Appointments - 11 July 2013

July 11, 2013

British Institute of International and Comparative Law
Jan van Zyl Smit

An academic expert on reforms to the judiciary in states undergoing constitutional change has been made a research fellow of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Jan van Zyl Smit joined the institute from Oxford Brookes University, where he was a senior lecturer teaching public law and international human rights law. He said he wanted to play a part in raising public awareness in the UK and abroad about rule-of-law issues. “At the level of a slogan, almost everyone is for the rule of law, but it is sometimes controversial achieving it,” Dr van Zyl Smit said. He added that he was particularly interested in exploring questions about “cleaning up the judiciary after authoritarian rule” and intended to use current examples to inform his research. “Such reforms are a delicate exercise,” he said. “Unless exemplary standards of fairness are observed when determining which judges stay on, the danger is that the public will see it as a settling of political scores and the institution will be weakened further.” After studying at the University of Cape Town, Dr van Zyl Smit worked as a law clerk to the deputy chief justice at the South African Constitutional Court. He later became a Rhodes scholar and completed bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Oxford.


Middlesex University
Sonia Boyce

The renowned artist Sonia Boyce, who has joined Middlesex University as professor of fine art, said that “working with other people always inspires me” and “without exception” added an “element of the unpredictable” to her creative work. Professor Boyce, a British-born Afro- Caribbean artist, was one of the leading figures in the British Black Arts Movement in the 1980s and has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. Her early work addressed issues of race, gender and contemporary urban experience through large pastel drawings and photographic collages. Since the 1990s, her work has incorporated a wider range of media. Her scholarly research interests lie in art as a social practice and in the critical and contextual debates on collaborative, participatory and socially engaged art. “The pleasures and challenges of working collaboratively, as well as the often political nature of the subject matter, keep me engaged in continuing to work this way,” she said. Professor Boyce has taught fine art studio practice in numerous art colleges across the UK and served as director of the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive, a research centre at the University of East London. She studied at East Ham College of Art and Technology and Stourbridge College of Art.


University of Gloucestershire
David James

The deputy dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of Gloucestershire has been named dean of research at the institution. David James, who joined the university 16 years ago from the University of Brighton, said that it was a “real privilege” to lead Gloucestershire’s research strategy at such an exciting time for the institution internally and externally. He hoped “to better articulate the role of research in a learning-led environment and ensure our research aspirations and strategy are clear and focused…I also want to better promote existing research strengths and explore how we might work in partnership to develop our priorities.” Professor James said that becoming an academic was “never part of the grand plan”, but from the moment he first set foot on campus he had loved being part of the learning environment. Had he not gone into the academy, Professor James said, he would have “loved to be an astronaut”.


Charles Sturt University/La Trobe University
Kim Webber

Charles Sturt University and La Trobe University have announced the appointment of Kim Webber as executive director of the Murray Darling Medical School. Her appointment follows the institutions’ announcement of a tertiary education partnership to help ensure that communities in Southeast Australia have access to a range of services and to address the problem of a lack of doctors in rural areas. Dr Webber served as chief executive officer of Rural Health Workforce Australia, the national agency responsible for developing strategies to increase doctor and health professional numbers in such areas, so has hands-on expertise in the subject. “Many of our rural doctors are getting older and want to retire, but how can they when they can’t recruit a new doctor to replace them?” she said. “Relying on city-based medical schools to train doctors for rural areas isn’t working. We need a secure pipeline of students who will work in the regions after graduation.” She added that because Charles Sturt and La Trobe are the two largest providers of regional education in Victoria and New South Wales, their “capacity to deliver on this is impressive”. In her new role, Dr Webber will travel across the regions, consulting with rural doctors, regional health networks and communities to identify opportunities to expand clinical and medical training capacity to support rural students.

Other changes

Vasanta Subramanian, reader in biology and biochemistry at the University of Bath, has been elected fellow of the Society of Biology for her achievements in progressing stem-cell research. Her work has boosted understanding of DNA’s role in the development of the skeletal and nervous system.

A food security expert has been appointed professor of agriculture and climate change at the University of Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute. John Porter, a crop and plant processes specialist, also works at the University of Copenhagen.

An academic from the University of Central Lancashire is to play a leading role in shaping the training of the UK’s paramedics. Lizi Hickson, course leader for the diploma in higher education in pre-hospital care, has been appointed assistant director of professional standards at the College of Paramedics. She will carry out the three-year appointment in tandem with her work at Uclan.

The University of Westminster’s business school has named Spinder Dhaliwal director of postgraduate programmes and reader in entrepreneurship. Dr Dhaliwal joins from the University of Surrey’s business school, where she led its entrepreneurship modules.

Three academics at Orkney College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, have been recognised for their contribution to the institution. Donna Heddle and Jane Downes have been awarded personal chairs and Alexandra Sanmark has been made a reader. Professor Heddle is director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Nordic Studies based in Orkney and Shetland; Professor Downes is head of the archaeology department at Orkney College UHI and director of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology; and Dr Sanmark is a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Nordic Studies.

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