University Executive Board minutes - 8 September 2020



8 September 2020


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair)

Professor J Derrick (JD), Ms Heidi Fraser-Krauss (HFK), Professor S Hartley (SH), Professor M J Hounslow (MJH), Ms J Jones, Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DNP), Mr R Sykes (RS), Professor C Watkins (CW)

In attendance:

Dr T Strike (TS), Mr I Wright (IW), Professor Vanessa Toulmin (VT) (item 1), Sarah Want (SW) (items 1 and 2)


Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Professor G Valentine (GV), Mary Vincent (MV)


Mr M Borland (MB)

  1. Public Engagement Activity

    • (Vanessa Toulmin and Sarah Want in attendance for this item)

    • UEB considered an update on the delivery of the Public Engagement and City Vibrancy activity, especially in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and on delivery plans for the year 2020/21. Attention was drawn to three areas (i) central government’s view of the economic development role of universities in the regions; (ii) A bespoke public engagement online platform which gave the University the ability to deliver high-quality public engagement activities online, to be used initially for Festival of the Mind and which can be adapted for other festivals and events at minimal cost; (iii) the impact of the pandemic on the cultural sector in Sheffield had been very significant.

    • During discussion it was confirmed that IT Services had been involved in the procurement process for the online platform. There was the potential to use the online platform for engagement with alumni and with potential applicants as part of open days. The online platform would also enable event content to be archived.

    • UEB:

      • (i) Noted delivery to date

      • (ii) Approved the scope of the work programme for 2020/21.

  2. Update on Regional Engagement

    • (Sarah Want in attendance for this item)

    • UEB considered an update which set out (i) that strong proactive engagement with the Sheffield City Region (and other UK regions) would be increasingly important and would require careful management to ensure it meets the University’s ambition for excellence and (ii) a series of ongoing activities to strengthen the University’s role in the Sheffield City Region. Attention was drawn to a full Regional Engagement work programme which would be brought to UEB on 29 September.

    • UEB noted the update.

  3. Coronavirus Update

    • General Update

      • The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had published a paper on the principles for managing SARS-CoV-2 transmission associated with higher education. The P&VC had recently met with sabbatical officers from the Students’ Union and updated UEB on the SU’s website communications aimed at new students.

      • ACTION

        • To bring to UEB’s attention any aspects of the SAGE paper that had implications for the University’s approach on the return to campus.

    • Update from Major Incident Team

      • It was reported that there had been two incidents on campus at the weekend and that the appropriate protocols had been followed. A meeting had taken place with Sheffield City Council regarding scenario planning and feedback from those who had participated was positive.

    • Update from Return to Campus Activity Group

      • It was reported that communications regarding the return to campus were being drafted and would shortly be sent to staff. It was agreed these communications should include a short reference to the SAGE paper referred to in 3.1.1. Guidance for HoDs had been updated to make clearer the actions to take in the event of a positive Covid diagnosis within their department. A broader campaign on the return to campus was scheduled to begin week commencing 7 September.

      • ACTION

        • (i) The Director of Human Resources to work with the Director of Corporate Communications & External Relations on communications.

        • (ii) A summative report on decisions taken and future plans regarding the return of students to campus would be provided to Senate and to Council.

        • (iii) If the forthcoming DfE guidance meant that UEB decisions were required then UEB would be ready to respond rapidly to the Return To Campus Teaching Group via email.

    • FVP Update

      • Equipment had been provided to the government earlier in the year and its absence was not currently believed to be having a detrimental impact on research or teaching. The Executive Director of Academic Services would contact Research Services regarding the return policy and report back to UEB.

  4. Round table

    • (a) USS:

      • The P&VC updated UEB on the Universities Superannuation Scheme and that the University would work to develop an institutional response to the Trustee of USS joint consultation with Universities UK on key aspects of the pension scheme’s 2020 valuation.

    • (b) Senate Task and Finish Group:

      • Semester Dates: CW provided an update on the work of the group and informed UEB that the next meeting of the group was scheduled for Friday 11 September. UEB was of the opinion that the work of the group would benefit from more extensive consultation, including greater consultation with students.

    • (c) Honours:

      • It was agreed that recommendations for the Queen’s Birthday Honours would be coordinated by the Executive Director of Corporate Services, with further thought to be given to how the University’s process could be more formalised in future years.

    • (d) Library:

      • RS updated on staffing arrangements in the Library and UEB thanked Anne Horn, who would be retiring from her role as Director of Library Services & University Librarian in mid-October, for her service.

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