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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Professor Dame Jessica Corner

I have been looking back at some of my papers from 2008 when we started working together as Health Sciences, though there were quite a number who didn't really want to back then. We had different camps and professional allegiances and painful memories of previous re-organisations. I think there was quite a bit of scepticism over whether we could make the vision of a single integrated interdisciplinary entity out of a disparate group of health professionals, educators and researchers work when many felt we had little in common. But we set out to build a world leading centre for developing clinical leaders and research that would transform healthcare and by any measure we have absolutely achieved this. Health Sciences faculties and schools seem to be appearing in universities all over the country and I know they are emulating ours in Southampton - as they say 'the best form of flattery'!

We started with a new school project and identified 32 harmonisation projects to smooth out the differences in the ways different parts of health sciences had been working and to create single ways of doing things. We built from scratch our administrative functions and we developed a strategy to diversify our education to a broader base than the NHS, to develop our student community to become increasingly post-graduate and to build our research economy. We weathered the University's Transformation Project, we found our way through the largest and most complex reorganisation of the NHS since it was formed in 1948. Over the seven years we have doubled the Faculty's research income and grown the number of postgraduate research students into a large and thriving community many of whom are supported through externally funded fellowships. We've seen over 5,000 students graduate and go on to careers in the service of caring for people in local health and care services and increasingly in countries across the world. We invested our own resources into building facilities to support great clinical research focused on the most challenging problems in health care rehabilitation, fundamental care and workforce and to build clinical academic capacity for the health system, as well as achieved first ranked status in REF 2014. We now have a Health Sciences Faculty at the heart of the University drawing on many other disciplines to address as yet unsolved challenges of care and health. It has been an amazing journey and I am so proud and privileged to have been part of it.

As ever we face exciting and challenging times ahead with the recent announcement of a new system for funding health higher education with the transfer to tuition fees and the NHS bursary to maintenance loans, it will be more important than ever to be agile and strategic in our response. Our students will rightly become more demanding of us as paying customers and there will be high expectations of us to expand to address shortages in the workforce. I look forward to seeing how you will take this forward. I know you will respond, as ever, with first mover imagination and pace.

I must give personal thanks to my closest colleagues Paloma Aguado-Styles who is amazing at co-ordinating me and the Dean's Office and before her Natalie Aitken as well as Lesley Vaughan.

Special tribute to Sue Colley who has been the single continuous presence on the Health Sciences Executive since 2008 and has covered for me on numerous occasions. She deserves a medal!

Faculty Executive members past and present - you have been wonderful team and colleagues to work with and few people will see the hours you put into making things work and oiling the wheels for what we are trying to achieve. And to Richard Wagland who has helped me keep research active

I could acknowledge so many others - but that would take up too much space here but thank you each and every one of you for your support and tolerance of me. Please do keep in touch and don't hesitate to be in touch to let me know how you are doing or for help. Once I have a permanent home - I will be 'at home' for anyone who wants to visit the Midlands; the food and hospitality in the BaileyCorner household is not bad.

Finally thank you so much for the beautiful flowers and gifts. Pictured here in the lovely vase you gave me along with Le Creuset cooking dishes, L’Occitaine smellies and a voucher for the Royal Opera House – all my favourite things, I am quite overwhelmed by your generosity.

With best wishes and happy Christmas


Jessica's flowers
Jessica's flowers
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