In many ways it’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since my last Christmas blog. So much has happened in 2021 – the campus has come alive again as students returned to campus and we all adapted to new, hybrid ways of working; we’ve Graduated both the Class of 2020 and 2021; and we’ve won a series of significant national awards. Yet once again, we are in uncertain times, waiting to hear whether a new variant of the virus will impose further demands on us.
But now is not the moment to speculate. Now is a moment for festive traditions and for reflection on we have achieved together over the last year.
And so, with apologies, here is (once again – but what’s Christmas without the comfort of routine?) a fairly obvious variation on an old favourite which simply reminds every one of the fabulous people who do such great things across the University.
On the first day of Christmas I will remember Hallam being named University of the Year for social mobility in recognition of our commitment to improving access to higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, our regional and national leadership in this area, and the support systems we have in place to help current students.
On the second day of Christmas I will remember our fantastic new Early Years Community Research Centre which opened its’ doors in April. This unique partnership between Sheffield Hallam’s social mobility programme South Yorkshire Futures, Save the Children UK, and Sheffield City Council aims to give local children the best start in life.
On the third day of Christmas I will remember being named a University of Sanctuary in recognition of our outstanding support for refugees and people seeking sanctuary across all areas of higher education.
On the fourth day of Christmas, I will remember being able to welcome prospective students and their families back to in-person open days, even in the snow! Alongside our innovative virtual open days, we have welcomed thousands to the University to showcase our unique offer to students.
On the fifth day of Christmas I will remember the progress made on our campus plan, with the (very near) completion of our fantastic new atrium and the approval of our ambitious new development on the stie of the recently demolished Science Park.
On the six day of Christmas I will remember Dr Sunita Toor winning the Asian Woman of Achievement Award for her outstanding work to improve access to justice for female victims of violence in India.
On the seventh day of Christmas I will remember the fabulous Bears of Sheffield and our role as headline sponsor and host to three of the sixty strong sleuth. Bringing together local communities, businesses, schools, and artists, the trail raised much-needed funds for a new Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
On the eighth day of Christmas I will remember the launch of our Civic University Agreement, outlining our commitments to improve the lives and livelihoods of people living in South Yorkshire
On the ninth day of Christmas I will remember the richness of our Inclusive Hallam Event Series, open to staff, students and the wider community of Sheffield. The series is aligned to the University’s Equality Objectives which outline our commitment to advancing equality of opportunity, experience and outcome, ensuring that all students and staff realise their full potential.
On the tenth day of Christmas I will remember being named Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the 2021 Times Higher Awards, in recognition of our sustained investment in embedding entrepreneurship and employability principles throughout the whole organisation, in our teaching, regional partnerships and research programmes.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, I will remember our 53 graduation ceremonies celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021. So much planning, thought and care went into the ceremonies and the feedback was universally positive – a community coming together to celebrate. Graduation was a triumph and highlight of the year for me.
On the twelfth day of Christmas I will remember signing up to the United Nations Race to Zero campaign as well as setting our own ambitious target to deliver net zero on direct emissions by 2030, and significantly reduce indirect emissions by 2038. This commitment sits within our comprehensive environmental plan, with a range of initiatives already underway, including active travel campaigns and the development of smarter, more energy efficient buildings.
And on every day of Christmas, I will remember the people, in every team, department, directorate, research centre and, indeed every corner of the University, who have made these things possible. It’s been a long, tough year with the roller-coaster of the pandemic – and we aren’t through it all yet. But the University has made huge progress despite the challenges, and everyone deserves a rewarding and relaxing break. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.