Chair of BAME Staff Network, Dr Valerie Watson, steps down

August 10th, 2020

The Chair of the BAME Staff Network, Dr Valerie Watson, has stepped down after serving 12 years in the role. She left the University at the beginning of August.

She is succeeded as Chair of the network by Dr Maria Augusta Arruda, who took up the role at the beginning of July.

Val is a familiar face to may across the University, particularly in her role as Head of Counselling. She has worked in education for over thirty years, initially as a school teacher then as an adult education lecturer, trainer, and director of counselling studies.

She has also had a range of voluntary roles in the community including Victim Support, Rape Crisis and, more recently, adoption consultancy.

She has maintained an abiding interest in issues of race, ethnicity and the impact of difference on relationships, community action, and the maintenance of health through the use of and access to the arts for all. Latterly, her work has focussed on the potential of therapeutic work in groups and organisational reflective practice as a healing agent.

Professor Sarah Sharples, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said:

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Val over the past few years. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with her in three different capacities – as the lead of the BME staff network, as Head of Counselling, and most recently, in her work supporting our new team of EDI Coordinators.

“Val is someone who authentically represents and lives our University values in all that she does. I have particularly welcomed her strong and thoughtful challenge to me and others in our work to improve BME staff inclusion. I have also personally valued her wisdom and insight – which is always accompanied by a very welcome serving of dry wit!

“Val has made a real and lasting difference to the University of Nottingham.

“I will miss Val as a member of our University community very much, but am sure that she will stay in touch, and I hope will continue to work with us as a friend of the University for many years to come.”

Dr Maria Augusta Arruda is Research Development Manager in the University’s Research and Innovation, and Lead of the Research and Business Development Network. After 15 years as an academic in the field of Pharmacology, she is interested in diversity in science and science communication.

Dr Arruda said:

“Val Watson, with her unique blend of calmness and relentlessness, built the deep and strong foundations the BME Network stands in. With the recent assaults to the wider BAME community, particularly the violence against Black people, becoming a more visible issue, the Network is fulfilling its role of providing a safe space to our members while advocating and promoting the values that will help to turn our institution into a truly anti-racist University.

“Honouring Val’s legacy, we are in the process of rebranding the network – now Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Staff Network. We are also committed to continuing to work closely with the University’s higher administration, the other Staff Networks and the Student Union, to ensure that our environment is as fair and nurturing as possible, revising practices that allowed institutional racism to persist in our structure.

“We are also working on making our Network more visible and active across the University, so we can truly represent the University’s BAME Community’s needs and aspirations. And the Black History Month, a fixture in the University’s calendar, is around the corner – watch this space!

“Val epitomises the term Ubuntu: “I am because you are”. She has been our Oracle, our safe harbour during tumultuous times, beloved and respected across the University.

“Thanks to her drive, knowledge and commitment, our Network has challenged the system in a productive and responsible way. Although we are all going to miss her terribly, I am very happy to share with the wider community that she has accepted becoming the BAME Staff Network Honorary Chair in recognition of her magnificent work and legacy.”

The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network is open to all staff at the University of Nottingham regardless of grade, job family, or contract length.

The aims of the BAME Staff Network are:

  • Provide a forum for BAME staff to network and at which we can discuss issues of specific interest that have an effect on us.
  • Provide professional support and information about how individual issues may be raised.
  • Act as a voice for BAME staff offering a source of consultation and a means of communicating with the University about BAME issues in relation to University policies and practices.
  • Assist with policy development on BAME issues by providing advice and feedback to EDI Committee, Human Resources and other relevant University committees

The BAME Staff Network is delighted to welcome new members and contributions from existing members. For further details, please email the BAME Staff Network.

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One Comment

August 20th, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Helen Toft

Thank you for this summary of Val’s great work and introduction to Dr Arruda whose words fill me with hope.
I am not a member of BAME staff but an ally. As an educator I made it my job to support BAME teachers and pupils in schools in Sheffield, Leicester and Nottingham, as well academic staff and students in three universities in Nottingham and Leeds. I have found some experiences at UoN by academics with diverse backgrounds at best bewildering, at worst disturbing. I sincerely hope that true and deep change is being forged for UoN’s future and will be an active promoter of this network. Thank you, Helen Toft.

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