Sir Roy Anderson steps down as Imperial rector

When he returns to research, Sir Keith O’Nions will become acting rector. Melanie Newman writes

November 16, 2009

The rector of Imperial College London, Sir Roy Anderson, is stepping down after just over a year in post.

Sir Roy says in an email sent to staff on 16 November that he is resigning to concentrate on research.

“I want to return to my primary concern, which is my deep and abiding research interest into global health,” he says.

“All my working life I have been, and I remain today, a research scientist and a teacher with a very strong interest in the global problem of infectious diseases and their control.

“This requires me to maintain a broad range of external roles, and I will therefore continue with my international advisory work for both governments and leading public- and private-sector bodies around the world.”

Sir Roy, who served as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence under Tony Blair, took up the post of rector at Imperial in July 2008.

He will continue in the position until 31 December, after which he will return to his position as professor of infectious disease epidemiology within the faculty of medicine.

Sir Keith O’Nions, the director of Imperial’s Institute for Security Science and Technology, will take over as acting rector from 1 January 2010 until a new rector can be found.

Speaking on behalf of Imperial, Lord Kerr, chairman of the university’s council, said: “During his time as rector, Sir Roy has led the college through a challenging economic environment, has highlighted the economic and social value of research-intensive universities and has advanced Imperial’s interests by playing a full part in public debate about the future of higher education.”

Sir Roy’s was a controversial appointment. Nine years ago, a stint as Linacre chair of zoology at the University of Oxford ended in embarrassment when he resigned after having falsely claimed that a female colleague had slept with the head of zoology before gaining her post.

In the same year, he resigned as director of the Wellcome Trust’s Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases before two inquiries cleared him of financial impropriety but found that regulations had been breached and criticised his management.

In 2000, Sir Roy returned to Imperial, where he had spent much of his early career, along with an 80-strong research team, to lead the department of infectious disease epidemiology.

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