Thursday, 20 September 2012

Campus updates - new academic year

Summer seems to have just blown by.  The Long Grass of summer did not seem to arrive this year, for a variety of reasons.  I describe this notion of long, sunny days with few deadlines and lots of freedom to undertake those not urgent, not important items that always seem to be left untouched on the to do or action list, despite being 'worthy'.

My summer starts after the MBA International Management/ MSc International Management Distance Learning plenary session has taken place at the Royal Holloway, University of London campus in Egham.  So why did summer pass so quickly ?  On campus we had an exceptionally strong year with post graduate students and this saw me supervise double my usual number.  We had weeks and weeks of rain and cool weather, so spring in Jun and July rather than hot and balmy, but fortunately this was resolved (thanks to the excellent planning and management provided by Lord Coe and the London 2012 Olympic team) and we have a great buzz about the place over the Olympic periods.  Surprising to see so many (often stereotyped as grumpy, aloof, uncommunicative) English people volunteering to support the games.  70,000 or so I vaguely remember, successful evidence of a great Cameron government "initiative" to boost our under funded public services.  Umm. 

Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, South Wales
The genuinely warm and effusive greeting provided to Olympic visitors was surprisingly amazing, and will have done British Tourism a big favour, as even I was impressed and felt welcomed.  So just at the point of getting used to the sun, being outside and having a good feeling for outdoor dining, September was upon us and my children had to return to school.  We moved house and managed to get a few days by the sea in beautiful (but a bit too cloudy and rainy) Gower peninsula in Wales, and as I write I am surrounded with unpacked boxes, full of stuff I probably don't need and we definitely have no where left to put it.  Wham ! Bam  ! - summer over, nearly before it started. 

I have now spent a couple of days back on campus (dissertation marking return, a hernia inducing pile) and have been delighted to find out that the Green Mermaid has made her way onto our hallowed turf.  Many of my colleagues find fault with Starbucks, but unfortunately I love successful global brands - I want to know why they are - and the standard Starbucks coffee is a flavour I love.  Expect to see me more often at Cafe Jules in the International Building over the coming term....

The old boiler house (at one point under consideration for an MBA dedicated facility) boasts a new glass atrium roof, I think it might be an exciting new drama space.  And lastly, in what might be a scam cost saving activity from poor old Royal Mail (you'll notice now that many of what should be bright red post boxes are rather faded and past their best), we have a golden post box.  To mark our involvement (Royal Holloway was voted the friendliest Olympic village) and the success of many of the rowing and paddling competitors that used our facilities we have been allowed to paint our post box gold. 

In case you are unfamiliar with the UK post box design, this one betrays its age showing GR under the crown (George Rex - Latin I think for George King).  Post boxes installed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952 - 60 years ago) will show ER (Elizabeth Regina - Queen), George VI was the present Queens father. Given the rise of the internet and competitor courier services, I wonder how long the British innovation (universal pre-paid delivery service) will continue ?