“Reading takes us out of ourselves and takes us into someone else’s mind, soul and body, it has that power. It gives us access to the past and ideas about the future. It’s one of the most wonderful things that one can do with one’s time.” These are the thoughts of Belinda Jack, official student and tutor in French at Christ Church College, Oxford, who has been appointed the new professor of rhetoric at Gresham College, which hosts dozens of public lectures each year in London. In the first year of her tenure, Professor Jack will give a series of lectures on “The Mysteries of Reading and Writing”, beginning on 1 October with “What is reading?”. “Reading is something we take completely for granted as soon as we achieve literacy,” she said. “It’s a very strange business, as the experience of rereading a book can be one that makes you think the text’s changed when obviously you’ve changed in the interim. That’s one example of reading not simply being the decoding of a message.” Professor Jack studied at the universities of Kent and Oxford and has worked at the latter for the past 20 years. She said the audiences attracted by Gresham lectures are particularly appealing because they are a mix of scholarly peers and non-academics with a genuine interest in the subject. “Having to pitch what you want to say so as to be accessible to that range is a great challenge,” she said.
The newly appointed chief innovation officer at the technology service Jisc, Phil Richards, said he felt “excitement tempered by a degree of nervousness” when he was offered the position. “Jisc has set itself the very highest standards. The opportunity to help deliver that is inspiring, but also a significant responsibility,” he said. Dr Richards hopes to build a “coherent portfolio of technology-related new development projects, with ‘world class’ potential”. But he also said it was important to have fun. Resolutely “enthusiastic about technology and its impact”, he hopes to convey that enthusiasm to those around him. Dr Richards was previously director of IT at Loughborough University, head of ICT at Plymouth University and had roles at the universities of Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Hull and King’s College London. “IT is now the ‘engine room’ underpinning pretty well everything that goes on in universities,” he said. An advocate of e-learning, he nevertheless sees “human interaction” as key to education provision. “[It is] the product of tens of thousands of years of evolution, and clearly not easy to ‘reverse engineer’ or simulate,” he said. “Some of the best examples of e-learning I have seen are those that seek to optimise, rather than replace, the human element.”
Polytechnic Institute of New York University
A distinguished experimental physicist, Katepalli Sreenivasan, has been appointed to the Eugene Kleiner chair for innovation in mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). Professor Sreenivasan called Eugene Kleiner – who died in 2003 – an “entrepreneur of a high order”, and said he wanted to play an important role in creating a “stronger environment of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship”. He added that being in a position bearing the name of such an eminent engineer did not engender any extra pressure. “My belief is that if one always does as best as one can, there is no room for any pressure additional to the inbuilt one,” he said. “So I don’t feel anything extra. This said, I do want to do things that are commensurate with this distinguished benefactor, who also happens to be an alumnus of NYU-Poly.” Professor Sreenivasan, who is also president of NYU-Poly and dean of engineering at NYU, said his taste in mathematics and physics was acquired as he “figured out some things for myself”. If he were not an academic he would “almost certainly have been a writer”, he said. “I wrote poetry and essays when I was younger, and still feel at one with myself when I write something interesting.”
University of Manchester
Paul Coulthard is to become the new head of the School of Dentistry at the University of Manchester. Professor Coulthard, who is also professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Manchester, combines his academic roles with being an honorary consultant and clinical lead for oral surgery at the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He said his mission would be to maintain the school’s position in the UK and to further develop its teaching and research successes. “The school is in excellent shape with an outstanding reputation for undergraduate and postgraduate education and a strong research profile,” he said. “We will continue to deliver teaching and learning using contemporary and innovative methodology to produce caring healthcare professionals who are of the highest calibre.” Professor Coulthard has a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as a PhD, from Manchester. As a practising clinician and academic, he believes he has a unique opportunity to improve patient care quality because his own research and ready access to the research of others can be applied to society.
The University of Dundee has announced three appointments in its history department. Jim Livesey, Graeme Morton and Annie Tindley join the institution as professor of global history, professor of modern history and senior lecturer in history, respectively. Professor Livesey is a former head of history at the University of Sussex and Dr Tindley is an expert in the history of the Scottish Highlands who joins from Glasgow Caledonian University. Professor Morton moves to Dundee from the University of Guelph in Canada, where he was head of the Centre for Scottish Studies, the first privately endowed chair of Scottish studies in North America.
King’s College London has made two appointments to its Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery and the new Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment. Christine Norton has been made a Florence Nightingale Foundation chair in clinical nursing practice research and Declan Murphy, head of the department of forensic and neurodevelopmental science at the Institute of Psychiatry, has been named inaugural Dr Mortimer D. Sackler chair in translational neurodevelopment. He will also lead the Sackler Institute.
Dame Elish Angiolini, principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford and the first woman and the first solicitor to hold the positions of Lord Advocate of Scotland and Solicitor General for Scotland, has been installed as chancellor of the University of the West of Scotland.
The University of Salford has appointed Paula Barrow to the newly created role of director of marketing. Currently head of university marketing at the University of Manchester, Ms Barrow will be responsible for all corporate, student recruitment and web marketing activities at Salford and will head a new marketing and student recruitment directorate.
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