Healthy eating, unhealthy decor

March 9, 2007

Name : Heather Hartwell. Age: 50. Job: Senior lecturer with responsibility for nutrition and food safety in the School of Services and Hospitality Management, Bournemouth University.

Salary : About £38,000, but I am paid extra for generating income: I teach food safety to nurses at the Institute of Health and Community Studies, Dorset.

Experience/education : I graduated as a nutritionist from Queen Elizabeth College, London. Then I organised scientific conferences as a technical adviser all over the world for three years. Then I did a PGCE, became a home economics school teacher and worked in a further education college.

Bournemouth asked me to write and teach a work book for first-year undergraduates in food studies. I did a PhD in hospital food services.

Working hours and conditions : 8.30am to 5.30pm in term time. When I do research - such as evaluating whether prisoners eat healthily - I travel a lot.

Number of students you teach : I teach about 150 undergraduates and 50 postgraduates on our MA course, and I supervise two PhDs.

Biggest challenge this year : I have been researching support for students, particularly non-traditional ones, as a learning and teaching fellow. I have been writing a handbook that shows staff how to identify points of crisis. I have also become deputy editor of the Royal Society of Health's journal and chief external examiner for food and safety qualifications for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Worst moment in university life : I ran an intermediate food hygiene exam for first-years that they should have passed easily, and a quarter failed.

It was a terrible reflection on me as the tutor.

What is your office like? I'm so messy, and it has a brown stained carpet.

They are throwing me out at Easter to decorate.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with and how do you cope with them? There are some challenging individuals, but not necessarily within this school. I try to delegate face-to-face contact!

Best excuse for bad behaviour : One student was away for three weeks with "third-degree burns" on his face but was perfectly all right when I saw him. Another chap said he couldn't do a presentation because he had a new lap-dancing girlfriend so he was "busy at night".

Do you interact with other parts of the university? The teaching fellows interact, share expertise and engage ideas across the university.

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