University Challenge?

Is our professional identity affected when working with academic colleagues?

Joanne Caldwell | CDT Manager | University of Salford

How many times can you say “I am just an administrator” when asked what you do at the university you work at? It is this question amongst others that promoted my research into how we as professional services/university administrators (delete as appropriate) interact with our academic colleagues and what affect this has on our professional identities.

I started this work as I often felt like I was seen by my academic colleagues as the David Walliams character in Little Britain whose constant reply is “Computer says No”. As a member of professional services trying to balance academic requirements, academic regulations and management requests, it was at best a juggling act and at worse, all out warfare. I assumed I couldn’t be the only one whose professional identity was affected by these interactions and it made me wonder how both academics and professional services felt about each other’s roles within the institution. Given that I clearly didn’t have enough going on in my life, I decided to enrol on a five year part time doctorate programme to find out!

Being more than halfway into my programme, I wanted to bring my research to the conference to both share it with others and also have a bit of fun with our own presumptions and ideas about the academic/professional services relationship. Part of my session involves a “who said what” game where I ask the room to allocate statements to academics or administrators. I tried this out at the North West and Wales conference and the results were quite interesting and I am assuming the participants had fun judging by the laughter coming from the tables.

205: University Challenge? is a working session at the AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020. In these mini blogs, our session speakers talk about the journey that lead to this point. Read the full Conference programme here.

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