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The University of Southampton

Professor Michael Butler appointed Southampton Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Published: 16 November 2020
Professor Michael Butler
Professor Michael Butler will become Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences from 1 January 2021.

Professor Michael Butler has been appointed as the next Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Professor Butler succeeds Professor Philip Nelson who has served as Interim Dean of the Faculty since the departure of Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi for King’s College London earlier this year.

Well-known for his academic leadership and internationally-recognised for his research, Professor Butler will take up his role on 1 January 2021.

"It is an honour to be entrusted with the role of Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences,” said Professor Butler. “My work as Associate Dean has given me a great appreciation of the strength and breadth of the education, research and enterprise across our Faculty.

“I have seen how we responded to COVID-19 with impressive agility and creativity, highlighting our ability to work together to address the challenges we face as a community and a society,” he continued. “I look forward to working more closely with colleagues across the Faculty and University to ensure we continue to thrive.”

Professor Mark Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton welcomed Professor Butler’s appointment.

“I am delighted to announce that the next Dean of FEPS will be Professor Michael Butler. There was very strong competition from all over the world for this role which gives an indication of the regard the Faculty is held in internationally. Michael impressed the panel with both his vision for the Faculty and his description of his collegiate approach. I very much look forward to working with Michael over the next few years. I would also like to thank Phil Nelson for taking on the interim role and providing such excellent leadership in these uncertain times.”

Professor Philip Nelson added: “I am absolutely delighted that Professor Michael Butler is to take on the role of Dean of our Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. I have had the pleasure of working closely with Michael during the last year and have first-hand experience of his outstanding abilities. I know that this news is the outcome of a rigorous and highly competitive process and his appointment is a great result for both Michael and for our Faculty. I have no doubt that we will go from strength to strength under his leadership.”

As Professor of Computer Science, Professor Butler is renowned for his work in the area of mathematical methods for the design and verification of safe and secure software-based systems.  He has made key theoretical and methodological contributions to the Event-B formal method that enable it to scale to large complex systems. His many external collaborations with industry have focused on safety and security of computer-based systems with a range of companies including Thales (rail systems, autonomous systems), Hitachi (autonomous systems) and leading UK aerospace companies through the Aerospace Technology Institute (aerospace software).

Originally from County Tipperary in Ireland, Professor Butler completed his undergraduate degree at Trinity College Dublin before undertaking his MSc and DPhil at Oxford. After research positions in Dublin and Finland, he joined the University of Southampton in 1995 as a lecturer, rising to Reader in 2000 and then Professor in the same year.

Most recently, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Infrastructure in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and prior to that was an Associate Dean for Enterprise & Impact. He leads the UKRI Digital Security by Design HD-Sec Project and works as part of the Southampton team supporting the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub .

He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, was Chair of the International Federation for Information Processing Working Group WG 2.3 on Programming Methodology from 2013 to 2019 and is on the Editorial Board of several journals including Formal Aspects of Computing, International Journal of Critical Computer-Based Systems and Software Tools for Technology Transfer.

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