De Montfort University has named its next vice-chancellor, who at the age of 43 will be the youngest in the sector. Dominic Shellard, who is currently pro vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, will take over the post when Philip Tasker retires this summer. Professor Shellard, who pointed out that he will also be one of the few openly gay vice-chancellors in the sector, said his aim at De Montfort was to "develop its strategic vision and ensure that students and staff don't focus too much on the trenches". He warned that if higher education institutions chose to focus purely on the economic situation, they could end up "drifting from funding letter to funding cut announcement to general election without retaining their core values". He added that his experience in politics as a councillor for Rotherham's Boston ward from 1999 to 2003 had persuaded him that "a house divided against itself is a weakened house", and warned that the recent "sniping" between mission groups over funding was "a gift to politicians who want to question our resources". Professor Shellard began his academic career in 1993 as a lecturer in English at the University of Salford, and he was appointed head of the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Sheffield in 2004. He is an expert on postwar British theatre and on the theatre criticism of Harold Hobson and Kenneth Tynan.
A musician at the University of Chichester has been lauded for his work on a project far removed from the stereotypes of fusty academia: a computer game soundtrack. Stephen Baysted, senior lecturer in music and music technology, was nominated for a Golden Reel Award, billed as the "Oscars of the gaming industry", for his work on Shift, the latest instalment of the Need for Speed racing-game series. "I have always been very interested in cars," he said, adding that his wife would say that his interest verged on "obsession". While studying for a doctorate in music at the Dartington College of Arts (which has since merged with University College Falmouth), Dr Baysted focused on composition for film and television. Then, in 1999, he and a group of friends decided to set up their own company, Simbin, to design computer games. The result has been a string of successful releases and the Golden Reel nomination. The awards ceremony took place in Los Angeles on 20 February. Although Dr Baysted did not win, he said he was particularly pleased with the nomination, "especially as it is usually very difficult to quantify impact in this field".
An academic with a longstanding interest in Poland has been appointed honorary patron of the Association of Polish Entrepreneurs and Companies UK. Jo Carby-Hall, director of international legal research at the Centre for Legislative Studies, University of Hull, said his interest began with a visit to the country in 1986, which left him shocked by the poor living standards endured by ordinary Poles. This interest led to further visits - often on airlines that he said were "prone to crashes" - during which he distributed items that would be considered basic necessities in the UK. When the manager of his local chemist asked why he was buying so many female sanitary products, she was so impressed by Professor Carby-Hall's explanation that she gave him the next two consignments for free. As part of his work as an honorary consul at the Polish Consulate's Branch for Scientific and Educational Co-operation, Professor Carby-Hall has authored a highly respected report about the discrimination faced by Eastern European migrant workers. Having worked as a legal adviser before moving into higher education, he said that job satisfaction was more important than financial reward. "Money is not happiness. I enjoy my academic endeavours," the scholar said.
Equality Challenge Unit
The Equality Challenge Unit has named David Ruebain its new chief executive. Currently director of legal policy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Mr Ruebain said that the appointment will afford him "an exciting opportunity to drive forward the equality agenda in a way that makes more sense for the times we live in". Highlighting the differences between the higher education sectors in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he said that he would use his time at the helm of the ECU to examine whether devolution has been adequately taken into account by the work of the organisation. Mr Ruebain observed that the higher education sector had a crucial role to play in the fight for a fair society. "Higher education is, in many respects, a centrepiece of any society that wants fairness and equality," he said. "If it is showcasing best practice in terms of equal opportunities for students, then the domino effect throughout society (could be) enormous." He added: "I am looking forward to moving from a role where I am thinking and strategising about the law to one where I get to put it into practice."
OTHER CHANGES ...
Ron Patton, professor of control and intelligent systems engineering at the University of Hull, has been made a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Myra Bluebond-Langner has been appointed to the UK's first chair in palliative care for children and young people, in a joint appointment by the University College London Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Howard Chase has been named head of the School of Technology at the University of Cambridge.
Markus Vinzent has been appointed chair of the history of theology at King's College London.
Andrew Martin, director of the Scottish Centre of Tourism at The Robert Gordon University, has been appointed chair of Moray Tourism Development.
Nicola Burnip has taken up the post of placement officer at Newcastle University Business School.
A Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has been set up to report to the Food Standards Agency. Chaired by Ann Prentice, director of the Medical Research Council's Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research, its members are: Susan Lanham-New, reader in nutrition, University of Surrey; Julie Lovegrove, reader in nutritional metabolism, University of Reading; Harry McArdle, deputy director of science, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen; Hilary Powers, professor of nutritional biochemistry, University of Sheffield; Angus Walls, professor of restorative dentistry, Newcastle University; and Ian Young, professor of medicine, Queen's University Belfast.
Brendon Noble has been named head of the School of Health, Science and Social Care, University Campus Suffolk.