January 22, 2009

The University of Bradford has announced the appointment of Geoff Layer as its deputy vice-chancellor (academic). Professor Layer will be responsible for the direction of Bradford's academic affairs and enhancing the student experience. Professor Layer joined the university in 1999, when he was appointed dean of the School of Lifelong Education and Development, and became pro vice-chancellor for learning and teaching in 2004. He said: "I am delighted to have been offered this challenging role as Bradford seeks to build on its recent successes and further establish itself as a leading university providing educational opportunity locally, nationally and globally."

BBC television presenter Robert Winston has been elected to the University of Surrey's university council, the governing body that oversees the institution's strategic vision and goals. Well known for his TV shows The Secret Life of Twins, Child of Our Time and the Bafta award-winning The Human Body, Professor Winston is currently professor of science and society and emeritus professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London. He has had about 300 publications featured in peer-reviewed journals on issues regarding reproduction and embryology.

Outstanding contributions to national and international scholarship have been recognised by the British Academy. The learned society has awarded five medals and prizes to academics in different fields of the humanities. Baroness Onora O'Neill, president of the academy, presented the awards. She said: "It is a great pleasure to recognise and celebrate such deep and diverse contributions to scholarship, ranging from the study of Italian opera to writing on our understanding of long life and death, from the study of apocalyptic traditions to that of the long prehistory of humankind, and even the use of money." The winners are: Richard Bauckham, professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Wardlaw professor, University of St Andrews; Michael Metcalf, emeritus professor of numismatics, University of Oxford; Paul Mellars, professor of prehistory and human evolution, University of Cambridge; Helen Small, lecturer in the English faculty, University of Oxford; and Philip Gossett, Robert W. Reneker distinguished service professor of music, the University of Chicago. Six postdoctoral fellows have been awarded publishing contracts in the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monograph series. They go to: David Beresford-Jones, University of Cambridge; Shane Doyle, University of Leeds; Martha Hammond, University of Oxford; Gianluca Raccagni, University of Cambridge; Helena Sanson, University of Cambridge; and Sarah Washbrook, University of Oxford.

The Student Loans Company, which administers financial support to higher education students, has a new chairman, John Goodfellow. He was chief executive of Skipton Building Society until the end of 2008 and was chairman of the Building Societies Association in 2003 and 2008. Universities secretary John Denham said Mr Goodfellow would "bring extensive experience of the financial services industry to the Student Loans Company" and help the organisation "face the future with confidence". Mr Goodfellow replaces Keith Bedell-Pearce.

De Montfort University has appointed two pro vice-chancellors. Vivien Lowndes, who joined the university's Local Governance Research Unit in the faculty of business and law in 1997, will focus on working with colleagues to drive the university's research strategy. An expert in local government, Professor Lowndes has served as a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee and was a member of the Council of Europe's high-level group on the future of democracy. Vicky Vass, former dean of the business, law and psychology faculty at the University of Sunderland, will oversee De Montfort's activities in the East Midlands, including its support for local businesses and community activities. Before joining Sunderland, Dr Vass held a number of senior academic posts in Scottish universities. Her research activities include the psychology of decision-making in the retail sector.

Denis Murphy has been invited to advise the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation on crop biotechnology. Currently based at the University of Glamorgan's faculty of health, sport and science, Professor Murphy will offer guidance on helping to improve crops to ease hunger and poverty in the developing world. He is also chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board's Biology Advisory Committee and an adviser to the British Government and European Parliament.

A centre providing budding entrepreneurs with information and guidance on starting new businesses has a new enterprise project manager. Iheanyi Ibe worked in the pharmaceuticals industry before changing tack to provide training and business support for businesses based in the South West. He will advise visitors to the Ideas Factory at the University of the West of England, which offers staff, students and alumni one-on-one confidential advice sessions with business advisers, networked PCs for research and meeting spaces to help bolster teamwork.

Meri Huws has been appointed director of innovation, skills and community at Trinity College Carmarthen, where she will aim to ensure that the college meets the social, economic and training needs of southwest Wales. She will also work to create a network of contacts between the college, local government and public bodies such as the police and health boards. Ms Huws' previous roles include a spell with the senior management team at the University of Dublin and head of the Department of Health Studies and Social Care at the University of Wales, Newport. Prior to joining Trinity College, Ms Huws was pro vice-chancellor at Bangor University and is also chairwoman of the Welsh Language Board.

Three heart specialists have been honoured by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Joining a group of 21 BHF chairs across the UK with the combined aim of advancing the prevention of heart disease are: Mathias Gautel, professor of molecular cardiology, King's College London; Bernard Keavney, professor of cardiology, Newcastle University; and Michael Schneider, chair in cardiology and head of cardiovascular science at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. The position of BHF chair is awarded to individuals with the ability to offer scientific and strategic leadership at an internationally competitive level, and offers financial and infrastructure support for ten years. Peter Weissberg, medical director of the BHF, said: "All three are highly respected researchers who I have no doubt will make crucial advances in our understanding of cardiovascular disease during their appointments."

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