We’re starting a new series of blog posts featuring well-known people from across all of UAL’s six colleges. These monthly profiles will provide a look into life at UAL, and hopefully, there’ll be some faces you recognise!

First up we have Paul Haywood, the Dean of Academic Programmes at Central Saint Martins. Paul has worked at CSM for the past 12 months, working closely with academics, students and support teams in Culture and Enterprise, Drama and Performance, Fine Art and Graphic Communication Design courses.

What is your day-to-day role at CSM?
I’m not really sure what my role entails. My job title is Dean of Academic Programmes and I work with the teams in Culture and Enterprise, Drama and Performance, Fine Art and Graphic Communication Design. I started in the post 12 months ago and, in that time, I’ve sort of assumed that someone in my position should work very hard at whatever it is that needs doing.

Of course, there is a job description and in basic terms, the key focus is the alignment of the operational priorities of each programme with University and College strategic objectives. This is not quite as straightforward as it might sound given the rapidly shifting policy environment in the UK and specific impacts on social and economic realities for our student community and relations with the rest of the world. In any case, UAL is not a normal Higher Education Institution. This is an obvious point, given the reputation of the place, but it is vast in scale and complexity; by nature, an establishment that is both eccentric and hyperactive. I mean this in a good way. This is a specialist Art and Design, and now Performance University, however the range of expertise, the intensity of innovation, the diversity of inquiry and adventure, the depth of individual obsessions and the sheer enthusiasm of our people, is utterly dazzling.

My position at Central Saint Martins means that whilst I do work for and with colleagues from right across the University and support the work of the University Executive, I am most closely connected to the academics, students and support teams of the Programmes for art, culture, graphics and performance at CSM. Each is distinctive, not just because of the particulars of the discipline but equally because of the inherent strengths and qualities of the people. Make no mistake, these are extraordinary people, who do and make extraordinary things. It might seem cliched to refer to my job as a privilege, but one would never normally encounter this calibre or quantity of talent within one collected set of communities. My day-to-day role is to listen, observe, support, encourage, make possible, persuade, advocate, champion, administer, account, sometimes manage, sometimes pronounce and even, occasionally, resist or dissuade, so that these programme communities can continue to excel at what they do best.

What did you do before you came to UAL?
I started working in academia by mistake at around the age of 40. Up to that point, I’d had quite an array jobs that were purely for the subsidy of my art studies and practice; everything from chain man to industrial cleaner to kitchen porter. I had studied Fine Art straight from school and thought I wanted to teach at secondary level or serve local communities. As it turned out, I did not approve of the systems of statutory education that were emerging in Thatcher’s Britain but the communities in the north-west did need as much assistance, in whatever form, as they could get. After my children were born, I spent the larger portion of my time looking after them and the remainder working with an artists’ collective on self-initiated and commissioned projects across the housing estates of Rochdale, Oldham and Salford. My partner, Karen Lyons, is a wonderful artist and was successful as an academic, she worked with Tim Dunbar to set up the innovative and influential Visual Arts and Culture course at the University of Salford in the early 90s. They needed a part-time studio technician who would cover a range of activities and would connect the course with local neighbourhoods and community-based organisations or businesses to create collaborative projects. I got the job and from there fell into University teaching. I secured a full-time role when our eldest, Martha, reached the age of 11. Martha is 28 now and a terrific artist in her own right.

I’ve remained connected to Salford throughout that entire time and I still have a role as Visiting Professor based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Clearly, I don’t know anything about Nursing or Midwifery, but they know an awful lot about experience-based learning and their work-based learning framework is one of the most established in the country. In this role, I work with APEL specialist Ruth Potts and the designer Maxine Kennedy to support the University’s continuing developments with community partners and a European wide network of allegiances for informal and non-formal learning. Further, I continue with my role as a Director at Islington Mill Arts Club; Bill Campbell started to develop the Mill as an artist and design hub in 2001, the same year that I started full-time at the University, and we have been friends ever since. I remain active with Guns to Goods, a CIC that I co-founded in 2008 to recycle weapons from crime for artistic purposes. And, I have a space for art (and play) at Ebor Studios in Rochdale, where Karen and Martha have recently set up a new gallery and artist residency space.

In the three years before I started at UAL: CSM, I was Deputy Dean for the School of Art and Design at Middlesex University where I was fortunate enough to work with Professor Hilary Robinson during her tenure as Dean. That was three very exciting years in which the School grew in size and, more importantly, developed responses to the shared ethos of a staff team that had a clear vision for improving social justice and principles of fairness within their own discipline fields and throughout society.

Paul and his wife, Karen Lyons

What is your favourite thing about UAL/ CSM?
To continue the theme of improving social justice, this place is packed full of people who are determined to make a difference; to disrupt where systems, ideas and practices present barriers to cultural enrichment, to innovate and initiate change where opportunity remains abstruse or difficult to access, to invent or embrace challenge for the sake of expanding their field. UAL and CSM operates as a creative engine that has essential and fundamental worth and reach for all areas of society and our economy. However, the very concept of a Creative Industries sector suggests a marginalisation of the activity and is, thereby, diminishing and constraining. Policy makers, commentators and professional politicians have eagerly adopted reductive terms of reference such as this as one means of instrumentalising education in the arts. UAL and CSM steadfastly refuses to acknowledge or work within those implicit limitations and this is what makes the organisation so potent.

Students are facing huge debt because it has been handed to them by a political generation and class obsessed with the privatisation of resources in the UK. Creating a transactional and, therefore, contractual environment for higher education has and will, inevitably, engender an expectation of reciprocal value in monetary profit to benefit the consumer of that education. The proposal, the intention, is that we sell qualifications on the promise of improving an individual’s economic prospects. Of course, the model has produced a highly competitive environment focused on material value and, it offers mechanisms for central political and governmental control through metrics that have little to do with education designed for the common good. Were we to embrace this model, we would be diminishing many of the core motivations that are so often demonstrated by our students and staff and would mitigate against the wider social mission of the arts. I love this place and the people who belong here because they so often aspire to disrupt expectations and move beyond the obvious, in doing so, they offer an alternative proposition that is more inherently invested with humanitarian perspectives. CSM generates an irrepressible dynamism and momentum.

My primary emotion on my first day of work at CSM as I crossed Granary Square, was one of fear; I’ve been terrified ever since. This is a place where virtually anything is possible and, most of it, beyond my immediate comprehension. It’s exciting and energising and taxing and exhausting and I wouldn’t want to do anything that might, in any way, limit that potency. Of course, we have to work hard to improve access, inclusion and fairness as well as the quality of cultural representation and cultural empowerment supported by our practices; it’s our continuing mission. I wouldn’t want that any other way either.

Paul Haywood

Can you tell us something people might not know about CSM…
I wouldn’t make so bold as to attempt to educate anyone in the ways and habits of Central Saint Martins; I haven’t been here long enough. When I arrived, one of the things that gave me the biggest surprise was the sheer quantity and depth of engagement with the local area and the communities, organisations and business that make up our neighbourhood. I think I could have guessed that a place like CSM might have accrued a range of partnerships with prestigious or influential leaders in business and research sectors but what actually happens is extensive and very far-reaching. Each and every course and programme owns an entire calendar of externally facing activity and projects enough to make one proud. They are supported by External Liaison Co-ordinators for each programme and the added value for our students is irreplaceable. Add to that the initiatives of the Business Innovation and External Liaison teams, and the new Local Engagement Strategy and then the excellence of the Events and Facilities teams and the outcomes are quite literally astounding.  Of course, this is in addition to incredible achievements across research areas, but I mean to highlight the quantity and quality of external engagement and, as a consequence, the permeability of our organisation. To illustrate the point, last year CSM hosted over 473 events that attracted more than 95,500 visitors. The degree shows alone brought an audience of 36,000 on to the site and these numbers do not include our own students or staff. Potentially, this puts us in the top 200 of visitor attractions nationally. Clearly, it is not our intention to create a new tourist destination for London but these statistics do demonstrate one very significant aspect of the College culture.

If there is someone you’d like to hear from, from your time at UAL, please email us your suggestions.