The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2012 were presented during a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane in London.
Prizes in 15 categories, recognising everything from departmental administration to ICT initiatives and from fundraising to procurement, were awarded to universities from across the UK.
The main award, for Outstanding Leadership and Management Team, went to Queen Margaret, the first Scottish university to take the accolade.
Judges singled out the institution’s remarkable financial turnaround and the “charismatic leadership” of its principal and vice-chancellor, Petra Wend, as reasons for its success.
After a necessary relocation to a new campus in 2007, Queen Margaret found itself facing severe financial pressures. As a result, it had to grapple with considerable deficits, low staff morale and fears for the future.
The judges praised the manner in which the management team had, since Professor Wend’s arrival in 2009, rectified the situation by overseeing an institutional restructure, updating governance mechanisms, tightening financial controls and delivering a “refreshing” vision and mission.
Consequently, targets set by the university for 2015 have already been met, including a financial surplus in its latest accounts.
Ewart Wooldridge, founder and chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, said Queen Margaret’s “rich narrative” of change “was underpinned by hard evidence of success, including elevating the university to 14th place in the UK for student applications per undergraduate place”.
Other winners included the London School of Economics, which took the prize for Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year; Swansea University, honoured for its Outstanding Human Resources Team; and Queen’s University Belfast, recognised for its Outstanding Fundraising Team.
John Gill, editor of Times Higher Education, said the awards had provided “extraordinary examples of creativity, commitment and sheer hard work” in the sector.