The leading Russell Group institution announced that Sir Keith O’Nions, formerly rector, would immediately assume the newly created position of president and rector. It added that the search for a candidate to fill the post of provost had begun.
Under the plans, which have been approved by Imperial’s governing body, Professor O’Nions will have oversight of all functions at the institution, but will also have greater responsibility for Imperial’s external affairs in the UK and overseas, focusing on building connections with alumni, governments and industry representatives.
The provost will be charged with advancing and delivering the college’s “core academic mission”, including education and research.
“In changing the leadership structure we can place more emphasis on strengthening our relationships with those who share our vision of the importance of higher education,” said Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, chair of Imperial’s council. “We need to promote more assiduously Imperial’s reputation, to knit together our extensive network of alumni, to raise funds to secure the future, to cultivate our ability to influence and to work in partnership with governments and other institutions.
“Doing so will allow Imperial to maintain its position as one of the world’s top universities. We have to be imaginative and flexible both to take advantage of the opportunities we have and to overcome the difficulties we face.”
Professor O’Nions added: “This model is well established in many of the world’s leading universities, most notably in the US.”
The new provost will report directly to the president and rector, and together they will have responsibility for the strategic direction of the institution. At the end of May, Imperial will also start looking for a new president and rector to replace Professor O’Nions, who is retiring in 2013.