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An Update from Thomas Schmidt, Head of School

22 Jul 2021

SALC Academic newsletter, July 2021

A very warm welcome to all of you from your new Head of School! The summer is upon us, and I hope this newsletter will find you about to take a well-deserved break - shorter than one would have hoped for, certainly, but nevertheless to be enjoyed as best as possible after what is likely to have been one of the hardest (if not the hardest ever) year in our careers.

I have only been (back) here for a few weeks, but I have already gotten a sense of the tremendous dedication, the sense of teamwork, the resilience, and - in spite of everything - the good spirits of staff in SALC. I hope to continue to look after the School's fortunes as effectively as Alessandro has (and huge thanks to him for that!), by supporting and nurturing a fantastic group of colleagues in one of the strongest units of its type in the UK, if not the world.

As you know, the University is gradually returning on to campus, with more caution than the loosening of government restrictions would in theory allow; I strongly encourage you to observe the University recommendations on mask wearing and social distancing, especially in enclosed spaces. We anticipate at this point that on-campus activities will resume more fully from September onward, but the details of that will obviously depend on how the pandemic develops in the meantime. Some hybrid working, online teaching provision, and remote meetings will remain in place - with remaining details yet to be confirmed - hopefully striking the right balance between the legitimate desire to resume face-to-face activities while at the same time ensuring the safety of students and staff.

But there is more to university life than the pandemic, and we look ahead to a busy autumn. Reassuringly, application numbers to course in SALC have held up well, indeed improved in a number of areas, especially postgraduate and international. Given the challenges the sector as a whole is facing this is a good place to be in, and testament to the enduring appeal of our courses, our staff and indeed the University and the city - in spite of the struggles of the past year and some unfavourable media coverage. SALC is still one of the go-to places to study Arts and Humanities in the UK.

The University's Size & Shape initiative which Alessandro reported on in the last Newsletter continues to evolve, with a decision on the main priority areas of development in each School to be determined in the autumn. It is heartening to know that the university sees considerable potential for growth and development in the Faculty of Humanities, and for SALC to play a substantive role within that. Given the pressure we often feel our subjects to be under from many sides, that is a vote of confidence not to be taken for granted.

The new academic year will also see the proper launch of Creative@Manchester as one of the new University Research Platforms, recognising creative research, impact and engagement as a core priority of the University - across all three faculties, but with SALC very much at the core. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that Professor John McAuliffe of the Centre for New Writing has been appointed as the first director of Creative@Manchester Platform. His appointment officially starts on 1 September. 

I could go on (those who know me from my last stint in Manchester may remember I have a tendency to do so), and apologies if I have forgotten to mention anything important; but I will take away no more time from whatever break you manage to carve out. Look after yourselves, and see you in September!

Best wishes,