Two vice-chancellor appointments announced

York St John and University of London name successors. Melanie Newman reports

December 4, 2009

Two universities have announced new vice-chancellors who will take up the posts in 2010.

David Fleming, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Sunderland, will succeed Dianne Willcocks at York St John University in April, and Geoffrey Crossick, warden of Goldsmiths, University of London, is to lead the University of London from September.

Professor Fleming paid tribute to the “remarkable” leadership of Professor Willcocks.

He said: “The context in which we are operating as a sector is complex and uncertain, but I believe the university is in a very good position to meet those challenges.”

Previously dean of the School of Built Environment at Northumbria University, Professor Fleming has also spent time in the private sector and is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Prior to his appointment, some staff at York St John expressed concern that a requirement that the new vice-chancellor had to be a member of the Church of England could limit the field of applicants.

Minutes from a council meeting in July note that the requirement was “seen as an impediment to the selection of the best possible vice-chancellor by some people”.

The minutes add: “The senior management team in particular feel strongly about this.”

The headhunting firm Heidrick & Struggles was appointed to track down suitable candidates, and Robin Hall, chair of governors and pro-chancellor of the university, headed the interview panel that selected Professor Fleming.

He said the new vice-chancellor “possesses that invaluable combination of vision with a proven record of strategic management developed from many years’ experience in academic and commercial sectors”.

Meanwhile, Professor Crossick has been appointed to take over from Sir Graeme Davies as vice-chancellor of the University of London in September 2010.

He said it was “a marvellous time to become vice-chancellor of the University of London”, adding: “I feel honoured to have been asked to take on the post.”

Professor Crossick, who has been warden of Goldsmiths since 2005, is a historian specialising in the social and urban history of Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

His academic career includes periods at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, the University of Hull and the University of Essex. Before joining Goldsmiths, he was chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Board. In March, Professor Crossick said he was leaving Goldsmiths because he wanted to contribute to “the cultural, arts and museum sectors, to higher education and policymaking”.

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