A good neighbour
Stuart's role involves fostering good relationships between the University and the local communities in which it is located.
After dropping out of an ill-fated degree in Physics, I returned to my home city to study Social Policy and Politics at the University of Edinburgh.
I became increasingly involved in party politics while at University, and after I graduated, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months working in Virginia for the Democrats during the 2012 Presidential election. Once I returned home, I worked for a number of local MPs and MSPs in Edinburgh.
Working in politics gave me a great knowledge of the city, and the various communities that make it special. Knowing some of the politicians has also helped me in my current role.
Politics has a tendency to reward nimble thinking, and can be pretty brutal in its short-term nature – you are only ever an election away from glory or losing your job! The University is a big change in that respect, with its longer outlook, but I welcome a bit more stability.
We try to reduce the gap between the city and the University.
My role as Community Relations Manager is to help look after the University’s relationship with our neighbours. I work in the Communication and Marketing department, as part of the Stakeholder Relations team.
We help to manage the University’s reputation, and specifically I am focused on how we are perceived locally. That means proactively attending local community meetings to be a friendly, and hopefully informative, public face of the University in the city. I am involved in delivering the University’s Community Engagement strategy, and am part of the Edinburgh Local team. We try to reduce the gap between the city and the University, for example through our Community Grants, given to local groups who are doing work to shrink that divide while creating social benefit for the community.
My role also involves being the voice of the community to the University, and the University’s voice in the community. That sometimes means reacting to issues that have arisen where residents have concerns about the University’s activities. I believe that sometimes conflict can be avoided through engagement with the community at an early stage, so I am there to help facilitate that.
Something I know...
I think what most people don’t know about the Stakeholder Relations team is that we exist at all! To the University community, I would say: if you have something you are doing, and it might involve the local stakeholders like community groups or politicians – please get in touch. We are here to help!