New Vice-Chancellor appointed for University of Exeter

Professor Lisa Roberts will be taking up the post of Vice-Chancellor in September 2020 following the retirement of Professor Sir Steve Smith. Lisa joins Exeter from the University of Leeds where she works as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation. In this role, Lisa leads the university’s research and innovation strategy and has led a step change in the income, quality, and impact of world-leading research carried out at Leeds, including the recruitment and development of world-leading academics Lisa has been pivotal in developing strong business and civic partnerships in a number of key sectors and has fostered a culture of interdisciplinarity to tackle major societal challenges.

Lisa said: “I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, and I am looking forward to building upon the considerable strengths in education and research which have been firmly established over a number of years under the leadership of Professor Sir Steve

Smith. I am particularly excited about working together with the tremendously talented staff and student community across our campuses, and engaging with our civic and international partners to tackle the challenges we face collectively within the region and across the world.”

Members of University of Exeter community recognised in New Year’s Honours

Work including international diplomacy, improving GP services, supporting research into dementia, and protecting the environment, have led to awards for Exeter staff and alumni.

Just some of the individuals honoured include, former University of Exeter Chancellor Baroness Floella Benjamin who has been made a Dame for services to charity; and honorary graduates Steve Backshall (English and Drama, 1992), given an MBE for services to charity and to wildlife conservation, and Professor Dame Sally Claire Davies, awarded the Order of the Bath for services to public health and to research.

Alumnus and supporter Sir Dennis Gillings (PhD Mathematics, 1972, pictured right) has been awarded a knighthood for services to the advancement of dementia and to life sciences research. Alumna Dr Anne Grant receives an MBE for services to charity, while Helen Reddy gets a British Empire Medal for services to educational gymnastics, and alumnus Michael Lock receives an OBE for services to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Amongst Exeter staff, Professor Jane Elliott was awarded a CBE for services to social sciences; John Campbell, Professor of General Practice and Primary Care, has been awarded an MBE for his outstanding contributions to primary care of patients and improving GP services; and Jamie Shea, formerly NATO Deputy assistant secretary, and now Professor at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute has been made a Companion of the Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for his services to diplomacy and public service.

University declares an environment and climate emergency

The University of Exeter has declared an environment and climate emergency to support those calling for urgent action and show commitment to leading the change required.

A climate change panel has been set-up to determine how the university can reduce emissions and improve the environment. Led by Professor Juliet Osborne, the panel has recommended cutting long-haul air travel by 50%, increasing recycling to 70% and halving plastic and paper use – all by 2025.

It also says the university should be carbon neutral by 2040 in terms of activities it directly controls (such as university vehicles and campus electricity) and by 2050 – or sooner – in indirect emissions (such as those associated with waste and products purchased).

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Steve Smith said: "The environment and climate emergency is undoubtedly one of the critical issues of our time and a significant priority for the University of Exeter in terms of our research, education and global strategies.

“We have some of the best teams anywhere in the world working on climate change and the environment. Our scientists and experts in a wide range of subjects are showing leadership and courage presenting the evidence and potential solutions, influencing governments, businesses and communities.

“We know though that we need to go further and faster, and we have been inspired by our staff, students and community to ensure we grasp the opportunity – indeed obligation – to show greater leadership on the climate emergency facing all of us.”

New centre of excellence on the Penryn Campus

A new £12.4 million state-of-the-art research facility has been opened in Penryn.

The new building, named after the pioneering Cornish scientist Stella Turk, MSc, MBE (1925-2017), will help tackle global challenges by bringing together scientists, engineers, lawyers, energy and business experts with a focus on policy change, and applied and fundamental research.

Officially opened on 27 February, it houses more than 250 researchers, working across disciplines. It provides capacity for the Exeter Business School and Law in Cornwall, as well as the university’s outstanding teams in renewable energy and energy policy, ecology and conservation, and geology. This increased collaboration across research disciplines will facilitate discoveries reducing the global burden of pollution and improve future environmental and human health.

The Garfield Weston Foundation donated £250,000 to help fund a ‘Collaboratory’ within the Stella Turk Building.

£6 million award to expand diabetes research excellence at Exeter

A £6 million Government award will enable Exeter’s globally-renowned diabetes research to expand to the next level, enabling even more benefit to patient care.

The award to the University of Exeter, working in partnership with the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, is designed to take areas of research which are excellent yet relatively small, and enable them to build to the next level.

Diabetes is one of the world’s greatest health challenges, affecting 400 million people and accounting for 10 per cent of NHS budget spend.

World-leading stem cell researcher appointed new Director of Living Systems Institute

One of the world’s most influential and renowned stem cell researchers has been appointed as the new Director of the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute.

Professor Austin Smith FRS joins from the University of Cambridge’s Stem Cell Institute, which he founded in 2006. He previously served as Director at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Genome Research, which he transformed into the Institute for Stem Cell Research. Professor Smith is a Medical Research Council Professor, a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), and a Fellow of the Royal Societies of Edinburgh and of London.

Business School accredited by prestigious international body

The University of Exeter Business School has joined an elite group of international institutions to achieve the coveted “triple crown” accreditation status.

Following a rigorous assessment process, the Business School has gained accreditation from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), based in the United States.

Having already gained accreditations from EQUIS and AMBA, the Business School has now officially gained triple accreditation - also known as Triple Crown accreditation - granted by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation organisations worldwide.

This prestigious triple accreditation is only held by fewer than one hundred business schools globally – less than one per cent – placing Exeter among the very best worldwide.

Plans for a pioneering new research and teaching building on campus revealed

North Park is a new research and teaching building that is planned to be built on Streatham Campus, adjacent to the Amory Building.

The first phase of the project will open in 2023, providing space to grow ground breaking research in areas such as global sustainability, data science and AI, star and planet formation and improving the resilience of water and waste systems here in the South West and beyond. It will also enable the university to deliver a vision of future learning at Exeter, improving the student experience and putting Exeter at the forefront of modern, digitally enhanced learning.

The new facility is being designed to be open to everyone, where academics, students, our external partners and the public can come together to collaborate, innovate and be inspired by research and education.

You can view the plans for the building and find out more about North Park at

Record-breaking athlete, award-winning author and celebrated environmentalist honoured by Exeter

Eleven new Honorary Graduates joined our Exeter family during graduation this summer, along with five in the winter ceremonies.

They are:

  • Professor Chunli Bai, chemist and an expert in nanoscience
  • Professor Dame Mary Beard, DBE, FSA FBA, author, presenter and Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge (pictured)
  • Dr Elena Becker-Barroso, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet Neurology
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge, award-winning journalist and bestselling author
  • Dr Howard Fillit, Executive Director and Chief Science Officer at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
  • Teresa Gleadowe, renowned art curator and founder of CAST (the Cornubian Arts and Science Trust)
  • Karime Hassan, Chief Executive and Growth Director at Exeter City Council
  • Richard Hughes, MA (Oxon) FCA, former member of University Council

Exeter celebrates being only UK city to be awarded UNESCO City of Literature status

Exeter has become the only new place in the UK to be awarded prestigious UNESCO City of Literature status, joining 65 cities across the world to become part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The recognition comes from a joint bid from people and organisations across the city – including the University of Exeter, which hosts the archives of works connected to famous writers such as William Golding, Ted Hughes, Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier and Sir John Betjeman.

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture at the University of Exeter said: “It is absolutely wonderful that Exeter has been recognised in this way for its rich heritage of culture.

“The UNESCO City of Literature status celebrates not only the rich variety of cultural and creative activities that are crafted and cultivated in Exeter, but also the close collaboration between so many people and organisations to ensure Exeter strengthens its flourishing arts and culture reputation not just in the UK, but across the world.”