Seeking balance, loving change

November 2, 2007

Name: Anoush Ehteshami

Age: 47

Job: Head of school and professor of international relations, Durham University

Salary: Yes

Education: BA (Hons) in social sciences from Nottingham Trent; PhD in politics and international relations from Exeter University.

Working hours: Forty eight or so, give and take a few, plus reading PhD chapters at home just about every weekend.

What is your department like? My school, established in 2004, is a dynamic, vibrant and exciting hub of interdisciplinary activity, with some 22 academic staff (many of whom are below 40) bringing a wide range of specialisms and cultural backgrounds to the school. It is a highly cosmopolitan place, with seven different nationalities at staff level and some 48 at the student level.

What is your office like? I have a purpose-built office that enjoys all mod cons and wonderful views of trees and lawns around it, with excellent parking facilities. The whole building is a rather special place, built through a generous multimillion- pound donation.

What is your biggest challenge this year? With the research exercise assessment preparation now behind us, my biggest challenge will be to ensure that my school manages to put in place robust systems for meeting its net and full economic costs - to be in balance against cost and expenditure and to be in a position to generate a re-investable surplus.

How will you meet it? We have already begun poring over our costs to see which parts we have control over and which elements of our income we can increase. Our planning is very much focused on these issues. I am also looking at raising our overall income levels through more outreach and consultancy work, larger research grant applications, a larger undergraduate student body, a bigger proportion of international students at all levels of study and a review of our fee bands.

What was the worst moment of your university career? When I was blamed by colleagues, who should have known better, for leading structural changes.

Do you socialise with people at work? I do, but not as much as I would like. People really are far too busy.

What is the best excuse you have heard for bad behaviour? "He started it."

Who are the most difficult people you deal with? The ones who think change is a luxury we can do without.

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