2012 – 2013:
ONE YEAR SINCE RETIRING FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM: ONE YEAR SINCE JOINING BIRKBECK UNIVERSITY O F LONDON
It is just over one year since I retired from the University of Nottingham having stood down as Founding Director of the Institute of Work, Health & Organisations. It is exactly one year since I joined Birkbeck University of London.
Leaving Nottingham: After 41 years service at Nottingham, I felt that retiring from that institution at that particular time was the right thing to do. The University had begun to change following the retirement of Sir Colin Campbell and the new strategy that was being promised would not have sat easily with my beliefs about the nature and management of higher education. Whatever, change can be invigorating and, as I tried to make clear in my Valedictory Lecture, I felt that “there was life in the old dog yet”. Joining Birkbeck University of London and remaining a core member of the METIS Collaboration have given me excellent stages on which to play out the next stage of my career: my Third Age. I have no regrets.
The Institute: The Institute, once respected worldwide, will soon be gone ~ disappearing in the re-organisation of the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences. Most of its staff, including its occupational psychologists, will transfer into the new Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine. A few will go elsewhere. Apparently, the Centre for Family & Forensic Psychology and the Centre for Organisational Development & Health (COHD) will continue as groups within the Department of Psychiatry. COHD, as the much truncated successor to the Institute in occupational health psychology, will continue to be designated a WHO Collaborating Centre in Occupational Health.
Birkbeck University of London: My task at Birkbeck was to establish a new research institute in the School of Business, Economics & Informatics.: the Centre for Sustainable Working Life (CSWL). This we have done. CSWL was approved by the College’s Research Committee in May 2013 and by the College’s Academic Board at the beginning of June. It was formally launched on 25th June during Birkbeck Business Week 2013. It has seven members of academic, research and associated staff at its core including three Chairs. The initial Programme of Work has been defined and is well in-hand with new research funds secured to support it. All of this has been made possible through a new club of collaborating enterprises and by the transfer of support by the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work (Bilbao) from the Institute at Nottingham to CSWL. The METIS Collaboration has played a particularly important role in defining and developing CSWL’s Programme of Work. Phase I has been completed within a year and Phase II is being planned in detail.
Personal Progress: Although personally this is no longer important for my career, I was pleased to be judged by Birkbeck to be ‘returnable’ in the current REF. In the current period, I have published or are in the process of publishing, 18 papers in international peer-reviewed journals. I believe that 6 (arguably 8) of them could be 3 star publications. I have also published a similar number of chapters, research reports and Guidance Notes. In terms of research funding, during the REF period, I secured (as PI or Co-I), more than £ 1 million in research funds with in excess of £ 2 million to be decided later this year. Since joining Birkbeck, I have had 3 succesful PhD students, have another who has submitted and a further 2 students who are in the final stages of writing up. All carry over from my final days at Nottingham and all are jointly supervised.
The Best Bits: At beginning of the REF period (2008), I was given a special award by the US Institute of Occupational Health (NIOSH), the American Psychological Association and the US Society for Occupational Health Psychology for a distinguished contribution to occupational health psychology and the health and safety of working people. Next year, I believe that I am to be give an Honorary Fellowship by the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology. Over the last two years in particular, the METIS Collaboration has come into its own and now involves three significant university-based research units, including CSWL, two major cancer charities and three large public sector enterprises. It has secured first research funding and has a major funding application on the table. I am totally committed to its work in cancer survivorship. Finally, over the last year, I have made new friends and worked with old friends while building the platform for CSWL and have enjoyed those experiences. Small as Birkbeck is, it retains some of the best features of the old way of university life without compromising its future. It is a pleasure to be there!