Five Minutes With…Dr Paula Dalziel

img-20160305-wa0000Name, role and department:
Dr Paula Dalziel, Residential Life Manager within the Residential Services Department.

How long have you been at Manchester Met: 
I arrived at Manchester Metropolitan on 20th May 2014, tasked with creating and delivering a Residential Life model that supports the best residential student experience and student retention.  And this has been one of the best decisions I made.

Favourite thing about the University
My colleagues and the students we have the opportunity to work with.  Each day I continue to meet new colleagues and learn, from a variety of perspectives, the best way to achieve the goals for enhancing staff and student experience.

A typical working day
I sometimes wish there was a typical day and then I remind myself that, if that were the case, this role would not be for me. My team alongside our Accommodation and Halls teams support students living in University Halls 24/7.  My team assist students with welfare concerns and educate them about respectful behaviour when living within a community.

I spend my working days implementing our Residential Life model to deliver the best possible service to our residential students (approximately 4,200).  The model is based on the highly respected research of Liz Thomas’ (2012/3) What Work’s.  The basis of that research and our philosophy is that students who are engaged with their environment, socially and/or their academic studies and have a ‘sense of belonging’ will be more likely to complete their university degree.

Residential Life is just catching on in the UK, about five or six universities have this model.  Alongside my colleagues Patricia Booth and Corinne Boothroyd, we will be presenting at our ASRA national conference about the developments Manchester has made to enhance our student experience.

Here the model is implemented via a proactive peer-to-peer support team of Residential Advisors (RAs). RAs are mature students who visit residents weekly and offer advice on how to engage with the university socially and/or academically.  They facilitate flatmate agreements, deliver events and campaigns, and run drop-in sessions.

I work to ensure continual evolution of our team and work with my Head of Department and Coordinators to deliver the best possible residential life model for students.

What is your ideal weekend
My ideal weekend may be rather busy.  I love being outside and enjoying nature either running along the trails up hills or walking and seeing and experiencing England’s rich countryside, which is best when shared with my wife and friends. I regularly take part in trail runs in the Lakes and these often make the weekend special.

I also like cooking and sharing a meal with friends – usually sorting out the problems of the world over a good meal.

This would be complete if the Manchester chorus (MLGC) with whom I sing would be having a concert or event as I really enjoy singing.

Interesting fact about you:  
I began my academic career with my PhD in Presidential Rhetoric, George Bush and Constructions of Otherness post 9/11.  I think it is interesting that my own experiences of being a mature student influenced me with respect to how I could best support students to achieve their goals.

What are you reading, watching or listening to at the moment
I absolutely love reading usually with Einaudi or Jarimoquai playing in the background.  I have just completed the Sympathiser by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Outrun by Amy Liptrot.  My favourite book of all time is Women Who Run with Wolves by Clarrisa Pinkola Estes.

Favourite place in the region
The Lake District and Yorkshire Moors.  There is no place better than being in the hills on a sunny day and it is not too bad even in foul weather.

Person you would most like to meet, past or present:
I would like to meet President Jimmy Carter who has been depicted as a failure while serving as president.  Undoubtedly, Jimmy Carter achieved more to support humanitarian need across the world post presidency, at the same time his story is about finding one’s place in life.  His story reminds us all that our job title is perhaps of little relevance; it is what we choose to do with that power that matters.

What items would take on a desert island and why:
I want all my books sitting on my bookshelves awaiting a good read and my trainers so that I can keep myself fit.  I would also want pen and paper so that I could write the books that I keep promising myself that I will write one day!