Socket to them... and keep mum

March 17, 2006

Name: Patrick Bailey

Age: 46

Job: Professor of organic chemistry and faculty associate dean for teaching and learning at Manchester University.

Background: I took my BA and DPhil degrees in chemistry at Oxford University, and had planned to become a schoolteacher in "chemistry with outdoor pursuits". Instead, I took a lectureship at York University in 1983, moving to a professorial position at Heriot-Watt University in 1993, and then to Manchester in 2001.

Working hours: I like to start early (7.30ish) to clear some jobs undisturbed and, like most academics, end up continuing work until 6ish, and then carrying on at home until late.

Number of students/staff I work with: I've a light teaching load, but give lectures, supervise labs and workshops for about 400 students in total, and I have a ten-strong research group. In the faculty, I have some great colleagues who help me oversee all aspects of teaching and learning for about 6,000 undergraduates.

Biggest challenge: Trying to find time to achieve my major goals of winning a national teaching fellowship, publishing three key research papers, lodging a new patent on drug delivery and driving forward teaching innovation and quality in my faculty - while still doing things with my family and climbing E4s on gritstone.

How I solved it: I've given up sleeping. Not quite true, but I try to use every minute of the day, and I conk out as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Worst moment in university life: As a new lecturer at York, I tripped over an overhead projector cable and went headlong, pulling the socket out of the wall. I kept quiet when the head of department expressed his dismay at the vandalism to the refurbished lecture theatre.

What facilities do I use? Other than using research and eating facilities, I don't seem to have time to use the excellent leisure opportunities at Manchester, but I do try to get out walking, biking and climbing in the nearby Peak District whenever I can.

Who are the most difficult people to deal with? (i) People firing off e-mails without checking them for content and tone; (ii) People who overreact to e-mails that have clearly been sent without being checked for content and tone.

Best excuses for bad behaviour: I try to be sympathetic, but on the few occasions that I've really lost patience with someone, it's always turned out that the excuse was genuine.

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