University students and staff recognised in Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

Students and staff have been recognised for making an exceptional contribution to the University of Portsmouth and the local community at the first-ever Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.

Certificates were presented to 14 individuals and teams for a range of initiatives and achievements including delivering CPR training to school children, helping adults with autism find jobs,  students providing free legal advice to local residents, and projects raising the profile of the University both in the city and abroad.

A further 13 individuals and teams also received commendations after they were nominated by their peers for helping students, colleagues and the community.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: “I’m very pleased that we’ve introduced the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence this year, to celebrate the positive difference our staff and students have made to the University and community. Our success as a top 25 university with gold-rated teaching would not be possible without the creativity, dedication and passion of our staff and students. They invest an enormous amount of skill and effort into realising the University’s values, ambition and success. Their outstanding achievements deserve to be recognised in this way.”    

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

Beatriz López, Department of Psychology

Beatriz established and runs the Autism Centre for Research on Employment, working with four local authorities with funds from the Department of Health. The centre has helped around 75 adults with autism find jobs through a range of support services, including an innovative assessment tool that provides employers with extensive information about individual strengths and weaknesses, and adjustment needs. This has led to interest across Europe including recognition in the Department of Health’s Autism Adult Strategy.

Jennifer Gupta, Institute of Cosmology & Gravitation

Jennifer is an astrophysicist and science communicator extraordinaire. She has transformed schools and public engagement from ad hoc responses to a programme of coordinated events in target schools. She puts Portsmouth on the map with the Stargazing Live events, from the original BBC version to the now annual event in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Jennifer’s a regular media presence and was also instrumental in bringing astronaut Tim Peake to Portsmouth Guildhall to meet and inspire hundreds of local school children.

John Williams, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

John’s collaboration with Southern Water to form the Innovation Hub at the Environmental Technology Field Station in Petersfield, has revitalised the facility into a thriving research station to pilot technologies to dispose wastewater efficiently, safely and cleanly. John was provided with £150,000 to upgrade the existing, but run down, field station with an expected return on investment of £475,000 over five years. Halfway into the project, and that return has already been exceeded by a further 44% to help solve real-world problems.

(left to right) Matt Smith, Erika Hughes, Walid Benkhaled, Russ Percy, Gregory Smith

Staff and Students on the Applied Theatre Unit, School of Media and Performing Arts

Students worked with staff to create six original performance pieces, based on Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales which were revised to include contemporary events. They took the performances out to local schools to enhance their curriculum, enabling 500 children to experience live theatre – some of them for the very first time. The project also helped staff and students give something back to the community, whilst enhancing the students’ employability skills by working as autonomous theatre companies.

Melanie Fitzgerald, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

The Creative Volunteers are a team of students who deliver creative workshops to schools and colleges across Portsmouth, offering an insight into the University and the creative industries to raise aspirations. Melanie started the project seven years ago with a team of 16 students visiting one local school, dedicating seven hours to work with 75 pupils. Since then the project has grown significantly. From September 2017 to January 2018, 65 students visited seven schools, working with 268 pupils across 96 hours.

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Project, School of Health Sciences and Social Work

Every year in the UK there are around 60,000 cardiac arrests and 270 children die at school due to heart attacks. Using the University’s simulation ambulance, staff and students worked with the NHS to deliver compulsory CPR training to 125 school children across the Isle of Wight. The positive response received from the schools and local media demonstrated that the University had successfully brought its values and expertise into a local community. A second phase of training will be delivered to more schools in Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight.

Sandra Kerr, Department of Student & Academic Administration, Reception at the School of Education and Childhood Studies in St George’s Building

Sandra Kerr redefines the role of a receptionist; she is an advisor, a guide, a listener, a consultant, a supporter, an administrator and a helper – all in one. Everyone in St George’s Building speaks very highly of Sandra, for her outstanding administrative skills and her beaming positivity and passion for her role. Examples of her good work include greeting visitors tired after their long journey with a genuine smile and calm and friendly voice, to helping an international student unfamiliar with the NHS book a hospital appointment.

Sarah Blackmore, Student in the School of Education and Childhood Studies

Sarah Blackmore is a netball enthusiast and a highly academic individual. As president of the University’s netball club she developed the club to such a high standard that it was shortlisted for Hampshire and Isle of Wight’s Club of the Year Award and it was awarded the University’s Athletic Union’s Club of the Year Award. Sarah became the joint head coach of the netball club and was awarded Hampshire Coach of the Year, guiding University teams to promotion, as well as coaching at four different clubs and schools.

Get Active Stay Active Programme Team, Department of Sport and Recreation

The ‘Get Active Stay Active’ programme was funded by Sport England over a three year period, targeted at traditionally hard to reach groups. More than 40,000 sessions were delivered to 3,665 different students, including 40% from a black and minority ethnic background. The key to success was peer to peer delivery with 98 students contributing over 4,700 voluntary hours per year. Staff were also able to tackle psychological barriers by adapting sessions to avoid stress, and focusing on fun and friendships. Sport England recognised the project as outstanding and the University has sustained it permanently.

Sue Noble, School of Art and Design

‘What We Wear Is Who We Are’ was a collaborative project with the College of Fashion at Wuhan Textile University in China. It brought students together for two weeks in Portsmouth and two weeks in Wuhan to co-design garments for a fashion collection inspired by cultural distinctiveness. Sue’s project exemplified the University’s values of global engagement. The project has been used by the British Council as a case study across the world, receiving significant press coverage in China and raising the University’s profile.

University of Portsmouth’s Cheerleading Club, Portsmouth Phoenix

The University’s Cheerleading Club, Portsmouth Phoenix, has delivered the Cheer Off programme with the Department of Sport and Recreation for eight years. This year they’ve engaged with 17 Portsmouth schools. Cheer Coaches thrive as positive female role models, demonstrating the benefits of physical activity to young women over a 10-week programme, culminating in a showcase event where pupils perform their new skills to peers and family. Students involved also benefit from the career enhancing experience through a nationally recognised qualification and in-house training.

Law in Practice Unit, Portsmouth Law School

The unit provides the opportunity for students to give free quality legal advice to the local community through the General Legal Advice Clinic and Small Claims Clinic. Set up in 2013, the programme has grown to include 28 students with a further 44 trained to join in September. With staff support, the students ran five sessions each week this year to deliver advice to over 200 members of the public, providing students with essential skills and helping the not for profit sector in Portsmouth fill the gap following legal aid reforms.

Vincent Pericard, Postgraduate Student within Strategy, Enterprise and Innovation

Vincent has made outstanding contributions to the student experience, in particular, by integrating his ‘WhatsUp’ mobile app into the University’s wellbeing services. ‘WhatsUp’ is a secure, confidential app which provides daily tools to promote positive mental health, and instantly support those students that need help. The app has been downloaded by hundreds of students, providing them with safe and secure access to vital services. The former professional footballer is now completing his masters and continues in his role as a student ambassador promoting the University on open days.

Will Bergstroem, Student of Criminology and Forensic Studies

Will is a dedicated student who has made meaningful contributions to tackle hate crime. Through his own initiative, he is involved in two Hampshire Constabulary groups and is now an intern for the Cross Government Hate Crime Programme, working on a database of hate crime symbols that can be used by police forces. Will’s ambition is to join the police, before working in international crime investigation to fight human trafficking, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Vice-Chancellor’s Commendations for Excellence

  • Antonio Menezes for his leadership of the petroleum student society
  • Chris Brown for his research in education and Professional Learning Networks
  • The team from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science and Sport and Recreation for the collaborative venture with the Portsmouth Schools Sport Partnership
  • Gemma Potts for her work on the community outreach programme on oral health
  • Juliane Kaminski for the media impact of her research on the development and evolution of human social cognition
  • The Psychology Placement Team for an innovative approach to placements and career-enhancing activities for students
  • The team from the Library and Sport and Recreation for their excellence in customer service
  • The nest Team for the social start-up programme
  • The Raising Awareness, Raising Aspiration Personal Tutoring Platform Team for the agile methodology and new ways of working employed to develop the platform
  • The Graduate Destination Team for transforming the University’s approach to the DLHE survey
  • Rachel Robilliard for her support for Campus Sport football leagues and Community Hub, including support for volunteer coaches, referees and the University Community youth football teams
  • Sophie Dampier for her management of an outstanding administration team
  • Toby Meredith for bringing students and industry together to create award-winning media outputs.

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