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Wytham 75th celebrations take shape

The programme of events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bequest of Wytham Woods to the University is coming together, with a wide range of activities planned for the whole of the 2017/18 academic year. Already the team have been sprucing the place up in readiness – for instance, they have installed new maps and signage for display at the entrance to the Woods.

The list of events is too long to reproduce here, but highlights have already included a VIP ceremony to unveil a new blue plaque commemorating the Wytham bequest on Saturday 7 October. There will be guided walks to celebrate 75 years of science in the Woods on 14 October, 11 November and 27 January; and in January the launch of a new book giving an introduction to that scientific legacy.

There will be events to mark Women in Science Day in February, a public lecture at the Museum of Natural History on 14 April, and traditional May activities like badger watching and bat walks. There will also be exhibitions at St John’s College in February and at the Maths Institute in the spring – the latter focusing more on the scientific personalities behind research at Wytham, and on its mathematical underpinnings. There will even be open-air cinema at the Wytham chalet, with screenings of a film about Hazel ffennel, in whose memory the Woods were bequeathed to the University, of the Laboratory with Leaves videos and of the Inspector Morse episode ‘The Way Through the Woods’, filmed there in 1995.

Keep an eye on the Wytham Woods Facebook page or website to find out more about upcoming events, and for instructions on how to book places – not all those mentioned above are yet included, but they will appear in due course once details are finalised.

FM Forum – save the date

The next FM Forum will take place on 26 October from midday until 2pm at St Luke’s Chapel on the ROQ, bringing together building managers and other FM professionals from all over the University to share ideas and discuss issues of common concern. To find out more or register to attend, visit FM forum.

Project Sponsor Group training timetable

The last Project Sponsor Group training session of 2017 is scheduled for 17 November. In 2018, sessions are planned for 10 January, 14 March, 2 May, 5 July, 12 September and 22 November. Sessions take place from 10-11.30am at The Malthouse, Tidmarsh Lane. For more information or to book a place, please contact Linda Ranford, Capital Projects Administrator.

University Club update

Some parts of the University Club will soon be resuming business as usual after the staff who were accommodated there following the closure of the Tinbergen building move into new modular buildings at the ROQ and on the nearby sports field. Although the Zoology Department will continue to use the first floor for the medium term, bedroom accommodation at the Club will be reinstated and available to book from November.

Next steps for the Estates LibraryEbook Tablet Computer by adamr

Staff from the Estates Services Information Management team have spent much of the summer reorganising the Estates library in the basement of the Examination Schools, after a series of moves to new buildings and the addition of new archives. The library now has five well-ordered rooms filled with functional and commercial building records, as well as other records pertaining to several teams across Estates Services. The team is now analysing the next steps, which include reviewing and updating an existing incomplete electronic catalogue of the records. The team aims to link Planon catalogue entries to scanned copies of the records, which would allow users to access relevant documents without leaving their desk. 

Events in the Parks

The University Parks have hosted another packed summer of events, with more still to come. Giffords Circus staged another extremely popular series of shows in June, with the 2017 sold-out ‘Any Port in a Storm’ extravaganza featuring gymnastics and dancing horses, while in August the Creation Theatre wowed punters with its production of Alice. Both the Memory Walk to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society, on September 20, and the Walk for Parkinson’s ten days earlier took in part of the Parks in their routes. The Parks also hosted the athletes’ village for the Oxford Half Marathon on October 8; the event, recently taken over by Virgin Sport, continues to grow strongly, with more than 8,000 people taking part this year compared to around 7,000 in 2016.  

From Amethyst Deceivers to Zebra Spiders – Letters from the Woods 

Researchers working in Wytham Woods have produced a fascinating A-Z of many of the plants, animals and fungi that live there. It’s organised not just by first letter, but also by date – for every fortnight of the 75th anniversary year, an entry will go up on the new Wytham Woods website directing readers’ attention to a species that’s of particular interest or prominence at that point. The first instalment – the beautiful purple-hued Amethyst Deceiver mushroom – is already online, and many more will follow. Keep an eye on the Wytham website to read the latest updates over the year.

An Estates Induction

The next induction to Estates Services will take place on 31 October, starting at 10am. These sessions are intended for Departmental Administrators, Building Managers and other colleagues around the University who will be dealing with parts of Estates Services regularly and would benefit from an overview of the department’s structure and responsibilities. The morning will include talks from Paul Goffin, Director of Estates Services, Carolyn Puddicombe, Director of Asset & Space Management, and Isobel Hughes, Director of Operations. If you are interested in attending, please contact Raquel Lopez on

Gingko gates will create beautiful new entrance to Parks

The project to install the Gingko Gates at a new location on the western perimeter of the University Parks, providing an attractive new way to access the Parks and improving public safety, is entering its final stages.

The project is likely to be completed by the end of January next year, with work now expected to start in October. The gates used to sit at the entrance to the Science Area, but were removed as part of the Beecroft development. The plan is now to install them midway along the side of the University Parks facing Parks Road, providing a new entrance point and helping ease the problem of overcrowding around the existing gate to the south, which damages the ground surface and leads to potentially dangerous overspill into the road. The Keble Gates will be re-sited in early 2018 after being temporarily removed during construction of the new Beecroft building. They will connect the Parks to the landscaped area around the building.

Oxford and Zurich collaborate for better videoconferencing

The University of Oxford and ETH Zurich are jointly organising a virtual conference at the end of October that will explore ways to improve videoconferencing (VC) facilities so as to encourage staff to take fewer long-distance flights to attend meetings – one of the biggest sources of university carbon emissions.

Fittingly, the conference itself will take place over VC. The technology has made huge advances over recent decades but encouraging people to use it instead of some of their face-to-face meetings is proving difficult across the university sector. In Oxford and Zurich, as elsewhere, there is no map of where VC equipment is, it is often not easy for all staff to access and there are many different kinds of equipment, creating unnecessary difficulties in learning to use it.

The collaboration arises from the two institutions’ common membership of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), an association of 11 leading universities from around the world which meet regularly to discuss areas of common concern. Oxford is likely to host next year’s annual meeting. The Environmental Sustainability team are interested in hearing from anyone who would like to take part in the virtual conference. Please register here.

New Sustainability programmes ready to launchEnvironmental Sustainability logo

The Environmental Sustainability team’s regular programmes to engage staff and students are ramping up for another academic year.

Green Impact, which aims to get people all over the University to make changes that will make their buildings more sustainable, is happening again, but with changes. The actions teams can take will now include areas like increasing workplace wellbeing, and it will be possible to do a large project instead of simply completing topics in the online workbook as before.

Student Switch Off, which builds student awareness of environmental sustainability, is also about to launch again for 2017/18; it will include for the second year a section on recycling, broadening the previous focus on energy-saving.

The Carbon Innovation Programme will undergo more profound changes, being renamed ‘Imagine Better’. Participants will still form teams and create detailed proposals for making the University more sustainable, but now these proposals can aim for a wider range of environmental improvements. Projects in the ‘Energetic Behaviours’ category will relate to efforts to save energy and cut carbon emissions, like those sought in previous years, while ‘Sustainable living’ proposals will relate to food, waste and biodiversity, and ‘Moving ahead’ will be about a more sustainable transport system.

There will be more emphasis on building transferrable business skills in participants, rather than on focusing on the ideas they come up with; mentors will work with teams to help them produce detailed project plans and business cases. Imagine Better will launch over winter, with a deadline for submissions in April.

Come to see the FM event venues

University and college staff who organise meetings and events are invited on a free showcase trip to four Oxford University Event Venues – the Examination Schools, St Luke’s Chapel, Osler House and the Sheldonian Theatre on 8 December – from 12.00 to 4.00pm. There will be private tours around each venue, with a special chance to see the finest panoramic views in Oxford from the Sheldonian’s cupola. Attendees will be able to learn about each venue’s unique history, meet the team and find out how they can help make events a success, whether they are large conferences, small meetings, exhibitions, drinks receptions or something else entirely. A buffet lunch will also be provided. To register, just get in touch before Friday 24 November on or 01865 278787. 

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