Rain didn't stop play in Blackpool

March 30, 2007

Name: Adrian Bailey

Age: 45

Job: Head of the School of Geography and professor of migration studies, Leeds University.

Education/ background: I've been a geographer from the get-go, and spent three years in early 1980s Bristol before working, getting married and having children in the US. I moved to Leeds in 1999.

Working hours: As head of school, I am always on call, but colleagues are willing to muck in and cover for me, so I get occasional time off for research good behaviour.

Number of students you teach/staff you manage: The school is one of the largest geography departments around, and is home to about 800 students and 75 staff, although an increasing share are virtual.

Biggest challenge/bugbear: We hired six new staff members last year, so finding good-quality work space is an ongoing challenge.

How you solved it: After much soul-searching and debate, we did something that is probably sacrilegious: we closed and converted our map library to staff offices.

Worst moment: Deeply worrying was the day (shortly after I'd started as head) when the whole school went to Blackpool for its annual staff trip; this was early August, so naturally it rained - so hard that trains were cancelled and streets flooded. Four people turned up. But the sun came out after lunch and we had Blackpool to ourselves!

Do you socialise with people at the university? If I can bring my kids, sure. Last weekend, we went with 30 students and staff and planted 950 hazel, alder and willow trees.

Best excuses for bad behaviour: No single line stands out, but as someone interested in population issues, it still amazes me how so many grandparents have such a terrible time of it, and seem to die off around exam and paper deadlines - a real spike in funerals. Somebody should study this.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? You're asking a geographer: Do you like to get out? Well absolutely, not least because our campus seems to have become smaller and more friendly over the past few years, so in addition to more coffee shops popping up, there are new fora for heads to have a good old moan together, interdisciplinary centres to help you get inspired about topics such as teaching and entrepreneurship, lunchtime concerts - in fact, plenty of distractions.

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