It is almost 26 years ago that I sat in a lecture theatre in the University’s Medical School with about 70 other new students and we were welcomed to the then Department of Information Studies by the Head of Department, Professor Tom Wilson. Tom spoke about library and information science and how the courses we were embarking upon would be the start of our careers in the information profession. I never imagined, sitting there listening to Tom that, over a quarter of a century later, my career would lead to my becoming Head of the Information School and it feels strange that I will, in a couple of weeks time, be standing up in front of a new cohort of students to welcome them to Sheffield and the School.
Although I did not realize it at the time, my journey to becoming Head of School really started that day in September 1990. Following my MSc, I studied for my PhD, under the supervision of Peter Willett. I then worked, first as Research Fellow, then as Lecturer, in Information Science in the Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing. I returned to the Department in 2000 to set up the MSc in Health Informatics. I have been here ever since, although I never really felt I had left. During that time, there have been five Heads of Departments: Micheline Beaulieu, Peter Willett, Sheila Corrall, Phil Levy and, most recently, Val Gillet. They all contributed a great amount to the Department in their time as Head and I feel very humble and privileged to be following in their footsteps.
I would like to give my deepest thanks to Val, for all her hard work as Head of School over the last four years; she has done a fantastic job leading the School. During that time, the School has achieved a great deal under Val’s leadership and we now stand in a very good position. Our student numbers have grown and the research income that has been generated through new projects has increased substantially. Val has overseen the School’s preparations for REF2014, in which we achieved a score of 100% and were ranked top for our research environment. Two new, and highly successful, programmes, the MSc in Data Science and the MA in Library and Information Services Management, have been introduced. There have been changes to staff and, under Val’s leadership, the School has recruited excellent staff to the professional services team and academic staff. These are just a few highlights from Val’s time as Head. She has been a great leader we all owe Val a great deal of thanks for her hard work. I know Val will be a very tough act for me to follow.
Knowing Val as I do, I am sure that she would be the first to say the School’s achievements have only been possible through your support, as colleagues, across the School. Val has been a great leader and she has led a team of great people: I would like to thank you all staff for the work and support you give the School. We are a team and we all work together. Val has led us through challenging times and I know that there will be challenges ahead for us in the next few years. I also know that, with your support and your work, the School is in a strong position to face these challenges. I see the role of Head of School as leading it, and also serving it; I look forward to working with you all and to building on the School’s achievements.