The 2021 AUA Annual Awards were presented as part of the AUA 2021 Annual Conference & Exhibition. Looking back a few months on from the awards, we wanted to further recognise the achievements of our Member and Network of the year. Here, we look into their nominations in a bit more detail, along with hearing from them what it means to be awarded.

Member of the year – Emma Flight

Why Emma was nominated

Emma is as an excellent representative who truly embodies the AUA’s ideals. Emma is credited with raising the importance of professional body membership and increasing the number of members at the University of Roehampton. She has also raised the profile of the AUA amongst senior leaders and colleagues at Roehampton.

Emma has engaged and supported her team to take part in AUA development activities. This includes starting AUA working groups which hold regular meetings, and she has conducted sessions for Roehampton staff. In addition, she regularly uses her networks to open up possibilities for her team.

Emma has worked tirelessly to promote the AUA’s CPD framework, embedding the AUA’s professional behaviours into annual appraisal activates. Many of Emma’s innovations at Roehampton are based around the framework. These innovations include an in-house professional development programme based on the AUA CPD framework, which has benefited staff through the pandemic.

What the panel said

The panel acknowledged evidence of Emma’s initiative and commitment to embedding AUA competencies and values institutionally.

She has engaged a wide-range of staff in AUA activity, along with instigating an AUA working group and a professional development programme. The panel were impressed by how these two initiatives incorporated and embedded the AUA professional behaviours. In addition, work was done in regards to growing branch membership.

“I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have been awarded the AUA Member of the Year 2021. It is particularly special when all colleagues across the HE sector have been working so hard to meet the challenges of the pandemic over the past year and have achieved the impossible.

I have been an AUA member for a long time and have benefitted professionally and personally from my membership. As AUA advocate for the University of Roehampton I am committed to raising the profile of professional services staff and working to establish more development opportunities across my institution. I want to thank my amazing Academic Services team at Roehampton who inspire me every day.”

Emma Flight

Network of the year – North Wales and North West

“It was truly a surprise and a genuine pleasure to win the award. The other nominees had done such fantastic work that any one of us could have been selected to win. In such a difficult year, it was great to be part of the regional collaboration project, and to see connections being developed as part of that.”

Kate Moss – Network Coordinator
Why North Wales and North West were nominated

The network showed persistence in the face of adversity to continue to deliver the highly successful regional annual conference, this time online. The conference used the theme ‘20:20 Vision – Lessons for 2021 and beyond.’ The considerate structure (free, completely online, and with the chance to attend all sessions) demonstrates the network’s commitment to accessibility and providing opportunities to members.

The network also organised and launched their Regional Accreditation Peer-Learning Groups. The groups really advocate for members’ career growth and development. They have also brought people together, forwarding multiple network aims. These also demonstrate the enthusiasm of regional members to engage and support each other.

Regional advocates across region to continue to collaborate and provide networking opportunities for their members within their institutions and for the region in new formats.

What the panel said

The panel was impressed by the network’s creative development of their Regional Accreditation Peer-Learning Groups. They described the groups as an interesting initiative which provide the network with new development opportunities. Moving the annual regional conference online, along with regular contact and support of regional members, was also praised.

Lifetime achievement award – Dr Bruce Nelson

Why Bruce was nominated

Bruce has been a member of the AUA for over 20 years. During that time he has given a significant amount of his time and expertise to the AUA including as a member of the Executive Committee 2003-11, Vice-chair and Chair-elect 2005-06, Chair for 2006-08, and Treasurer 2010-11.

His impact in Higher Education is extensive, acting as a member of the AUT Committee, non-executive board member for the Student Awards Agency Scotland and Member of the Court of the University of the Highlands and Islands. Along with taking part in international reviews and consultancy projects.

Bruce has had a highly successful career in the University of Edinburgh. Starting as and Administrative Assistant in Registry & Planning in 1984, he eventually became Academic Registrar and Deputy Secretary before progressing to his current role of College Registrar in Science and Engineering.

His impact during this time has been on more than this just his own career though. As an advocate of the AUA and firm believer in taking control of your own career, Bruce has been dedicated in nurturing and supporting staff and sharing his own journey and experience. Many colleagues are thankful to Bruce for his encouragement and belief that has and continues to allow them to grow their own careers in higher education. 

Bruce will retire at the end of May 2021 and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him with this award for all that he has done during his career. 

Claire Vallance – University of Edinburgh

“It was a complete but pleasant surprise to hear that I had been given this award.  Recognition is always nice, but much more so when it comes from your peers and comes out of the blue! It was particularly nice to complete an Edinburgh ‘double’ with Jean Grier (Lifetime Contribution Award 2018) who joined the University at the same time as me and who, like me, spent her entire career in Edinburgh.  
AUA has been a huge part of my professional life since being told by a senior colleague on day one that joining CUA (as it then was) was an absolute must.  I was able to learn an enormous amount from attending the annual conference and specialist events, from the networking opportunities these enabled, and from the Association’s publications.  It was nice in the second part of my career to be able to put something back through membership of the Executive Committee, and it was a great honour to be elected chair.  But AUA has also been a great source of professional friendships.
Looking back on my career I’ve witnessed an enormous amount of change.  But a constant has been the professionalism of administrative and other professional services colleagues, and also their dedication to providing very high quality services to students and to staff.  AUA has had huge impact on these and I’m sure will continue to do so through its 60th birthday and well beyond.”

Dr Bruce Nelson