Leslie Wagner has been telling headhunters for a while that he is not interested in another vice-chancellorship when he retires from Leeds Metropolitan University in August. But when he was asked to be the interim chair of the new Learning and Teaching Academy, he found the challenge irresistible, he says.
Between now and January, when the agency comes into operation, Professor Wagner hopes to soothe the concerns of the three learning agencies that will be morphed into the new academy. He will try to find a way to please everyone from the Learning and Teaching Support Network, the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and the staff development agency Hesda. Each has its own constitution and ethos and is fearful of losing its influence.
While stressing that his desk at LMU is still "very full of paper", Professor Wagner will begin developing a strategic role for the academy right away. His involvement will be stepped up after he leaves LMU.
Professor Wagner began academic life as a lecturer in economics at the Open University. He moved to become head of economics at the Polytechnic of Central London, and then secretary of the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education, before gaining his first vice-chancellorship at the University of North London in 1987.
He chairs the University Vocational Awards Council and the Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning Group of Universities UK. He was the Labour parliamentary candidate for Harrow West. In June 2000, he was awarded the CBE for services to higher education and the Jewish community.
Although he may be retiring from LMU after nine years, Professor Wagner is not yet ready to disappear into his garden. He was recently installed as chancellor at Derby University.