“It was a running start,” says Deeks of his first few weeks as UCD President. “Over the first three weeks, working with the Registrar [Mark Rogers] I did a review of the University Management Team and as a result we proposed a much simpler structure that we are in the process of implementing. That includes a student experience group that reports directly into the University Management Team.”
At such an early stage in his tenure, this is welcoming news to hear that Deeks is not afraid to overhaul old systems and simplify the bureaucracy, which can slow down the process of actually affecting change.
The links between the top level of management at UCD and students have been tentative in recent years. This move that will see students have a direct line to upper echelons of management will hopefully help both sides gain a greater understanding of each other, avoiding the trend of students’ trust levels plummeting when they struggle to find common ground on key interests with the University.
Deeks is keen to work with students and hear what they have to say, but dealing with student groups that are purely breeding grounds for future politicians doesn’t seem to interest him. It appears he’d welcome dealing with a Students’ Union (SU) that is more focused on improving student life.
“Coming from the Australian system, the SUs went from a situation where they were a breeding ground for future politicians to a situation where they were much more concerned with student facilities, the student experience on campus, with representing the student body to senior management,” says Deeks.
“What I would hope is that our SU will adopt that kind of approach that they will be concerned with student experience on campus, working with me and my management team in terms of improving that and that party politics will not be a part of student politics.”
Also important to Deeks is that all students are on a united front. The perception that Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will be left in the wake of other faculties is not his end goal. A combining of all efforts to improve the University, with each faculty contributing equally to this vision, is one of the major changes he feels UCD could benefit from.
“There is an opportunity to integrate things far more in UCD. Great progress has been made on many fronts, but there is a need to integrate all this to ensure research and education, the international agenda are all brought back together.
“[They should be] complimentary to ensure that the University itself see ourselves as one community, including Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Engineering, lawyers, business people all see us as one university pushing in the same direction.”