Winning the AUA lifetime achievement award…


Jean Grier FAUA | Investigations Manager and Research and Projects Officer for the Vice Principals | The University of Edinburgh | Winner of The AUA Lifetime Achievement Award 2018

Winning The AUA Lifetime Achievement Award…

…meant a huge amount to me. I was introduced to one of AUA’s ‘parents’, CUA, shortly after taking up my first university post in 1983. My first conference (Liverpool, 1984) was an eye-opener – having previously worked in a small quango, I was excited to see the range of roles covered by the generic term ‘university administrators’. In my early years in CUA I was definitely ‘taking’ rather than ‘giving’, attending several workshops, going to conference, and reading every Good Practice Guide as it arrived. It helped that the then University Secretary had been a founder member of MUAAS, AUA’s ‘grandparent’, and strongly encouraged staff to take part in CUA activities locally and nationally.

By the time CUA and APA came together to form AUA, I was giving rather than just taking – presenting conference sessions each year, sitting on committees, serving on the Executive, and writing Good Practice Guides. I have always found these activities rewarding in themselves – not least because conferences and committee meetings were generally held on a campus somewhere around the country, and I built up a much better understanding of the sector as a whole by visiting so many different institutions (and sleeping in so many halls of residence!).

When we are all so busy, it is tempting to retreat to one’s own desk, shut the door, and just focus on the day job, but I believe that keeping that broader perspective is vital and that AUA is ideally placed to enable that. Making connections through committees, conferences and workshops expands the pool of people to whom we can turn for a bit of advice. This has been formalised more recently in things like the various ‘Forum’ mailing lists, and I have often been impressed with the speed, generosity and quality of the responses which come to colleagues through Forum.

When AUA launched the Fellowship category in 2005, I applied (with some diffidence) and was proud to become one of the first Fellows. I would never have put myself forward for the Lifetime Achievement Award when there are so many other colleagues who have contributed so much. I was really touched, though, when a colleague sent me a link to the call for nominations with the simple message ‘I saw this and thought of you’. I thought no more of it, but some weeks later I received an email from the Chair of AUA asking if I would ring her. I was going for surgery next day, and so intended to say no to whatever the request was from AUA on this occasion – reflecting before I rang that this would probably be the first time I had turned down any request by AUA. It was therefore a complete surprise – of the best possible variety – to be asked whether I would accept the award. This was a request I didn’t need to turn down after all!

If you know someone who deserves a nomination, or you would like to nominate yourself for your own achievements, click here.

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