Staff Spotlight on...Professor Peter Lambert

Staff Spotlight: Professor Peter Lambert, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)

How long have you worked at the University and what does your role involve?

I joined in 2000, an easy date to remember. I was appointed to launch Spanish and Latin American studies which is now thriving. The focus of my role has constantly changed over the years, so in many ways I still feel like I’m new.

As Pro-Vice-Chancellor I have direct responsibility for Academic Registry, the Centre for Learning and Teaching, Student Services, the Skills Centre and the Careers Service – along with a special relationship with the Students’ Union. I also have overall responsibility for learning and teaching and student experience. Ultimately it’s my aim to create the best environment we can for students and staff to enable the most effective learning and teaching.

On a more personal level, I think it’s important to use my position to try to ensure colleagues feel respected, appreciated and valued in their roles and contributions. Small touches can make a big difference.

What would you most like to achieve while at the University?

Long term – helping to make the University as inclusive, supportive and collaborative as it can be for staff and students. Right now my priority is curriculum & assessment redesign - creating a sustainable, coherent and relevant curriculum & assessment regime. It is about pedagogy but also about health and wellbeing, enabling students and staff to thrive. I believe that this, rather than exhortations from management or the latest gimmicks, will allow the University to maintain its position as one of the best in the country for learning and teaching for the next 20 years.

What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?

Be curious, try out new things and use their time to explore new ideas and activities. Learn in the broadest sense and live the moment to the full. Just never at the expense of others.

Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?

Colleagues, without a shadow doubt. It’s a privilege to work with committed, passionate people and play a small part in initiatives that change people’s lives for the better. The longer I’m in this job and the more people I meet, whatever the grade, whatever the job, the more I am struck by the commitment, the collective pride and the huge impact individuals can have.

Who was your most influential teacher/educator, and why?

Andrew Nixon, at the University of Birmingham, who is one of the leading authorities on the history of Paraguay, where I lived for four very formative years. He’s never lost sight of the importance of the links between poverty, education, social welfare and democracy, whether in the UK or in Latin America. He was an inspiring lecturer when I was an undergraduate and later became a close friend and colleague. He’s 70 now and campaigning and publishing more than ever.

What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger?

Don’t plan so much. Few, if any of my painstakingly developed plans ever seem to have come to fruition; I’ve found that life just throws things up and has had much more to do with luck or coincidence - being in the right place at the right time and seizing the chance – than forward planning.

What was your first job?

A summer holiday packing cigarettes in a distribution factory in Bromley when I was 14. Everybody smoked so I reeked by the end of the day. Amazingly, my mother thought it was great that I had a proper job.

What’s your favourite book or album and why?

Clandestino by Manu Chao. This was a ground-breaking album at the time – with songs in multiple languages, musicians from France, Spain and Algeria, catchy tunes and incisive social commentary. The album was an international hit – but like so many things in other languages, didn’t really reach the UK; so he would play stadia across Europe and the Americas to 50-60,000 people, and then to about 100 in Bristol.

When are you happiest?

Walking my dog Holly in the fields. There’s nothing like fresh air, the sun/rain on your face and a wagging tail after spending all day at work.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?

Frida Kahlo the Mexican painter, a woman and an artist who was ahead of her times. She offers hope in the face of adversity – life threw just about everything at her and she still managed to live it to the full in the most creative ways.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been vegetarian or vegan since I was 15. I’m also hopelessly colour-blind (much to the amusement of my children).

Which one superpower would you like to possess?

Right now for the sun to come out and stay for a while. It’s been too long.

Tell us your favourite joke

Two goldfish in a tank.

One says to another “I hope you know how to drive this thing”

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