Dr Lauren Hall-Lew awarded Principal’s Medal for exceptional service
Lauren, a Reader in Linguistics, is recognised for her exceptional service to the University’s goals of promoting a diverse and inclusive community.
As creator and coordinator of the University’s BAME Mentoring Programme, and as a key member of the Women of Colour network, alongside her research interests and collaborations, Lauren has set a good example to all. The winners of the Principal’s Medals – the highest award bestowed upon staff and students – were announced as part of the University’s winter 2021 graduation honours.
Racialised staff at universities across the UK are negatively impacted by both individual and institutional racism. This results, among other things, in having fewer opportunities to develop research capacity and enhance their promotion prospects, and in feelings of invisibility, isolation, and marginalisation (AdvanceHE report). A 2015 report by the UCU found that the clear majority of its 7,003 BAME respondents had experienced bullying or harassment from managers and colleagues, and had been excluded from decision making and access to promotion.
Staff BAME Network
Welcoming all Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic (‘BAME’) academic and professional staff, including PhD researchers, at the University of Edinburgh, the Staff BAME Network provides a safe space for members to share their challenges, experiences, and stories.
The Network also aims to improve BAME members’ success within the higher education system through a range of activities that foster support for one another and celebrate BAME staff members’ achievements.
One of the suggested solutions to exclusion was the use of mentoring schemes, and so when the Sarah Liu and Rahdika Govinda created the Staff BAME Network and asked for a volunteer to run the Mentoring Programme, I was happy to do so.
It’s a small step toward improvement, and won’t have any effect without broader changes in racial literacy and training and support across all staff, but I’ve received many positive responses from programme participants about the new relationships they’ve forged and the knowledge and insight they’ve gained. It’s been a genuine pleasure to head up the programme, and I hope that in the future we can move away from a voluntary model so that programme leads can incorporate this post into their official work loads.
First awarded in 2008, the Principal's Medals celebrate the achievements and dedication of the professional services and academic colleagues and current students who have delivered exceptional service, in supporting and serving the University or the wider community and demonstrated strong alignment to the University’s values. Recipients can be nominated by students and staff.
Lauren is a sociophonetician studying the social aspects of phonetic variation. Her research focuses differences in speech among speakers of different social backgrounds and in different social contexts.
Lauren currently teaches on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses within the School. She is also convenor for the Sociolinguistics reading group, the Language Variation and Change research group, the Edinburgh Speaks research group, and the Lothian Diary Project.