The chair of Universities Wales, Prof Julie Lydon, is finishing her term this month as the first female head of the organisation ahead of her pending retirement as the vice-chancellor of the University of South Wales.
Prof Lydon is succeeded by Prof Elizabeth Treasure, vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University. The chair represents the leadership of the ten universities in the country. During her tenure, Lydon has been central to voicing the sector’s opinions on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales.
Universities Wales paid tribute to Prof Lydon’s accomplishments, particularly with degree apprenticeships, flexible skills and start-ups, and governance reform. Lydon announced in September 2020 her intention to retire as vice-chancellor of USW. She also sits on the boards of Universities UK, University Alliance, Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), and the National Council for Universities and Businesses (NCUB).
After leaving a career in industry, Lydon moved to leadership roles at Wolverhampton University, the University of the West of England, Bristol, and the University of Glamorgan. As the inaugural vice-chancellor of USW, she oversaw the merger of Glamorgan with the University of Wales, Newport, in 2013.
“It is always fulfilling to be the first to break a glass ceiling, but my greater pleasure is that others have now followed,” said Lydon. “It’s now seen as usual for women to lead Welsh universities, as well as FE colleges and the national conservatoire. That’s a very positive trend, and I look forward to it continuing.”
The sector in Wales was “determined to keep [students’] learning going during truly unprecedented disruption, with universities as institutions facing tremendous challenges”.
She added that “the leadership, knowledge and insight that universities bring to the collective response across our communities really matters”.