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The University of Southampton

Southampton announces new vice-chancellor

Published: 8 April 2019
Professor Mark E. Smith

Professor Mark E. Smith currently Vice-Chancellor at Lancaster University, has been appointed as the next President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton. The appointment follows a rigorous selection process undertaken by our Joint Selection Committee, and formally approved by the University Council. The Joint Selection Committee included members from Council, Senate, Professional Services and our Students’ Union. A high level of interest and applications were received from a range of very experienced candidates with an equal balance of women and men in the final stages.

Professor Smith embodies all of the key leadership qualities that we were searching for based on our detailed consultation with staff and students, in particular the ability to inspire, engage, and work with our University community.  These traits, coupled with his extensive academic and leadership experience, will ensure we can continue successful delivery of our strategy to build the University of Southampton’s reputation as one of the UK’s leading research universities, and to firmly establish us a world leader in education.

Subject to final arrangements we look forward to welcoming Mark at the beginning of the new academic year on 1 October 2019.

Professor Mark E. Smith commented,

“It is a tremendous privilege to be appointed the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton. I am very excited to be joining a university that is so committed in its vision and strategy to achieving dual excellence in its educational offering and research.

“As one of the most research intensive universities in the UK and recognised in the world top 100, it is an exemplar of an institution that can make a real difference to the world.

“There is also a clear commitment to collegiality, playing a positive role in the region and changing people’s lives for the better. All these resonate strongly with me and I very much look forward to meeting all the people associated with the University.”

Philip Greenish , Chair of Council, University of Southampton said,

“Professor Mark E. Smith will join our University with a track record of success in his leadership of Lancaster University and a deep understanding of the complex environment of Higher Education.

“More important than that, however, is his approach to leadership which is consensual, inclusive and sensitive to the needs and expectations of the student and staff community.  While he is a visionary leader, he has been very clear in his view that Southampton’s strategy and 10-year plan are right for us and that he will work with the whole University community to deliver them.  These are all attributes highlighted in the extensive consultation we held with staff and students before the search started.

“As Chair of Council, I greatly look forward to working with Mark as he leads the university to even greater success.”

Professor Mandy Fader, Academic Lead for the Vice-Chancellor Recruitment added,

“From the consultation with our community back in October came a big ‘ask’. We not only wanted an experienced, credible and respected academic, business-person and top-notch influencer, but we also needed an exceptional individual who could unite us, listen, motivate and engage us, understand and value all of us, and above all trust us as much as we would trust them.

“So, it was with an enormous sense of hope and relief that emerging from our penetrative, exhaustive (and exhausting) processes came a person who possesses all these qualities. Mark Smith we are downright delighted that you will become our new Vice Chancellor.”

Professor Rachel Mills , Dean, Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences and member of the Selection Committee added,

“Mark Smith is an international research leader in the field of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance; developing novel approaches for the study of inorganic materials. He has a prolific publication record and wide experience of industrial collaboration. He impressed the panel with his breadth and depth of understanding of the wider research and enterprise landscape and the range of opportunities for realising Southampton’s huge potential as a research intensive, civic university.”

Our students had a key role in the consultation process of identifying the attributes for our Vice-Chancellor and were represented by Steve Gore, Acting President, University of Southampton Students’ Union and member of the Selection Committee,

“On behalf of the Students’ Union, I wholeheartedly endorse the appointment of Professor Smith to the role of Vice Chancellor and President. Throughout our extensive consultation process the themes of accountability, honesty, and transparency repeatedly surfaced from students. Having had the pleasure to interview Professor Smith myself, I am certain that we have found ourselves a capable and seasoned leader who has met our brief and will be able to carry out his duties whilst connecting with students on a personal level.

“Not only does Professor Smith have a thorough insight of the challenges facing student experience at Southampton, but he also shown that he genuinely cares about this facet of the role. I have confidence that our students will see marked improvements in their day to day university experience from very early on, and I look forward to seeing the University continue to climb league tables under his leadership.”

A large proportion of our university staff play a significant role in supporting the academic mission of the University and they were represented on the selection panel.

Kerry Matthews , Director of Student Services and member of the Selection Committee provided her insight,

“Professor Smith impressed upon us the importance of everyone in the University working towards a shared, University-owned, strategy, where each member of staff understands their role and the importance in achieving their ambitions.  He also showed significant passion, experience and understanding of the value of a diverse University community.

“I am very much looking forward to working with our new Vice-Chancellor and believe this to be an exciting time ahead for Southampton under his leadership.”

New Vice-Chancellor’s remuneration

Notes to editors

  1. This appointment follows the retirement of Professor Sir Christopher Snowden on 8 March 2019.
  2. The University of Southampton drives original thinking, turns knowledge into action and impact, and creates solutions to the world’s challenges. We are among the top 100 institutions globally (QS World University Rankings 2019). Our academics are leaders in their fields, forging links with high-profile international businesses and organisations, and inspiring a 24,000-strong community of exceptional students, from over 135 countries worldwide. Through our high-quality education, the University helps students on a journey of discovery to realise their potential and join our global network of over 200,000 alumni.
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