A defining experience
Professor Calie Pistorius stepped down as Vice-Chancellor in January 2017 after more than seven years. During his tenure, the University initiated the largest investment programme of its kind in the institution’s history. He recalls his proudest moments
During my term as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, the higher education environment changed tremendously. My mandate as Vice-Chancellor was one of transformation, ensuring that the University was positioned competitively for the future.
In order to create a sustainable future, it is necessary to invest. Our strategic plans were investment-driven and focused on student experience, people, infrastructure and partnerships. New academic initiatives included programmes and departments in mathematics, chemical engineering and astrophysics; the faculties and schools were repositioned; and a review of the entire curriculum (Curriculum 2016+) was undertaken. New cross-disciplinary institutes that build on our strengths and resonate with the region’s needs were also established.
A major part of the investment focused on infrastructure. A number of new buildings were constructed and underwent major refurbishment, including the Allam Medical Building, the Brynmor Jones Library and Middleton Hall. New sports facilities and more residences were announced and are in advanced stages of development. The IT infrastructure was also significantly enhanced.
What really stands out for me was defining the University’s contribution to the community and positioning it as an ‘anchor institution’. When the judges announced that Hull had won the UK City of Culture 2017, for example, they specifically mentioned the University’s role in winning the bid. It was a fantastic moment for all. The University is now a principal partner and participant in the 2017 programme, with many events hosted on the campus.
Ultimately, universities are about students and I believe student experience is one of our key strengths. It was always a highlight to speak with current students and alumni, listening to the enthusiasm with which they relate their experiences at the University. I’ve yet to meet an alumnus who is not extremely proud of this University. They are all making a difference in their respective fields and emphasise the life-changing effect the University has had on them.
After more than 15 years of being a Vice-Chancellor (eight at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and seven and half at the University of Hull), it was an opportune time to move on to pursue my other passion – innovation. I was educated as an engineer and subsequently developed an interest in the management of innovation. This led me to establish the Institute for Technological Innovation at the University of Pretoria and also chair the National Advisory Council on Innovation, which advised the government on science, technology and innovation policy in South Africa. I am delighted to be able to take this interest forward once again, and have established a consulting company, DeltaHedron Ltd, which focuses on supporting its clients with the management of innovation. The company is based in the UK and has a global reach through a network of international associates.
It has been a tremendous privilege for me to have led the University of Hull through the last seven and half years. I would like to thank everyone I worked with, specifically the Chancellor, students, alumni and donors, as well as colleagues in the City of Hull and its surrounding regions. Universities achieve success through collaborative efforts and it was a defining experience to work with such wonderful people.