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July 4, 2013

University of Portsmouth

Catherine Harper

The new dean of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth said she felt “passionate” about ensuring that graduates are prepared for employment in the widest sense in creative and cultural industries. Catherine Harper said she disagrees with the view that these areas are an “economic drain” on the country. “Moreover, the nation isn’t merely an economy. It’s a set of cultures, of social interactions, of politics and people. And the contribution to the economy, culture, society, politics and populace of the creative and cultural industries is what constitutes civilisation, I believe.” Professor Harper, currently dean of the School of Arts and Digital Industries at the University of East London, will join Portsmouth in September. She was originally a visual arts and textiles practitioner, specialising in public commissions, installation and performance, and has undertaken artist residencies in the Republic of Ireland, Canada and the Czech Republic. Had she not become an academic, she would probably be, she said, “a seamstress, perhaps a weaver again, and a novelist!” She has also held positions at the University of Brighton and the University for the Creative Arts. She studied for her undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Ulster.

University of Leeds

John Mowitt

“As I am a professor about to join the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, I hope you will not be surprised to learn that my immediate thought upon being offered the position was rendered in an image,” observed John Mowitt, who has taken up a chair in critical humanities at the University of Leeds and joins from the University of Minnesota. “Specifically, I was thinking of the Brian Dewan painting that serves as the cover art for David Byrne’s 1992 album, Uh-Oh. It depicts a theophany in which the Christian God appears as [a Snoopy-like cartoon dog]. The title, almost an aside or whisper, underscores the ambivalence of this manifestation. My immediate thought thus bore on the enormous challenge/opportunity ahead, on the anxiety one feels in the face of the hopes and expectations of others, and on the impish glee that accompanies success in an academic job market as tight as the current one. All this seemed signified in ‘uh-oh’.” Between his undergraduate degree and PhD, from Florida International University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison respectively, Professor Mowitt worked as a musician. However, an academic friend suggested that entering the professoriate might be an “intriguing path”. “He was right!” Professor Mowitt said. “If I were not working as an academic, I would be a drummer. And starving.”

Andy Peters, Scotland's Rural College

Scotland’s Rural College

Andy Peters

The new professor of international development and assistant principal international at Scotland’s Rural College said the position builds on “various aspects of my career to date”. “I did have one other thought,” said Andy Peters, “that at the age of 63, having been there once before in terms of a senior academic role [some time ago], it was like starting again…when I thought I’d left academia for good.” Professor Peters, who left his last academic role – as professor of animal health and production at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London – in 1998, has since worked in the animal health sector in the UK and abroad. He will lead SRUC’s strategy for increasing its research education, consulting activity and international profile. Although Professor Peters studied veterinary medicine at the Royal Veterinary College, he found that he was not keen on clinical work and returned to academia to complete a PhD at the University of Nottingham. “People thought it was a bit strange”, he said, as being a vet “seemed to be such a popular and desirable occupation”. But, Professor Peters said, “I always replied: being a vet is like any other job – 80 to 90 per cent routine and boring, 10 to 15 per cent really interesting. But the really interesting things tend to come in the middle of the night!”

University of Glasgow

Laurence Moore

The new director of the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow said he was honoured to have been selected. “The unit has carried the flag for social science and health, and [my predecessor] Dame Sally Macintyre has built up a fantastic team there,” Laurence Moore said. “The unit has been emblematic of the development of sociology in health. Under Sally’s leadership it has really developed the field of sociology and its application to health and well-being, much more broadly than just sickness and illness.” He said that he was keen to continue with initiatives begun by Dame Sally, namely looking at how to improve health through interventions that are not necessarily directly related to health policy. Professor Moore began his academic life as a geography lecturer at Swansea University after studying the subject at undergraduate and doctoral level at the University of Bristol. He held health-associated positions at the University of Bristol and, before joining Glasgow, was at Cardiff University, most recently as professor of public health improvement.

Other changes

Brunel University has appointed Nazir Afzal pro-chancellor. Mr Afzal, who takes over from Lord Lingfield this month, is currently a member of the university’s council and is a chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service.

The senior social worker who spearheaded reforms following the death of toddler Peter Connelly – known as Baby P – has received an honorary degree from Kingston University and St George’s, University of London. Dame Moira Gibb, the former chief executive of Camden Council who chaired the government’s Social Work Task Force, set up in 2009, has been awarded an honorary doctorate of science.

A University of Huddersfield lecturer has been named a Queen’s Nurse, the fourth time that someone from the institution has been awarded the title by the Queen’s Nursing Institute. Karen Adams, currently leader of the specialist community public health nursing programme at Huddersfield, said she hoped to use the appointment to boost awareness of the profession and its contribution to the health and well-being of families and communities in the UK.

Rama Thirunamachandran has been appointed vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University. Mr Thirunamachandran, who is presently deputy vice-chancellor and provost of Keele University, is to join Canterbury Christ Church in October.

The Monash-Warwick Alliance, a partnership between Warwick University in the UK and Monash University in Australia, has made its first three joint research appointments as part of a drive to tackle the global challenges of the 21st century. Two polymer chemists, Tom Davis and Sébastien Perrier, will join to work in the emerging field of nanomedicine. Adam Lee, whose work bridges the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering, has also been appointed.

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