Feeling the buzz in a Leicester department on the move

Who got that job? Mark Banks opts for ‘change and challenge’ as the university’s new chair in media and communication. Plus the latest higher education jobs and appointments

February 27, 2014

“There’s quite a dynamic feel about Leicester; it’s a quite buzzy university,” said Mark Banks, who will take up a chair in media and communication at the University of Leicester at the beginning of March. “There’s a sense of expansion and the feeling that the department’s going places.”

Dr Banks pointed out, however, that these were just some of the myriad reasons he had for taking the position, and that he hadn’t “necessarily been looking for another job”.

“This one seemed to be particularly attractive because it was offering a whole range of possibilities,” he said.

“I’ve been at The Open University for seven years as a reader, so naturally from time to time, I’d thought about what I might want to do next and this came at the right time, really. I was looking for a change and a new challenge.”

Dr Banks said the way in which the job had been framed seemed to offer the challenge of “helping to build a new project” for the department. He noted that the fact that Leicester’s department of media and communications had made some “exciting” researcher appointments in recent years showed it was trying to build on its good name while at the same time “take it in different directions”.

He continued: “I think the biggest [reason] they were interested in me was my areas of research interest: the cultural industries, cultural and creative industries policy (particularly around working practices), identities, subjectivity – all those things that arise in the context of the cultural and creative industries.

“They’ve got a little bit of that going on there, but I think they were looking for someone to come and help develop those areas of expertise.”

From this, Dr Banks said he got the sense that the department was “trying to build a new identity and develop a new set of research interests”.

Along with taking advantage of the opportunity to carry out research, Dr Banks added, he was “keen to get back into doing some face-to-face teaching”.

“Of course the OU is all distance-led,” he said. “The idea of getting back into a seminar room and teaching real-life students was quite appealing after seven years of not doing it.”

He was, he said, looking to “bed in” to his new role in the short term as well as develop links with people in his department and the wider university.

Beyond the academic side to the job, Dr Banks added that he was looking forward to getting into the “developmental and managerial aspects” of improving the department.

Despite “continually bad press” for media practice, media training and media studies degrees, he said media and communications departments had got “much stronger and more high-profile in recent years”.

He added: “Universities are starting to recognise that media and communications is quite a weighty, significant set of approaches.

“These departments are strong and people in them are doing important work…If you look at the intellectual discipline of [the field] it’s serious intellectual work. It’s much more established than it once was, and that’s a good thing.”

john.elmes@tsleducation.com

Starring roles: jobs in arts and communication

Norwich University of the Arts
Norwich University of the Arts is seeking a dean of media.
Closing date for applications: 5 March 2014
View the full job description and apply for this role

Roskilde University
Roskilde University in Denmark is inviting applications for a number of associate professorships in performance design.
Closing date for applications: 14 March 2014
View the full job description and apply for this role

Lancaster University
Lancaster University’s Faculty of Science and Technology is looking to appoint a chair (computer networking) in computing and communications.
Closing date for applications: 14 April 2014
View the full job description and apply for this role

Appointments

An animal welfare specialist has joined the University of Lincoln. Lisa Collins has been made senior lecturer in the College of Science and programme leader for the BSc in bioveterinary science. Dr Collins previously worked at Queen’s University Belfast.

Sarah Jarman has been appointed director of development and alumni relations at the University of Exeter. She joins from the University of Southampton, where she held a similar post.

Jane Close Conoley has been appointed president of California State University, Long Beach. She is currently dean of the graduate school of education at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The University of Western Sydney has named Scott Holmes deputy vice-chancellor for research and development. Professor Holmes, a business management and health economics expert, spent 17 years at the University of Newcastle, where he held posts including pro vice-chancellor for research.

The University of Hull has given honorary degrees to three senior business figures. Hull alumni John Fallon, chief executive officer of Pearson, and Judith McKenna, executive vice-president of strategy and international development at Walmart, were honoured at the end of January along with Eddie O’Connor, the founder and chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power.

The Parthenon Group, a strategic adviser for business leaders, has made Matthew Robb a partner. Mr Robb has led Parthenon’s education work in London and recently authored a report by the Policy Exchange thinktank on performance-related pay.

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