Goodbye Karen Gray!


Karen is our longest serving trustee and indeed joined the board when it was set up under the new governance structure.

Karen is not the ‘shy and retiring’ type!  And it is clear that she still has a passion for both the SU and the University – as we all witnessed recently during the Mens Bar debate!

This has been an advantage to the board over many years.  As well as being supportive to all of the officers, (48 since Karen started), she has challenged, scrutinised and at times contradicted them, which is of course all part and parcel of what a good trustee should be doing.

Karen challenges the status quo and very much keeps the senior management team on their toes!

We thought it might interesting to share a few facts of just a what has been going on since Karen’s arrival.  To name just a few:

  • AU membership has risen from 3,140 to 5,065 – a  61% rise
  • Society memberships have risen from 7,300 to 17,477 – a  139% rise
  • Discounting clubs, societies and reps, our volunteer numbers have increased from 340 to 1,482 – a 335% rise
  • In representation our reps have gone up from 720 to 1,319 - up 83%
  • The Career Development Module participants have gone up from 12 to 161 – a 1,240% increase!
  • We’ve helped over 6,000 students through our Student Advice Service
  • NUSU won 'Students' Union of the Year' at the Educate North Awards 2016 

Since Karen started we have introduced new programmes such as Give it a Go, Go Play, Hall Sport and Inclusive Sport;  started the widening access work through bursaries and the Into Schools programme; added an evidenced based research function to support officers in their representative roles; hosted a national event for NUS in the House of Lords; expanded our work and influence into London Singapore and Malaysia; introduced the new leadership programme; and created a social media presence – now 28,000 people follow us on Facebook. The list just goes on and on.

Karen has seen the whole building close for refurbishment, all the staff decant into a few pokey offices on the edge of campus and then return and rebuild the commercial offering.  She’s seen us expand into the Kings Road Centre, expand our social learning facilities and watched NRS and NUTV go from nothing to something.

She’s seen the building flood twice!  She’s attended board meetings in the scotching heat, hail and snow. And most memorably was seen stood below the arches in the pouring rain after the fire alarm went off during one Board meeting, with water flowing around her ankles during a flash flood!

The life of a Students’ Union can never be described as dull and we hope she has enjoyed joining us on our journey for the last 8 years.  It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster at times, especially in the early days, but we believe we now have one of the strongest Students’ Union in the country and she has very much played her part in getting us here.

The staff and officer teams have really appreciated her input and candour, over the years, and particularly her help in providing media training to help prepare officers for their roles.

It just remains to thank her for everything she has done and wish her well on all of her future adventures.  Thank you Karen!


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