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Exceptional contributions by University students and staff recognised at Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

Students and staff who have made exceptional contributions to the University of Portsmouth and the community were recognised at the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.

12 awards and 10 commendations were awarded to individuals and teams at a celebration event at the New Theatre Royal, to recognise a range of achievements including supporting students with complex mental health difficulties, showcasing motion capture and virtual realities, raising money for homeless charities, and encouraging students to progress to college and university, who might not otherwise think of doing so.

Vice-Chancellor Graham Galbraith said: “Our people are at the heart of all that is good at the University. Our teaching is recognised as gold-rated by the Government and we are ranked in the top 25 universities in the UK. But this success is not possible without the creativity, dedication and passion of our staff and students.

“I was pleased that a number of people from the community joined us in the celebrations including representatives from the City Council, Naval Base, the Football Club, local colleges and many more. We play a vital role in our city, and it’s important for us to share the positive impact that our students and staff have on our community. Their outstanding achievements deserve to be recognised.”

Award Winners

Claudia Bradshaw, Portsmouth Scholars

Claudia Bradshaw

Nominator’s summary: Claudia Bradshaw has done a fantastic job of setting up the Portsmouth Scholars Scheme. This sees University undergraduates tutor 90 (and growing) Portsmouth College A-level students 5 days a week in the College Study Centre. Claudia has coordinated the recruitment, training and day to day management of the undergraduates required and ensured excellent take up of the scheme at the College. On top of this she has now trained 45 first year A-level students to go back into their secondary schools and tutor Year 10 and 11 students. She is an excellent, innovative change maker who is encouraging students who might not otherwise think of doing so, to progress on to both college and university.

Creative XR Team, Faculty of Cultural and Creative Industries

(from l-r) Alex Counsell, Pippa Bostock, and Laura Doye

Nominator’s summary: Pippa Bostock, Alex Counsell and Laura Doye have worked tirelessly to champion the development and innovation of Creative XR (Motion Capture, Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities). This has been supported by over £100,000 of competitively won funding distributed by Digi-catapult and Arts Council England. ‘Fatherland’, a creative performance developed with Limbik Theatre, has gained further support from the National Theatre Studio and featured in the prestigious Venice Film Biennale. The team has brought the Faculty’s expertise to a range of external partners, including Worthing Museum, and the development of a fellowship programme with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Magic Leap. Their work showcases our expertise, brings creative value to our staff and students, and drives innovation forward in partnership with industry.

Eleanor Doyle, BA (Hons) History Student

Eleanor Doye

Nominator’s summary: Eleanor Doyle has been a highly active member of the History cohort, doing much to enhance the student experience. Eleanor has been a keen volunteer, working with community organisations to enhance people’s understanding of history. Eleanor is also academically outstanding and has done much to encourage her peers. She has helped to consolidate the success of the Students’ Union History Society, and since becoming its President has made a number of important innovations that have made it more inclusive. Most significantly, Eleanor has created greater links with educational and industry partners, and has been instrumental in organising a ‘Heritage, Arts and Culture Careers Fair’, held at the Mary Rose Museum for its third successful event.

Paul Gorczynski, Department of Sport and Exercise Science

Paul Gorczynski

Nominator’s summary: Paul’s work promotes better understanding of mental health in society. Over the past year, Paul has delivered public lectures on the mental health of students and academics at universities across the UK and Canada. His work was featured in The Conversation and Runners World and he presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. His article on mental health literacy in university students was selected as Highly Commended in the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards. In November 2018, he was recognised as one of the world’s leading authorities in this field, and invited to the International Olympic Committee headquarters to join an expert panel preparing a statement on improving the mental health of elite athletes.

Samantha Hill, Corporate Governance

Nominator’s summary: Sam Hill has made a sustained, significant contribution to the University’s success. Sam does things that make the University tick, that are often unseen, taken for granted, undervalued. She’s a well-known, liked and respected pillar of the University. Never settling for second best – she’s made a significant contribution to GDPR implementation, without compromising delivery of other work. She’s managed a 57% increase in student complaints in the last 5 years, absorbing the demands of a testing job, ensuring students get the experience they deserve, whilst protecting the University’s reputation. She ensures that the University meets its FOI and data protection duties and its obligations to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. Despite the sensitive nature of her work, she is always well-received by colleagues. She embodies the collegiate nature of the University, engaging with students, staff and external partners, sometimes in the most difficult situations, to offer timely and effective support. Her advice is sought on many topics.

Rebecca Hunter, BN (Hons) Nursing Student

Rebecca Hunter

Nominator’s summary: Rebecca has shown innovation by developing her writing skills and identifying the learning opportunities with being involved with a simulated mass casualty exercise known as SIMEX. This achievement has significant impact as Rebecca presented her experience at the Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare (ASPiH) an International simulation conference in November, and was subsequently invited to be the only student on the special interest ASPiH committee. Rebecca has fully embraced the opportunities to network, which has resulted in her ability to contribute to national and University research projects in simulation and work alongside clinicians from across the country as part of the ASPiH special interest committee. This recognition is a huge accolade for the University of Portsmouth and represents the effort to use technology to enhance learning and demonstrates future career opportunities for our students.

Rod Jeffcote and Hannah Morton, School of Creative Technologies and Students’ Union

Hannah Morton and Rod Jeffcote

Nominator’s summary: The Students’ Union won Lottery funding in July 2018 to run a weeklong, accredited, intensive course on Suicide Prevention Training for a small group of staff and student representatives who would, in turn, train Senior Tutors from all departments. Rod Jeffcote and Hannah Morton completed the training and they have since worked together to run several Suicide Prevent training sessions for residential staff in halls, senior tutors, departmental staff and students. The training is not a counselling course but provides strategies to respond in a proactive and positive way if confronted by a student who is considering self-harm. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, thanks to Rod and Hannah.

Kevin Pogorzelski, Research and Innovation Services

Kevin Pogorzelski

Nominator’s summary: Since the University invested in Pure as our Research Information Management System in 2014, Kevin has been a single point of excellence in embedding this vital corporate system. It is central to our REF 2021 preparations, it provides the public face of our research and innovation, it facilitates the management of research bids and now it will feed into the new online PDR system. Kevin has gone above and beyond to ensure its success, taking responsibility of managing the system, and delivering training for colleagues across the institution, with drop-in sessions, video guides, and personalised support. Kevin represents the University on the national Pure User Group, comprising over 70 Higher Education Institutions. Kevin is without a doubt a ‘Pure’ genius!

Student Wellbeing Service and UoP Global, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

(from l-r) Denise Meyer, Pam Ringland, Naomi Kennett and Anna Vaernes

Nominator’s summary: Over the last two academic years, the Student Wellbeing Service has seen a more than 50% rise in the number of students seeking support, with an increasing proportion facing significant and complex mental health difficulties. The hugely committed multidisciplinary staff team, with the supporting administrator team, has worked proactively and collaboratively to ensure that this increase in demand has not led to significant increases in waiting times for students. On the contrary, the team has remained responsive and accessible, through continually adapting systems and processes and going the extra mile to ensure that students can get timely and appropriate support. The service has also worked hand-in-hand with UoP Global to support international students in a connected collaborative way demonstrating a high level of professionalism and compassion across both services.

Welcome Ambassadors Project, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

(from l-r) Sarah Worley, Denise Meyer, Jordan Rydlewski and Hassan Raza

Nominator’s summary: The Welcome Ambassador Project is about every new student feeling welcome and connected, instilling a sense of belonging throughout the crucial first few weeks of teaching. This year over 80 Student Welcome Ambassadors were recruited and trained by the Wellbeing Team to support hundreds of first year students who signed up to be part of a welcome group. The training was extensive, covering leadership skills, active bystander training, issues of consent, active listening and confidentiality, and providing career-enhancing activities. Engagement with the Students’ Union, University staff and external partners such as PARCS (Portsmouth Area Rape Crisis Service) was pivotal to its success. The project has been commended by the Government’s Department for Education as a beacon of good practice and innovation.

Hayley Wheeler, UoP Global

Hayley Wheeler

Nominator’s summary: Hayley is one in a million, unifying staff, students and the community through shared charity events and initiatives. It started with her ‘reverse advent calendar’ challenge, working with departments across the University to collect food and essential items for the homeless charity The Life House. Hayley has also been involved in Its Pants on the Streets, collecting underwear for the homeless, raising money for Children in Need, and arranged several volunteering opportunities for UoP Global staff and international student ambassadors to serve dinner at the Life House soup kitchen in Southsea. Hayley’s passion and enthusiasm have brought staff together, engaged students with charity work and made a huge contribution to the local community.

Kirsten Williams, Faculty of Technology

Kirsten Williams

Nominator’s summary: Through her commitment and innovative approach, Kirsten enables students to achieve their full potential in her role as a Learning Support Tutor. Kirsten’s ingenuity is exemplified in her proactive approach to student engagement by taking Learning Support to students through her use of social media, for example she encourages students to vote on Facebook polls to decide upcoming topics and also tune into Live Q&As for additional support. Kirsten’s work reaches further into the community in providing tutor support services to local college students from low income families. Kirsten’s impact on these students is as valuable as it is on our own. Her quality contributions should be recognised as they provide valuable insight for prospective students into what life at the University of Portsmouth is like.


Commendation recipients

  • Mohammad Alatoum a first year BSc (Hons) Software Engineering Student who has been a role-model to fellow students in terms of entrepreneurship;
  • Karl Bell for his work on a number of projects including Darkfest and Supernatural Cities, making academic research accessible, available and enjoyable for everyone in this city;
  • Thomas Best and Oliver Whitehead for their studentship and engagement with cross-disciplinary collaboration, for producing photography for students and staff on the Fashion and Textile Design course;
  • Glenn Harris and Kate Daniell, the Press and Media Team, for the campaign they ran for Portsmouth’s Professor John McGeehan and colleagues in Oxford, the US, Canada and Brazil, and the accidentally-engineered enzyme which can eat PETase plastic, resulting in 892 articles with 141 million views;
  • Marina Harris for her work developing a wellbeing workshop which is delivered to all first year dental care professional students during induction, and which stems from her doctoral research into stress and psychological wellbeing in undergraduate education;
  • Eliana Lee-Gibbons and the CCI Creative Careers Team for developing and delivering the CCI Employability Day in response to student feedback which called for greater interaction opportunities with creative industries employers;
  • Daniel McCabe for his collaboration with international youth democratic movement, Bite the Ballot, and London-based creative agency, Big Mouth Gets, on a live design brief for our Graphic Design students to create work that motivates 16-24 year olds to become engaged, socially-conscious citizens;
  • Becky Miles and the Business Services and Research Office for developing and hosting the first cross-Faculty and institution-wide business event University 2 Business and the follow-up Big Networking Night event;
  • Bernie Saunders and the BA (Hons) Journalism Course Team for the creative and dynamic environment created by the course team which resulted in them topping the National Council for the Training of Journalists 2018 League Table for accredited Higher Education Undergraduate courses in 2018;
  • Kelly Sloan-Murphy and the University of Portsmouth Law Society for the teamwork, resourcefulness, and creativity of the committee which has undergone a restructure and focused its efforts this year on three key themes to support its student members.

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