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The new term, and the new academic year, will be the first year when we will be working expressly by our new values: collaboration, respect, integrity and trust. Of course, those values have often been present in what we have previously done, but this year, given current circumstances, we need to be more conscious than ever of their importance. 

One way in which we are bringing these values to the fore is in this year’s Professional Services Recognition Scheme. Each of the values forms a new category for an individual and a team award. In addition, as well as the always popular ‘unsung hero or heroine’, we have a special category, the Vice-Chancellor’s award for exceptional support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award, which is unique to this year’s ceremony, is designed to recognise individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond to deliver outstanding work in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19. And these categories were obviously stimulating because, as at the closing date of 25 September, we had received 250 nominations, up from 180 last year. I am very much looking forward to going through these with my colleagues and to announcing the short list and the winners with the Vice-Chancellor at the special event on 16 December. 

In the spirit of our value of ‘collaboration’, I wanted to highlight some of the activity which the ourcambridge team has undertaken to support the University’s response to COVID-19. One significant project has been leading work relating to remote teaching, learning and assessment. Working in conjunction with our colleagues in Education Services, this has included process design in support of a Remote Teaching, Learning and Assessment 'helpdesk', creating a timeline and work plan for specific tasks, as well as coordinating the production of peer-to-peer support videos from within the academic community. Members of the ourcambridge team have also been heavily involved in designing relevant processes, against incredibly tight deadlines, for the University’s outbreak plan which we were required to produce for the Department for Education. As many of you know, LinkedIn Learning has been rolled out: since its launch in May, we now have over 5,000 users across the University with over 2,000 courses completed. The ourcambridge team has also produced remote working guides, advice on returning to work, developed ‘Safe Space Circles’ and created an Effective Meetings toolkit. The team also coordinated the Recovery Taskforce Lesson Learned survey analysis, and communication of the results, and is now taking forward some of the feedback with the Removal of Paper focus group.  

And this is just a snapshot of what the ourcambridge team has been doing. You all have been similarly adaptable, resourceful and resilient. In particular, I would like to commend the tremendous work done by our departmental staff, such as departmental administrators, HR officers and facilities managers in making University workplaces safe for our staff and students. This has involved a huge amount of effort and could not have been achieved without the successful collaboration of teams working across the Collegiate University with a shared sense of urgency and purpose. In addition, our UIS colleagues have been supporting the University in a myriad of ways with an on-going programme of enhancements to remote working solutions, the installation of spaces for recording lectures and improvements to the Lecture Capture Service, as well as supporting the move of all lectures to an online platform. The UIS team is also responsible for providing round-the-clock IT support to the COVID-19 test laboratory in the Anne McLaren Building and for developing and setting up the IT required to run the Asymptomatic Testing Programme for students in College accommodation. This project has involved the combined expertise of colleagues from across the University working in an agile way, including, in addition to UIS, the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), Clinical School, Estates and Health, Safety and Regulated Facilities.

When I reflect on all that we have all achieved during the past months, it gives me a deep sense of pride – pride in you all and in our University. I know there will be further challenges ahead. However, I am confident that, by working together and supporting each other, we will continue to build a stronger, more connected professional services community in which our values are truly lived.