October 14, 2010

Robert Gordon University

Ferdinand von Prondzynski

Scotland is to get its first tweeting vice-chancellor with the appointment of Ferdinand von Prondzynski (@vonprond) at Robert Gordon University. The keen Twitter user, who was previously president of Dublin City University, said he will maintain an online presence in his new role, as he believed he could help the public to "understand the potential of universities in supporting society in economic, social and cultural development". Life could have panned out very differently for the German-born scholar. "I wasn't originally going to go to university at all," he revealed, "but after working in a bank for two years, I decided I did want to do a degree after all." Professor von Prondzynski graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1978 with a BA and an LLB, and attained a PhD in law at the University of Cambridge in 1983. He began his academic career as a lecturer in the School of Business Studies at Trinity, eventually becoming a Fellow of the college. After moving to the University of Hull in 1991, he held posts including professor of law, dean of the Law School, Jean Monnet professor of European social law and dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He became president of Dublin City in 2000, stepping down earlier this year. Professor von Prondzynski said he was attracted to Robert Gordon because of its ambition. "I'm not someone who would work well in such a role at a traditional university," he said."Traditionally thinking universities don't really have a strategic aim; they're more a loose collection of departments and individuals."

King's College London

Alastair Reid

King's College London has created one of the first UK professorships of history and policy. Alastair Reid, Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge, has been appointed visiting professor at King's Centre for Contemporary British History. His research interests include the history of trade unions and the Labour Party. He said: "Just as we routinely make use of our memories to guide our current actions, so knowledge of the past is clearly relevant to public policy. The question is whether that knowledge of the past will be properly historical, or whether we will be basing our decisions on false memories." Professor Reid added that the creation of the new role was important because historians were "still wary" about linking their research to modern-day problems, while those working in public policy may not approach information about the past as historians do. "Public debate is full of references to the past," he said. "But it is usually seen too narrowly and too functionally as leading in a simple, linear way to the present; or alternatively packaged up in legendary, romantic ways as part of mythical group identities."

Central European University

Mel Horwitch

The Central European University has named Mel Horwitch dean of its Business School. Professor Horwitch is currently professor of technology management at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He started out as an undergraduate at Princeton University before studying for his master's and doctorate at Harvard Business School. During his career, Professor Horwitch has served on the faculties of Harvard Business School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, the Theseus Institute in France, and NYU-Poly, where, in addition to his current role, he has also been director of the Institute for Technology and Enterprise and director and Fellow of the Othmer Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. He said that he was a strong believer in the importance of interdisciplinary work. "I think that students should work in teams with students from other departments so we can work on critical problems facing the world," he said. "You can't solve these big problems unless you have government, business, not-for-profits, academics and experts together working on them." He added: "I have long believed that you cannot have a civil society without hope for the future, and that hope is based on growing opportunities for all."

Brown University

Wyclef Jean

Ready or not, here he comes: Haitian activist and hip-hop star Wyclef Jean is to join Brown University in the US as a visiting Fellow. Mr Jean, who failed in his bid to become president of Haiti, said he was looking forward to joining the department of Africana studies. He said his time at Brown would be "a period of learning and reflection". Although born in the Caribbean republic of Haiti, Mr Jean moved with his family to New Jersey in the US a young age. His musical breakthrough was as part of hip-hop group The Fugees, best known for their second album, the Grammy-award winning The Score. Mr Jean has also released eight albums as a solo artist, with a ninth due out later this year. Of his move into the academy, he said that he considered himself "a lifelong student". He added: "I appreciate this opportunity to contemplate all the potential and possibilities, as well as the contributions of my homeland, and Haitians in the diaspora, to the world's creative culture."

Other changes

The Academy of Social Sciences has conferred the award of academician on: Waqar Ahmad, deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise, Middlesex University; Richard Andrews, professor in English, Institute of Education, University of London; Martin Bygate, professor of applied linguistics and language education, Lancaster University; Lynne Cameron, professor of applied linguistics, The Open University; Julian Elliott, professor of education, Durham University; Karen Evans, professor of education, Institute of Education; Andy Green, professor of comparative social science, Institute of Education; Helen Gunter, professor of educational policy, leadership and management, University of Manchester; Martyn Hammersley, professor of educational and social research, The Open University, Peter Hannon, emeritus professor of education, University of Sheffield; Christian Heath, professor of work and organisation, King's College London; Scott Lash, professor of sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London; Peter Marsh, professor of child and family welfare, Sheffield; Richard Noss, professor of mathematics education, Institute of Education; Mark Olssen, professor of political theory and education, University of Surrey; Shirin Rai, professor of politics and international studies, University of Warwick; Michael Reiss, professor of science education, Institute of Education; Alistair Ross, emeritus professor of education, London Metropolitan University; Roger Scully, professor of politics; Aberystwyth University; Raymond Stokes, professor of business history and director, University of Glasgow; Graham Towl, professor of psychology, Durham; Georgina Waylen, professor of politics, Sheffield; Paul Webb, professor of politics, University of Sussex; Frank Webster, professor of sociology, City University London; Li Wei, professor of applied linguistics, Birkbeck, University of London; Michael West, professor of organisational psychology and executive dean, Aston University.

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