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Univ North Working Party: Calum Miller

Univ North Working Party: Calum MillerCalum Miller (1996, PPE) is Chief Operating Officer and Associate Dean of Administration of the Blavatnik School of Government. Calum is also the Co-Director of Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE). Prior to joining the School in 2012, Calum served as Principal Private Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary and head of the UK Civil Service (2009-10) and to the Deputy Prime Minister (2010-12).

How did you get involved with UNWP and how long have you been a member?
The Master asked me to contribute my recent experience of project managing a new building in Oxford (and my older experience of student life in the College!). So I have been on-board from an early stage and have enjoyed seeing the project develop.

What have you brought to the Working Party and College from being involved?
I hope I’ve been able to share some lessons to help the College get the most from the many professional advisors involved in a project like this and how to achieve meaningful engagement with the local community. I’ve also been quite vocal about the need for a great gym to improve on the subterranean offer on the main site!

What does the Working Party do and how often does it meet?
We meet roughly every two months and serve as a project board: providing input and challenge to the College officers and professional advisors. Our meetings have followed the project cycle: distilling the College’s needs; helping to select the architect; giving feedback on emerging designs, including for the gardens and landscaping; getting more engaged on some of the questions of fit-out and selection of finishes. Along the way, we have contributed advice on managing the budget and the handling of communications with the local community and the planning process.

What does being a part of the Working Party mean to you?
It’s an incredible opportunity to contribute to the next chapter in Univ’s history. We have a chance to create a very special environment that will be woven into the lives of the next generation of Univ students and Fellows.

Which aspect of the project most interests you and why?
I’m fascinated by how outstanding design can foster community. From kitchens that invite sharing at common tables to meandering paths through beautiful gardens that will prompt unlikely meetings; if we get it right, these new spaces will give life to deep friendships and collaborations.

What do you think Univ North will mean to our community, and to future members of the College?
I hope the Univ North development will make it a true second home for the College: somewhere with its own lively and complimentary character. For students, including a higher number of students with disabilities or who come to Oxford with dependants, it will be wonderful to have the availability of high-quality, College-owned accommodation through every year of study. For the wider community, the orchard and gardens, meeting rooms, academic offices, nursery, café and gym will create new opportunities to gather, work and play together in new College surroundings.

Why should Old Members and Friends of the College support Univ North?
Univ North is the College’s most exciting project in a generation. At a time of uncertainty for many, it is an investment in the next generation of students and scholars: showing confidence that they can flourish in a College that is committed to their success.

Is there anything else you would like to say about Univ North?
The designs for both the buildings and the gardens are inspired. Both have drawn heavily on the legacy of the site and its surrounding area. I believe the new structures and the new planting will breathe life into the setting and create a beautiful environment.

Photo: John Cairns

Published: 30 June 2020

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