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The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

By Paul Ayris, on 17 April 2020

Taking UCL forward

In TheWeek@UCL, UCL has described the crisis management structure it has put in place to plan for the coming months as we tackle the fallout caused by the coronavirus. UCL’s new decision-making structure is given here. It has adopted a 3-tier command structure of Gold-Silver-Bronze levels. Decisions are taken by the Provost and his senior managers at the Gold Level. At the Silver level, there are 2 workstreams which are looking at high-level issues concerning how UCL can function in the short-term (Aquamarine groups, which are looking at the period until September 2020) and Sapphire groups (which are looking at the situation from September onwards). These are supported by a number of Bronze Working Groups, which are currently in the process of being established.

How does the Library feed into this structure? Well, the Library has representation on a number of these committees and Working Groups. As of 20 April, this representation is as follows:

Paul Ayris

  • Aquamarine Silver 4 – Research. Chaired by Professor Alan Thompson (Dean of Brain Sciences)
  • Sapphire Silver 3E – Estates, Infrastructure and Place. Chaired by Paola Lettieri and Kevin Argent
  • Sapphire Silver 2 – Education. Chaired by Professor Piet Eechout (Dean of Laws)
  • Sapphire Bronze 3 – Education Infrastructure. Chaired by Professor Ivan Parkin (Dean of MAPS)
  • The Gold Integration Centre (GIC): Blue Team. The ‘Blue Team’, led by Fiona Ryland and Tom Rowson, has been created to ensure that developing plans are tested against a broad range of professional skills and experience. The ‘Red Team’ has been setup to provide additional tension and challenge, always considering other options and approaches.
    • The ‘Blue Team’ will not normally meet formally and/or regularly; instead it will be up to the chairs to engage when a particular piece of work would benefit from review or a professional view point

June Hedges

  • Aquamarine Silver 2 – Remote Teaching Term 3. Chaired by Professor Nora Colton (UCL Arena Centre) – Now stood down
  • Sapphire Bronze 2 – Education delivery. Chaired  by Norbert Pachler, Pro-Vice-Provost
  • Sapphire Bronze 1 – Education. Workstream: Teaching Resources. Chairs: Jo Stroud and Sam Smidt

Peter Dennison

  • Sapphire Bronze – Business Continuity Planning – Students

It is the work of these groupings at Silver and Bronze level which is fed up to UCL’s senior managers at Gold level and so helps shape UCL’s decisions for the future.

In shaping the Library’s contribution to the Gold-Silver-Bronze command structure, I have set up a series of committees to feed into this decision making process. I described these in detail in my previous blog post here, 

Essentially, the Library’s new committee structure for the duration of the crisis will consist of 3 layers. The Decisions level will consist of myself as Pro-Vice-Provost and Professor David Price as Vice-Provost (Research) & Chair of Library Committee. There are 3 committee groupings working to identify Recommendations to guide the Library through the current crisis. These are chaired by Ben Meunier and by Martin Moyle. Ben chairs the grouping looking at current covid-19 issues and Martin oversees arrangements for service delivery during the lockdown. I have also asked Martin to chair a series of ad-hoc deliberative groups to tackle specific questions which arise from the pan-UCL Gold-Silver-Bronze discussions. The Library’s 3 committee groupings can be supported by individual Working Groups, as required, to undertake detailed work.

In the coming weeks, both I and members of the Library’s committee and Working Group structure outlined above will be reaching out to members of staff whenever we need your advice and would benefit from the detailed knowledge which you have for the services you are responsible for/work in.

The present coronavirus crisis presents the whole of UCL with enormous challenges in the coming weeks. Of course, we will come through this and we will do that together, supporting each other, caring for each other’s well being and having the success of UCL as a world-leading university in our minds.

Stay well and safe and try to gain some rest over the weekend. I will write again as things develop to keep colleagues informed of how UCL plans to see us emerge safe and well from this crisis.

Paul Ayris


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