Reflections 2017: Rev Canon Professor Peter Neil – A rewarding year

The year for me started in India and ended in Thailand and a lot has happened in the intervening months.

In January I was in Chennai in South East India at a conference of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC) of which Bishop Grosseteste University is a member.

It was great meeting with colleagues from across the world all discussing the challenges of higher education. I have just returned from Thailand where I was signing a memorandum of understanding with a university in Bangkok which is interested in working with us on international language education.

It has been another very significant and rewarding year at Bishop Grosseteste University. Two major estates projects I discussed in my column for the Lincolnite last year have come to pass; the extension of Constance Stewart Hall is complete as can be seen from the Longdales Road roundabout and we have opened our Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) at the heart of our campus. Both buildings are visually stunning and represent a skillful blend between old and new.

Another highlight for the University was the national award of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Gold which was a great acknowledgement of the high quality teaching and learning which take place at BGU and which equip our students for society and the workplace; it was a remarkable achievement.

Part of the privilege for me in Lincoln is having two existences; one as vice-chancellor of BGU but the other as a canon of Lincoln Cathedral. This year these two roles were brought together in a rather unusual way when I was invited to be present in the altar party of the wedding of one of our students Tom Stockwell, who married Victoria in June in the Cathedral.

This was also a significant year of change for me personally – two long-standing members of staff who worked very closely with me since my arrival here left to enjoy life after retirement; Helen Parkinson who had been Personal Assistant to several principals of the former college and vice-chancellors of the university and Vonnie Dow who was their housekeeper for years. Their departure just reinforced how quickly time moves on and changes occur. It also emphasised the fact that this institution has seen people come and go; all have left their mark but the institution is greater than individuals.

Not completely unrelated to BGU one of my lasting memories of the year will be The Imps’ remarkable achievements and the way in which it brought residents of the city together. Progressing to the FA Cup quarter-final final – the first time a non-league club had reached the last eight since 1914 and to return to the Football League for the first time in six years really showed what can be achieved with seemingly endless amounts of enthusiasm and work ethic. As sponsors of the home shirts we were also delighted to host the FA cup albeit for a short time on campus.

There is of course no standing still and 2018 will continue the pace of change; we are hoping to open a new research centre in upper Lincoln and to enhance our work with businesses and the voluntary sector at various levels. I am very much looking forward to my 5th year in Lincoln. I said two years ago that I wanted to get out more; I regret to say I have still not managed to get as far as Grimsby but then again I have everything I want here in upper Lincoln. My New Year’s resolution is to get a better work-life balance which is not as easy as it sounds because I just love my job and my work is in many ways my life.