Cumbria chooses new v-c

The University of Cumbria has appointed a new vice-chancellor, following a period of turmoil in its leadership and finances.

February 4, 2011

Cumbria has given its top post to Peter Strike, currently deputy vice-chancellor (academic) at the University of Sunderland with responsibility for research, knowledge exchange and business engagement.

He is expected to start on 1 August, taking over from Graham Upton, who has been interim vice-chancellor at Cumbria since May 2010.

Professor Upton’s appointment came after the sudden departure of the previous vice-chancellor, Peter McCaffery. He left after less than a year in the job, amid suggestions that he was “mis-sold” the post by the university and not informed of the full extent of its financial problems.

At the time of his departure – a decision taken by “mutual consent” – the university’s deficit was expected to balloon to £30 million.

Cumbria was founded as a university in 2007, from the merger of several further education colleges across the region.

Professor Strike, who grew up in Cumbria, is a geneticist who has previously held senior posts at Northumbria, Edinburgh Napier and Liverpool universities.

He said: “Although the university itself is relatively new, many of its component parts have, for many years, played a major part in the cultural and economic life of the region. The challenge for me, and for my senior team, is to continue to build on this legacy, creating a vibrant institution of high academic merit that provides opportunities for all those who wish to benefit from the experience of higher education.”

Trevor Curnow, University and College Union branch chair, said that “things are starting to look more stable and less panicky” at the university.

“What’s very good about this appointment is that he is somebody with a background in Cumbria,” Dr Curnow said. “There is a local connection and local enthusiasm that will go down well.”

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