A paperless office, what's that?

January 5, 2007

Name: Chris Willmott

Age: "Life begins", as the saying goes, in January...

Job: I teach biochemistry and bioethics (sometimes simultaneously) at Leicester University. I am the editor of Bioscience Education , a peer-reviewed e-journal from the Higher Education Academy. I am also involved in the development of ethics teaching with bioscientists nationally.

Salary: I was recently promoted to senior lecturer.

Education/training: I took an unusual route to my current role. Having completed a PhD on antibiotic resistance, I spent four years working for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship in a kind of itinerant chaplain role. Thinking I'd burnt my bridges to higher education, I did a PGCE and worked as a secondary school teacher for a couple of years, before being appointed to a teaching - mostly - post at Leicester.

Working hours and conditions: I always take Sundays off, but I tend to work silly hours during the rest of the week.

Number of students you teach: In any one academic year, I guess I teach about 400 undergraduates in total. I lecture to about 150 students at the large end, and then do smaller tutorial sessions. I also individually supervise project students.

My biggest challenge this year: As I write, surrounded by reams of A4 paper, I would have to say clearing my desk. I'm a terrible hoarder, and the concept of the paperless office has passed me by.

Worst moment in university life: A few years back, I was confronted in my office by someone who told me that people were trying to kill them. It was clear from their agitated state that the individual was delusional.

Thankfully, they received appropriate medication and were restored to health, but it was my first direct exposure to mental illness and was very scary.

Do you socialise with people at the university? There are a couple of lecturers who play for the same hockey team and several who go to the same church as me.

Who are the most difficult people you encounter and how do you deal with them? We're all human. I suspect that the boot is often on the other foot.

Do you interact much with other departments in the university? I use a lot of video clips in teaching and liaise frequently with our excellent audiovisual team.

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