University of Stirling team wins international award

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The University of Stirling’s Estates and Campus Services team has received an international award in recognition of its work to save Summer Graduation, following a major flood which hit the campus in June 2019.

The Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) named Stirling’s Estates and Campus Services team as ‘Team of the Year’ - the first time the accolade has been bestowed on a Scottish university – for ‘the outstanding teamwork, leadership, and commitment’ shown in the aftermath of the devastating flood.

The AUDE judges said: “Were it not for the University of Stirling’s Estates and Campus Services team, the end of year graduation ceremony would never have happened. The team were faced with an impossible task but worked tirelessly to deliver. 

“Their performance is considered so good that it should be used as an exemplar on how to react to such an incident. The way in which the team dealt with this challenge is something we can all learn from.”

On the evening of 24 June 2019, the Stirling area was hit by unprecedented rainfall and flash flooding in what was described by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency as ‘a once in 100 years’ storm’. Not only did the flood damage more than a third of all teaching spaces on campus, it placed the University’s Summer Graduation ceremonies which were set to take place the next day in jeopardy.

With thousands of guests due to begin arriving in less than 12 hours for the ceremonies, and installation of the new University Chancellor, Lord Jack McConnell, the Estates and Campus Services team worked tirelessly through the night to put in place an emergency response plan.

The dedication and expertise of the team meant there were no visible signs of the flood in the venue by the time the ceremony got underway. Many thousands of graduates, guests, and staff were able to enjoy the most anticipated and celebratory day on the University calendar thanks to the efforts of the Estates and Campus Services team.

Once Graduation was complete, the team’s hard work continued to ensure the University would be operational for the start of semester, with the minimum of disruption for students. For a 10-week period, the team worked shifts around the clock to manage multiple contractors and consultants across campus, to overcome the major logistical challenge.

Colin McNally, Executive Director of Estates and Campus Services, said: “This is a proud moment for the entire team and is a timely reminder of what teamwork, experience, and dedication can achieve in the face of adversity.

“The initial assessment discovered almost a fifth of campus had been damaged by flood water, a third of teaching spaces had been lost, more than 65 student bedroom spaces had been impacted, and almost all academic buildings had been affected in some way. From a standing start, we had to react quickly to procure contractors and consultants to repair and refurbish more than 13,000m2, in just 10 weeks.

“It was a truly tremendous effort by the team, for the benefit of all students, staff, and visitors to the University.”

The Estates and Campus Services team consists of 122 people, including tradesmen, cleaners, security staff, gardeners, administration staff, porters, and projects staff. It is responsible for the longer-term development, maintenance and day-to-day operation of buildings and grounds across the University’s beautiful 330-acre campus.

It plays a key role in delivering an excellent experience for staff and students, with the Stirling campus being voted No.1 in the UK for Environment and Campus.