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Appointments - 30 May 2013

Andy Orchard, University of Oxford

University of Oxford
Andy Orchard

The next Rawlinson and Bosworth professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford, a post once held by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, has described the position as the “dream job, the top job in the world”. Andy Orchard, currently provost and vice-chancellor of Trinity College, University of Toronto, is an alumnus of Oxford and was married in the city. “It’s Tolkien’s old job, so it carries a lot of cachet; and now that Elvish has left the building, there’s still stuff to be done!” he joked. “Tolkien was one of the reasons I got into English…because of his amazing lecture to the British Academy in 1936, ‘Beowulf: the monsters and the critics’. He was the first person really to think of Beowulf as a work of literature.” Professor Orchard will become a fellow of Pembroke College, and his office there was meant to be one used by Samuel Johnson, but “apparently the ceiling has collapsed”. Professor Orchard hopes to strengthen ties between the Oxford English Dictionary, the Dictionary of Old English (produced by the University of Toronto) and the Middle English Dictionary (University of Michigan Press). Defending the study of Old English and even more ancient forms of the language - which tend “to get cut off at the knees” - was another aim, he said. Professor Orchard studied and worked at the universities of both Oxford and Cambridge and has also held visiting professorships at University College London and the University of Connecticut. He was an adviser on the 2005 film Beowulf & Grendel.

Andy Dixon, Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (Crest)

Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (Crest)
Andy Dixon

The newly appointed director of GuildHE’s Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (Crest), a network designed to pool research expertise, said he was “delighted and flattered in equal measure” to have been offered the position. Andy Dixon, director of research and employer engagement at the University of Chichester, said that he hoped to build on the “great things” that have been achieved in the four years since Crest received its first funds from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. He added that his arrival came at an exciting period because the consortium was designing its new strategy. “Perhaps where I can make my mark is around facilitating new interactions between individuals and groups across Crest,” he said. As he saw it, the main aim of Crest was not maximising research income from Hefce - “although it is most welcome!” - but “more about reputation, demonstrating that inter- national quality research is produced at smaller and specialist institutions”. Dr Dixon studied at the University of Bradford for his undergraduate degree and at Imperial College London for his MSc and his PhD. Before Chichester, he previously worked at the University of Sheffield and also at Sheffield Hallam University.

Barbara Matthews, De Montfort University

De Montfort University
Barbara Matthews

The challenges that lie ahead for the new pro vice-chancellor and dean of art, design and humanities at De Montfort University will come as no surprise to her. Barbara Matthews, who said she was delighted and excited about the role, is currently director of theatre for Arts Council England, but she has been a member of the board of governors at De Montfort since 2010 and is also a member of the finance and human resources committee. She intends to build more connections between the institution and the creative industries and to use the significant investment in the faculty to create “world-beating facilities, inspirational work and talented students”. Having started in the theatre industry by working with the Old Vic and the Cheek by Jowl company, she acknowledged that the position would bring a lot of new experiences. She felt, however, that her time at the Arts Council had “enabled me to play a strategic role across the arts, including working with other funding bodies and universities”. Ms Matthews studied at Durham University and City University London.

David Savitz, Brown University

Brown University
David Savitz

The current chair of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Brown University has been named Brown’s new vice-president for research. David Savitz, who is professor of community health and obstetrics and gynaecology in Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School, will succeed Clyde Briant in September. In his new role, Professor Savitz will act as a primary advocate for research, facilitating grant applications, managing research support and reporting, providing a variety of seed grants for promising proposals, and coordinating intellectual property efforts including patents, licensing and business start-ups. “Since my arrival at Brown two and a half years ago, I have enjoyed an academic culture that values innovation, collaboration, teaching and engagement with the community beyond campus,” Professor Savitz said. After graduating from Brandeis University, he continued his studies at Ohio State University and the University of Pittsburgh for his master’s and doctorate, respectively. He began his career at the University of Colorado and has held positions at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Other changes

Sir Arnold Wesker, noted playwright, author and poet, has been awarded an honorary fellowship from the Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. In a career spanning five decades, Sir Arnold, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has produced 44 plays as well as essays, poetry, a novel and an autobiography.

The University of Essex has named two new executive deans: Todd Landman, for the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Graham Underwood for the Faculty of Science and Health. Professor Landman is currently professor of government and director of the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution. Professor Underwood is professor of marine and freshwater biology in the School of Biological Sciences.

The University of Leicester-based English Association inducted more than 20 new fellows from the literary and academic world at its recent annual general meeting, including household names such as novelist Hilary Mantel and poet and novelist Alan Brownjohn. Maureen Moran, president of the association and a former dean and head of department at Brunel University, was also made an honorary fellow for her outstanding contribution to the association and her academic career. Among others honoured were Amit Chaudhuri, professor in contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia; Robert Fraser, professor of English at The Open University; Lyndall Gordon, senior research fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford; and Juliet John, Hildren Carlile chair in English at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Martin Barstow, professor of astrophysics and space science in the department of physics and astronomy, pro vice-chancellor and head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Leicester, has been appointed the next president of the Royal Astronomical Society. He will take up the role in May 2014.

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