University of Leeds appoints new president

Shearer West

Professor Shearer West has been appointed as the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Leeds, taking up the role from November 1, 2024.

Professor West is currently President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham, a role she has held since 2017.

“Under her leadership, the University of Nottingham’s research focus has emphasised interdisciplinary collaboration, culture, and innovation to address global challenges, excelling in fields such as global food security, sustainable energy, and new developments in ultra-high field MRI scanning technologies,” said the University of Leeds.

“The university improved its placing in each of the three key measures determined by REF2021 and was ranked 7th in the UK for Research Power.

“Improving students’ education and experience has been a feature of Professor West’s tenure at Nottingham, where she has overseen the development of state-of-the-art learning spaces, increased mental health support, collaborated on a student living strategy with local partners and enhanced initiatives to improve student employability and career readiness.”

West said: “I am delighted and honoured to be joining Leeds as its 14th Vice-Chancellor.

“I know that I am building on very firm foundations and feel extremely privileged to have been chosen to be part of an institution that is known for its global outlook, outstanding research, and commitment to an exceptional experience for its students.

“I am a strong believer in the value of a comprehensive university like Leeds that makes new discoveries across the full disciplinary spectrum and fosters different ways of thinking. Its values-led strategy aligns with my own leadership philosophy and view of higher education – to benefit society, the economy and quality of life for people at regional, national, and global levels.

“Leeds has nurtured Nobel laureates, leaders, opinion formers and prize-winning authors. None of these achievements would be possible without the collective talent, dedication, and creativity of its staff and students from all corners of the globe. I am keen to meet my new colleagues at Leeds and its many students, to listen and learn from them, as I become part of this exceptional community.

“I must also thank Professor Hai-Sui Yu for his continued excellent stewardship of the University as Interim Vice-Chancellor and President. I look forward to working with him, our University Executive colleagues, and everyone in the community as we embark on the next exciting chapter in the long and successful history of the University of Leeds.”

West was appointed following a global recruitment competition. The Council – the University’s governing body – approved the appointment following a unanimous recommendation from a panel chaired by the Chair of Council, Alastair Da Costa and consisting of members of Council, Senate, Leeds University Union, and the University Executive.

The current Interim Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Hai-Sui Yu will continue in role until October 31, 2024, when he will revert to his role as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor having led the University for a year.

Da Costa said: “I am delighted that Professor West will be joining Leeds as our next Vice-Chancellor and President, she has demonstrated the strategic vision, personal energy, and extensive leadership experience to guide our institution into the next phase of its success.

“Professor West has an innate understanding for how the highest quality research, innovation and student education can support a dynamic global outlook alongside an impactful contribution to our region and the communities that live within it. She also brings an astute perception of the ability of higher education to advance fairness and equality, within our own community and far beyond.

“I would also like to thank Professor Hai-Sui Yu who has led our institution and community throughout the intervening period with incredible skill, energy, and diplomacy. He has reinvigorated our approach to research, student education, staff engagement and strategic change and set the conditions for further success. I look forward to continuing to work with him in his interim role and thereafter as our excellent Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.”