Late nights, lattes and fast bananas

July 14, 2006

Name : Stewart Ross

Age : 33

Job : Director of physical education/sport at Leeds University.

Salary : No footballers' salary levels, I'm afraid.

Education/ background : I did history and philosophy at Reading University and was an elected sports sabbatical officer after graduation. This inspired me to move into higher education sport: I worked for Royal Holloway and London South Bank universities before Leeds, taking sports qualifications along the way.

Working hours : I arrive about 7.30am and leave late, along with many colleagues, much to the annoyance of my wife.

Number of students you teach/staff you manage : My responsibility is to the whole university community, 33,500 students and 7,500 staff. Some 12,000 students pay to join our sports facilities, and we employ about 125 staff.

Biggest challenge this year : Ensuring sport and physical activity play an active role in the new strategy the university has been formulating. We have been trying to answer the question: how important is sport to an institution such as Leeds?

How you solved it : With partners in our area of work, we have held more workshops, awaydays and development sessions than you would think possible! I think we have delivered a convincing response: we can make a real contribution in personal development, health and wellbeing, community engagement, as well as offering students and staff opportunities to fulfil their sporting potential.

Worst moment : Being overtaken by a student dressed as a banana in the recent Great Student Run held in Leeds.

What your work space is like : My new office has been called a goldfish bowl: students can peer in as they walk past.

What university facilities do you use? I'm a sucker for a latte, so I often pop into the student union. I use the sports facilities, but not as much as I should - a familiar story.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with? I get frustrated by external sports/ health organisations that do not understand what our sector can contribute to the health and sporting success of the nation. I'm working with colleagues in other universities to bang on the door of the Government and Sport England to change this.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? The union, student counselling for exercise referral, city and regional office for widening participation, academic teams on supporting our elite athletes.

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