CANTA'S COVID-19 Series Day 15

Interview with the Vice-Chancellor

  • What does your daily routine under isolation look like?

Not too much different to when I am in the UC office as I am trying to adhere to a daily schedule. So I begin at my desk around 8 am and then have my typical list of meetings – now mostly via Zoom. I try to have a short lunch break each day and a walk at the end of my working day which is about 6 pm.

  • How have you been spending your weekends under isolation?

Watching more movies than ever before and reading fiction. I have been watching New Zealand movies mostly and am currently reading the NZ classic, ‘Plumb’ by Maurice Gee. Since I have been here little more than a year, I decided that I would use this time to learn the deeper aspects of NZ culture.

  • What advice do you have for how to be productive and work/study during isolation?

Stick to a daily schedule. Build in short breaks and do some exercise outdoors. The sun and air have a positive effect on health and well-being. I like walking and jogging – and yes I am keeping it local and 2m apart!

  • What have you learnt from this time under lock down?

Technology is a great enabler and social connection is a deep human need.  Even those of us who are introverts have a need for some human connection. 

  • Who is in your bubble?

My partner of over 30 years so we have years of experience of living in the same bubble.

  • Are there any new habits/actions you are going to take with you once lock down is over?

Travel and drive less as I have now become accustomed to remote meetings.

  • How have you been running a university from home?

I work with a great team of people and we have been able to keep connected and working remotely.  I have tried to ensure I schedule regular catch-ups with everyone including the UCSA President, Tori, so I get a sense of how we are coping and where we can improve.

  • What are the difficulties of running a university from home via the internet?

I miss feeling the daily pulse of campus life – students walking hurriedly between lectures, meeting and greeting people as I walk around the campus, and going to group pilates at the Rec Centre.

  • How many meetings do you have a day?

About 6 on average

  • How are the plans for running university online going?

Since the beginning of the lockdown we have been preparing for an online start to Term 2 on 20 April.  Deputy Vice-Chancellor Catherine Moran and Dean Julie Mackey have been working closely with our academics to ensure we continue to offer quality education in our online delivery. I have been very gratified at how much effort all our academics are making to ensure we are well prepared.

We have also had two student surveys to understand better the needs of our students. In response to needs voiced in the survey, our IT team have been assisting students with devices and access to connectivity. Our pastoral care team have been doing phone checks to support students to stay motivated and focussed.

  • Why did UC decide to put the rest of the semester online?

We had one day of online and on that same day the level 4 lockdown was announced.  The Saturday before the lockdown the PM announced that the risk level was rising – at this time it was clear we were heading for level 4.  On the Friday before the UCSA Exec had already engaged with students and informed me that most students would prefer a decisive move to online instead of the uncertainty at that time.

  • What have you been doing to take care of you during this time?

Trying to eat healthily, exercise and get enough sunshine.