17 May 2022
The University of Hull
This morning, the University of Hull has announced that it has invited me to become its next Vice-Chancellor, starting on 1 September 2022. In the UK system, the Vice-Chancellor is the most senior academic and administrative officer of the University – a role that is not dissimilar in some ways to that of CEO in industry, but of course it is important to remember to be an academic.
It will be an enormous honour and privilege to take on this role. The University of Hull, located in the city of Kingston-upon-Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was founded in 1927, and thus is the 14th oldest university in England. It is a campus based institution that provides an excellent student education. It has a very strong research pedigree across a wide range of disciplines. Through the appointment process I have been immensely impressed with the students and staff that I have met – they are passionate, ambitious and kind, with a real desire to make the world a better place. The university motto is Lampada Ferens, which translates to ‘carrying the light of learning’. The wonderful university community exemplifies that spirit.
I want of course to pay tribute to the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Susan Lea, who will step down in August. She has led the University through the challenging times of the last few years with skill and dedication. It is the aim of all Vice-Chancellors to leave the institution in a strong position, ready to take advantage of opportunities. There is no doubt that Susan has done so. She has been instrumental in creating a University that provides a rich student experience, that is strong in research and that is supporting the region to flourish. She will be much missed.
Looking forward, I’m hugely enthused by the range of opportunities that lie ahead for the University of Hull. The new strategy focuses on providing a world class education, on increasing research strength and on work with partners. Underpinning this is a strong commitment to social justice and to sustainability. The University of Hull has committed to move to being carbon neutral for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2027. This typifies the ambition of the institution.
This means of course that I will leave my current institution, the University of Sheffield. I have been here since November 2016, serving through that time as Vice-President and Professor of Geography. I have loved being at Sheffield, and will depart at the end of August with an real sense of sadness. It has been the happiest five years of my career. The university community has achieved so much in that time, and it has been wonderful to play a small role in that. I will write more about my time at Sheffield in due course, but let me say thanks to my colleagues and to the students here. You are amazing.
Finally, I should say something about this blog. I have been writing about landslides here for almost 15 years – I started in December 2007. Whilst I recognise that a move to being Vice-Chancellor will mark the end (or at least a suspension?) of my research, my intention is to continue to write here regularly. This blog links me to my original academic discipline, and I remain deeply committed to the reduction of losses from landslides. I will of course write in my own time, before the start of my working day. And I’ll continue to enjoy my interactions with all parts of the landslide community.
And so I will now start the process of moving to the University of Hull in a little over three months. I do so with a sense of excitement and anticipation. It will be a huge honour to take up the role.