April McMahon to step down as Aberystwyth v-c

Former Edinburgh vice-principal faced criticism during her tenure but has enjoyed recent success

December 7, 2015

The vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University, April McMahon, has announced that she is to step down next year.

Professor McMahon, who said it was the “right time for someone else to come in”, will leave at the end of her five-year term in July.

She had faced widespread criticism from staff and students during much of her tenure, as the institution tumbled down the league tables and faced difficulties in recruiting.

Last year, a petition calling for Professor McMahon to resign attracted more than 1,000 signatures, and the University and College Union complained in 2013 that the institution was being run like a “dictatorship”, after two senior staff members were suspended.

But Professor McMahon responded by saying that it would take time to turn around “many years of under-investment”, and Aberystwyth performed more strongly in last year’s league tables.

In a statement announcing her resignation, Professor McMahon said she had given a “great deal of thought” to her decision, and that she was “immensely proud” of her record.

“It has been and continues to be a pleasure and a privilege to serve and lead this very special university, to work through the difficulties we have had to confront, but even more importantly, to encourage everyone to celebrate our many successes,” Professor McMahon said.

“There have been a lot of those successes lately, and I therefore feel very confident that the university is now firmly on the right track, making this the right time for someone else to come in and lead the next phase, and allowing me to think about my own priorities and next opportunities.”

Professor McMahon, who joined Aberystwyth from the University of Edinburgh, said that she would focus on external activities only, such as development and alumni work, from February.


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Reader's comments (2)

Another great loss for Welsh Higher Education and a familiar tale. A strong and able manager who was trying to turnaround a troubled organisation, forced out by an ultra-left wing union and local politics, savaged in the press with made-up stories and misrepresentations. The crises at Glyndwr, union attempts to force Julie Lydon out of USW, Colin Riordan at Cardiff attacked by a left wing local paper for daring to claim for a taxi fair, 3 of 7 Heads of College at Swansea University quitting in the same academic year after union pressure against them … any one who displays any leadership or tries to address the dire performance of so much of the Welsh academy is hounded out. If this carries on there won’t be any universities left in Wales at all, or at least not any of any standing.
Not really a recognisable interpretation from the front line. Prof. McMahon had some big problems to solve and was not without good ideas, but the best laid plans ... For many (not all, unfortunately), the trade unions were an important part of ameliorating the side-effects. Describing Aber TUs as "ultra-left wing" suggests a shortage of experience of unions!

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