Many friends but too much ironing

February 2, 2007

Name : Carolyn Roberts. Age: 52 outside, 23 inside. Job: Associate dean, faculty of education, humanities and sciences at Gloucestershire University, and co-director of our centre for excellence in teaching and learning, the Centre for Active Learning in Geography, Environment and Related Disciplines (CeAL).

Education and background : A physical geographer in origin, but with professional qualifications in water resources and a great interest in the pedagogy of higher education. I worked briefly at Exeter University, but have been in Gloucestershire for more years than I care to remember, latterly as head of a large school. For several years I worked part time in academia, running an environmental consultancy alongside.

Working hours : As with most academics today, excessive. Many colleagues are passionate about what we all do, and insomnia makes for interesting e-mail timings. This year I became national chair of the Institution of Environmental Sciences, so I'm pretty busy.

Number of students you teach : I teach classes of between12 and 50, but also individual dissertation students at bachelors, masters and doctoral level.

More distantly, but equally enjoyably, the CeAL team's work is influencing the learning of hundreds of students in this faculty and beyond.

Biggest challenge this year : Keeping up with the family's ironing.

Worst moment in university life : Best and worst moments often run closely together. Opening and reading the e-mail confirming our £5 million success in the Higher Education Funding Council for England's Cetl competition was one of the best moments; the waiting time beforehand one of the worst. My 2006 National Teaching Fellowship letter was a good moment, too.

What your office is like : Surrounded by pleasant colleagues, books, ancient scientific kit, family photos.

Do you socialise with people at the university? A long time in the same institution yields many friendships, but my husband and I also have friends in other universities, the local community and elsewhere. There's a big party later this month!

Who are the most difficult people you deal with andhow do you cope with them? I think I'm pretty "difficult" myself, keen to persuade others to share in interesting new enterprises and impatient for changes. I'm aware this can be infuriating.

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