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    Advent Day 21: A Christmas message from our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Sloan

    21 December 2022



    As we come to the end of this year, and our Advent Calendar, I would like to thank everyone for the contributions you have made to the University and the Students’ Union throughout 2022.

    Our achievements come from the collective efforts of our students, our academic and professional services colleagues, our committed Board, Development Trust and committee members, our alumni, our employer partners and our community stakeholders. This University could not deliver what it does without each and every one of these groups.  I am grateful for what you do, individually and collectively. 

    As we move into 2023, the University will launch its next Strategic Plan. Our values as a community are front and centre in this Plan. We had some group discussions on this earlier in the year and it became evident that there are three dimensions to what drives the Harper Community: Our Heads, Our Hands, and Our Hearts.

    With our heads we learn and teach new knowledge and develop skills. We research and make discoveries, we build new communities of knowledge.

    With our hands we apply those skills and knowledge, for the betterment of employers, the community and society at large.

    With our hearts, we demonstrate that we care for what we do and how we do it. 

    We may not get this right all the time, and we are certainly far from perfect.  We are authentic, we are willing to learn when things do not go as we planned, we take risks, but we strive to make a positive difference. I look forward to working with the Board and colleagues to finalise our plan early in the New Year, and then sharing it with our community later in the Spring.

    It would be difficult to list off every achievement of this year.  I suggest you read back through the Advent Calendar and follow the links.

    You should be proud and impressed.  I know I am.

    The year culminated in the community completing numerous charitable events. The SU Christmas smile, the Christmas Jumper Appeal for Save the Children, the Housekeeping Team campaign for Cancer Research UK are but three.  There were many others.

    I also got to meet students and taste the products created for their Christmas Sourdough exhibition.

    Such talent, skills and tastes in abundance. 

    As we go into this Christmas period, I would ask you keep a number of people in mind.

    Firstly, those in our community, both at the University and across the country, who will continue to work throughout this period.

    Locally this includes our Future Farm team, Security, Catering, Student Services and those on standby to support our community. There will be many others, including students and colleagues working on farms and in businesses elsewhere.  Thank you for doing what it takes to keep things going.

    Secondly, those for whom Christmas might bring memories of sadness, loss, or loneliness.  This can be made all the more challenging when we see so many happy faces around us.  I know our support will be of comfort to them.

    Finally, for those who are facing significant cost of living pressures at this time.

    I know we all hope that they can access the support to make Christmas comfortable and enjoyable, and thank you for those who are supporting others in practical ways.

    Let me end with a simple thank you to everyone. Universities might be fascinating places of personal and intellectual discovery and development, but they are nothing without the people that come together to make the community.

    I wish everyone peace and contentment over this Christmas and New Year holiday period.

    However you choose to mark it, I hope it enables you to go into the new year with a sense of optimism and renewal.


    Merry Christmas,





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