June Member Spotlight | Bob Westaway
The June member spotlight is on Bob Westaway, AUA Lead Moderator for conference session proposals.
Why do you do it?
I became a member of one of the AUA’s predecessor-organisations (the CUA) within about two weeks of joining the profession, and eventually I got to the often-expressed position where I felt that I had gained so much out of membership that I wanted to give something back.
One of my obsessions is professional development, and my first active involvement with the AUA was to become a mentor for what later became the PGCert. In those days, the AUA had a lot of committees (much like most of out HEIs!) and my next move was to join the AUA’s then Professional Development Committee (PDC). But of course it wasn’t possible to just sit on committees; it was necessary to become involved in their work, and one of the things I did was to become a moderator for the AUA Conference; a role I have continued to this day.
The role has changed a lot, but it remains an extremely satisfying one. We review the proposals for the annual Conference and decide which ones should be included in the programme. We also try to make constructive suggestions as to how those in each category can be improved.
What has been the best bit so far?
Without a doubt it is the point each year when, having read all the proposals, I can see that we have enough to fill the available slots. Of course, it’s a sad bit too, because it means that some good-quality proposals will be unsuccessful. I find it very rewarding that, year after year, very busy people still feel sufficiently committed to AUA and to the Conference to submit high-quality and innovative sessions for consideration. It is probably true that most of the sessions which are unsuccessful are turned down more on the presentation, than on the content itself. In these cases, AUA is committed to providing feedback to the proposers to help them to prepare a better submission in the future.
Would you recommend the role?
Yes definitely. It is so rewarding to have a glimpse every year of some of the imaginative and thoughtful work going on around the sector, and it makes one feel that the future of the profession is in good hands. It’s also great to feel a part of the Conference, which is such an important aspect of AUA`s work. Furthermore, there will be a vacancy in the foreseeable future, as, having done the job for a long time now, I feel that it is time for some fresh blood and intend to step down in the next year or two. So I am sure that the AUA Office would be interested to hear from anyone who feels they could take on the role.