Terraces, sandcastles and footprints: ten years at BU

Ten years ago almost to the day I arrived at BU as a Professor in Environmental & Geographical Sciences and was installed in one of the rabbit-hutch offices in Dorset House.  Great office one of the best I ever had and it will forever be linked in my mind with the Formula for the Perfect Sandcastle, the Luck Equation and the growth of Landscan Investigations which was the contaminated land consultancy I used to run out of what was, in those days, Conservation Sciences.  My first year at BU is filled with memories of having to teach a course on Meteorology & Climate Change, something I had not done before; the trauma of buying and selling a house and moving my family to Bournemouth; the birth of my youngest son; and field work that summer in Iceland, Canada and Mexico.  So, while in a reflective mood and given the big changes to the Talbot Campus this summer, what are the big difference at BU ten years on?

When I first started just after RAE-2001 my task was to drive research development, in fact my job description at the time said I had to get the Environmental & Geographical Group to the equivalent of a Grade 4 Department by the next RAE.  For those that don’t remember the old RAE currency, this was a big ask at the time but was achieved with the unit being the most improved within BU in RAE-2008.  The campus was very much as it is now except that there was an empty space where Kimmeridge House is today, the new wing of Christchurch House had yet to be built, but otherwise it was very similar in feel and character as it is today.  Perhaps that is why the summer works seem so transformational?  I played a small role in shaping the campus early on by rescuing the Russell-Cotes Geological Terrace from a heap in a council yard and bringing it to campus to form the centre piece of the front entrance.  I remain very proud of what was achieved here and still think the vision of the original museum curator to create the display in the first place and the decision by the University to support my desire to rescue it, was a fantastic commitment to our rich geological heritage.

In my time I have experience three Vice Chancellors, being appointed originally by Gillian Slater.  I enjoyed the Paul Curran era since I understood, respected and appreciated his drive to make BU a more research active institution.  Those were the days of the Releasing Research and Enterprise Potential which I remember fondly and at its height touched over 50% of staff here at BU.  Since then I have contributed to the birth of Fusion, an elegant concept which epitomises for me much of what a modern university should be about; the creation of new knowledge, its application within society through practice combining to educate the next generation of innovators and decision-makers.  Ten years on there are still challenges to face and work to be done as we continue to transform BU together; an institution and more importantly a body of staff who I am still very proud to be part of.