellor since February this year, Professor Grattan has played a key role in improving Aberystwyth University’s position in the league tables – including our best performance to date in the National Student Survey in August 2016.”
Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian
NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.
The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.
High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).
NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.
24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.
NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.
Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.
“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.
“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”
Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.
Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.
Major bequests for Aber research
TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.
The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.
Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.
The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.
The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.
“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”
Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.
The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.
“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”
In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.
Driving Wales to international skills success
AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.
The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.
Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.
This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.
Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.
Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.
Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.
“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”
In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.
“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.
“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”
Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.
“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”
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