Bowled over by Duracell bunnies

March 31, 2006

Name : Philip Vickerman. Age: 37. Job: Centre leader for sport and dance studies, Liverpool John Moores University.

Salary : £44,000

Background : BSc (Hons), MEd, PhD. I trained in physical education and sports studies, and worked with adults with learning disabilities. I then worked as regional disability sports development officer before moving into higher education ten years ago.

Working hours : About 50 hours a week, but I often find myself in e-mail contact with students at weekends.

Number of students you teach/staff you manage : I teach 25 to 90 students on undergraduate and postgraduate physical education teacher training and sport development courses. I also supervise PhD students, and the faculty has started running professional doctorates. I manage about 20 staff.

Biggest challenge this year : The restructuring of my faculty of education, community and leisure; living up to being recognised as a National Teaching Fellow; and getting used to being a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

How you deal with it : By keeping an open mind, staying positive and consuming the odd bottle of good red wine.

Worst moment in university life : My PhD upgrading viva.

What is your office like? Out of the window I can see the River Mersey and on a clear day the distant Welsh mountains.

Which university facilities do you use? I should say the library and on-site gym. The reality is the student canteen.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Colleagues in learning development call my team "the Duracell bunnies" - they are very energetic and committed to teaching and learning. They are a great bunch, and we have the occasional meal out and game of tenpin bowling.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally and how do you cope? Students who e-mail essays at 3am in the morning, then, at 8.30am, ask if you have read their work. I tell them that I didn't get in from partying myself until 7am.

Best excuses for bad behaviour? "I wasn't sleeping; I was trying to pick up my contact lens without my hands; and I have issues - back off!"

Do you interact with other parts of the university? Yes, both in my National Teaching Fellow role and as a leader of a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

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