A strong and effective Branch is dependent on the efforts of members willing to act as Branch Committee members, case workers and management committee observers. While we usually see some movement of colleagues in and out of these positions, this year we are losing two stalwart trade union activists to whom we wish to say thank you, good bye and good luck in your new ventures.
Professor Mandy Merck, of Media Arts, has been the UCU observer of College Council for two years, which requires a willingness to sacrifice hours to sit through interminable Council meetings as a non-participant. Her succinct reports kept the Branch informed of proposals and discussions, which is a vital part of our governance function. She was also a vociferous champion of admin staff under severe pressure during “school-ification”. Mandy will continue to research and her next book will be a study of the social satire film Downsizing (Alexander Payne, 2017), which is all about environmental issues. In conjunction with this we hear she is planning a research bid on film satire, which would include the topic as an area of potential PhD research.
We also say goodbye to equalities champion and activist extraordinaire Professor Clare Bradley of the Health Psychology Research Unit. Clare’s research focuses on the development of well-being outcome measures, used for patients undergoing treatment for diseases such as HIV, diabetes and Parkinson’s. These surveys are now used in over 120 languages, with the central well-being survey known as the “WHO (Bradley) well-being questionnaire”. Over just the last ten years Clare has brought in £1.6 million in research funding to the College – surely making her one of our most successful academics at RHUL. Professor Bradley, who is an alumna of Bedford College, has made a significant contribution to the wider life of the College: she has been a member of our Branch Committee for many years, focusing in particular on equalities issues, and she has supported innumerable colleagues in difficulty through trade union case work; she also served two terms as an elected member of College Council and one term as an elected member of Academic Board. Clare and her entire team are leaving the College to become an independent research body based in Egham.
We say a big “thank you” to these dynamic and impressive women.
It seems a difficult year for staff turnover: more colleagues seem to be taking early retirement, and of course our precarious colleagues were sacrificed as part of the College’s COVID-19 response. Let’s hope the A Level debacle sees most, if not all, of them rehired. As we lose precious activists such as Clare and Mandy, it is vital that we add new activists to the team. It is a difficult time in HE, and in society more generally, so there will be a lot of work for the Branch in 2020-21. If you think you might be able to get involved, in any way, get in touch at the Branch email: rhulucu2018 at gmail.com.
Posted on behalf of the RHUL-UCU Branch Committee