Exeter University announces new vice-chancellor

Prof Lisa Roberts will be the first woman to lead the institution

The University of Exeter has announced its new vice-chancellor and the successor to long-serving incumbent, Prof Sir Steve Smith.

Prof Lisa Roberts, who is currently deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, will take up her role at Exeter in September 2020.

She will be the first woman to lead the university, which received its royal charter in 1955.

Currently responsible for research and innovation at Leeds, Prof Roberts was previously executive dean of the faculty of health and medical sciences at the University of Surrey. Roberts is a professor of virology and helped launch the UK’s eighth veterinary school during her time at Surrey.

Roberts is also a board member of the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s national voice for materials science research and innovation.

Before entering academic and undertaking her PhD at the BBSRC Institute for Animal Health, Roberts worked as a technical brand manager for Procter and Gamble in the UK and Belgium.

On her appointment, Roberts said: “I am particularly excited about working together with the tremendously talented staff and student community across our campuses, and engaging with our civic and international partners to tackle the challenges we face collectively within the region and across the world.

“Through strengthening our interdisciplinary and international approach to research, and by providing outstanding and innovative education in partnership with our students, we can all contribute to shaping a successful future as a leading global university”.

Her appointment was welcomed by student groups, with Students’ Union president Joe Rigby commending her commitment to the university’s climate emergency agenda and Cornwall campuses.

The university has recently planted hundreds of trees at two of its campuses as part of the Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback.

Grounds staff worked with student volunteers at the Streatham Campus in Exeter and the Penryn Campus in Cornwall to plant the trees, which included birch, oak, rowan and cherry.

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