We speak to Richard Martin, who has recently taken up the role of Director of Academic Services.
In this new role, Richard has responsibility for:
Below we meet Richard and find out more about the new Academic Services Directorate.
What’s the purpose of setting up this new academic services directorate?
There were two key aims behind the change in structure. The first is to give us the opportunity to bring greater integration between these key services and support them in working more closely together, and to ensure that working with faculties and departments is as seamless as possible. This should all add up to a better experience for students and staff.
A lot of these services have been over seen by senior academic staff and so we also wanted to free up some of their time for academic leadership, policy and strategy.
You started as Interim Director of Academic Services in June. What did you do during this period?
I spent time getting to know the teams better and understanding where they saw issues, and where they saw opportunities for integration and improvements. I attended several team meetings in June and July, as well as meeting separately with managers and heads.
I also met with colleagues from across the faculties to get their perspective. I worked primarily with the Faculty Operating Officers, but also with Deans, Heads of Department, Vice Deans and departmental teams supporting education and research.
I then pulled together a discussion paper and shared that widely during August, before having additional follow up meetings with all those who wanted to feed into the process.
How did the feedback you received change the initial thinking for the directorate?
The feedback made it clear that there was the greatest urgency around those services that support education and the wider student experience. And so we decided to focus the remit of the Academic Services Directorate on these areas initially, and that’s the reasoning behind the teams that are currently included in the Directorate.
What are your priorities for the next few months?
Most of all, I want to provide supportive leadership to the teams within the Directorate – the services that they provide are crucial to the functioning of the College. There are real benefits to working more closely together, and also I hope to bring my experience to bear in ensuring that we work more closely with faculties and can respond to their priorities. I have found genuine enthusiasm for this within the teams.
I'm keen to make sure that any changes we make in Academic Services meet the faculties’ needs and that they feel engaged in the process. I am looking forward to working with the Faculty Operating Officers to distil the support requirements from academic staff and students and prioritise those improvements that we need to make at the College.
In terms of specific priorities, we need to improve the experience we provide to student applicants. The demand for our degree programmes is still very strong but we are in a more competitive position now than in the past – I want to up our game now rather than wait and then struggle to retrieve ourselves. This will mean marketing, recruitment and admissions all working even more closely together, and with faculties. In addition, I will also be looking at the organisation of our support for digital learning.
I’ve enjoyed very positive discussions with the officer trustees and the new Managing Director at the Imperial College Union about how we can take this important partnership forward too.
How do you think your previous experience at Imperial will help you in this role?
I’ve spent most of my career at Imperial, and since 2011 until this summer I was the Faculty Operating Officer for the Faculty of Engineering. So I hope that I have a good understanding of how the College works, and how faculties and departments interact with support services.
I am conscious that while I know South Kensington Campus and in particular Engineering inside out, I need to get to work in learning about parts of the College that are less familiar. I am keen to understand more about how the Directorate can support all areas of Imperial. If this sounds like you, please do get in touch!
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