Professor Susan Lea has announced that she will step down as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull in August 2022, at the end of her five-year tenure. Professor Lea joined the University in August 2017 having held senior leadership roles at the University of Greenwich, and King’s College London.
During her leadership of the University, Professor Lea has driven and completed a successful major transformation which has seen the return of financial stability and sustainability as well as a significant improvement in quality, reputation and profile. This is evidenced in the University of Hull’s rapid rise back up the main university league tables, including being placed 53rd in The Guardian University Rankings, an improvement of 53 places from a low of 106th.
Professor Lea has been instrumental in cementing the University’s role as an internationally-engaged civic institution, with a dual focus on education and research. She has led the development of a clear and focussed strategy for the next ten years, with the vision of shaping a fairer, brighter future and becoming carbon neutral by 2027. She will work closely in partnership with George Garlick, Chair of Council, to launch the strategy in early 2022 and then will pass on responsibility for implementation to the next Vice-Chancellor once appointed.
Professor Lea, said: “I have been privileged to lead the University of Hull and continue to be extremely proud of the transformational impact we make to individual lives and society through our education, research and knowledge exchange. I have made the difficult decision to step down next summer at the end of my five-year tenure as I feel I have delivered what I came to achieve. It feels like the right time to think about handing the baton over to the next Vice-Chancellor who will take Hull on the next stage of its exciting journey.”
She added: “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved at Hull despite very challenging times. I would like to thank all the wonderful staff and students at the University and members of our University Council, along with our supportive partners and community. The University and our region have so much to offer; Hull really is a special place and will remain firmly in my heart.”
Professor Lea has steered the University in playing a significant role in tackling regional and global issues. In a region where 60% of neighbourhoods are classed as areas of low higher education participation, the University is placed in the top 20 for social inclusion and is 5th in the country for admissions from low participation areas (The Sunday Times Good University Guide). In 2019/20, 27.7% of new full-time undergraduate entrants to the University were from POLAR quintile 1 neighbourhoods, more than double the national average.
The global impact of the University’s research has continued to gain recognition, most recently with experts in low-carbon energy, flood resilience and sustainability presenting at the global COP26 climate summit. At a national level, the University’s research is improving health outcomes and addressing inequalities by enabling earlier detection of cancer, dementia and heart disease.
George Garlick, Chair of Council, commented: “Susan has done a tremendous job in leading the University through an incredibly challenging period within the Higher Education sector, not least carefully navigating us through the Covid pandemic.”
He added: “Through Susan’s vision and determination, the University has seen impressive increases in its rankings and has achieved a better than sector position in student satisfaction across undergraduate and postgraduate taught and research. Moreover, she has developed an ambitious strategy and a sustainable financial platform, which will provide the firm foundations for her successor to continue to build the University’s success and reputation. I am truly thankful.”
Having completed her five-year tenure, Professor Susan Lea plans to explore leadership and advisory opportunities in the Higher Education, charitable and public sector, with a focus on strong social justice and environmental values, which would benefit from the resilient purposeful leadership model she has developed.
The University of Hull will now begin the process of appointing the next Vice-Chancellor through a competitive search – a process within which Professor Susan Lea will play an active role. The University welcomes interest from leaders who share its values and vision for a fairer, brighter, carbon neutral future.