The University of Plymouth’s Vice-Chancellor will step down in September after nearly nine years at the helm. The current head, who recently celebrated a milestone birthday, conveyed the decision to retire to the university’s chair of governors and chancellor this week.
Having taken the reins in February 2016, the Vice-Chancellor has been pivotal in guiding the university through a period of notable changes and accomplishments, succeeding a predecessor facing controversy. Reflecting on the decision to retire, the leader stated, “This marks my ninth year at Plymouth and my 45th year in higher education, with a stint in the commercial world preceding that. It’s time for a change.”
The retirement announcement comes on the heels of the university’s return to profitability under the current leadership, marked by academic and infrastructural advancements. Noteworthy achievements include overseeing significant building projects, such as the £33 million renovation resulting in the Intercity Place health campus and the conversion of the Babbage Building into an engineering and design centre. However, the tenure also saw a restructuring phase between 2017 and 2019, resulting in job losses for 700 staff members as part of a cost-saving initiative.
Recent disclosures indicate a rise in the Vice-Chancellor’s total pay to £321,852, reflecting an increase of over £14,000. The upturn in income is attributed to the university’s financial recovery, boasting a pre-tax surplus of £13.4 million in 2023—a significant rebound from the £200,000 loss in 2022. The surge in income primarily stems from increased student numbers and international tuition fees.
The university’s annual report and financial statements reveal a basic salary of £264,484 for the Vice-Chancellor in the year ending July 2023—an increase of over £10,000 compared to the previous year. Including pension contributions, healthcare, and other benefits, the total remuneration rose from £307,921 to £321,852. The university justifies the increase, stating that the Vice-Chancellor’s remuneration aligns with the sector’s median, and the rise is consistent with other universities of a similar size.
Acknowledging the university’s achievements under the current leadership, the Vice-Chancellor noted, “It has been a privilege to work with talented colleagues at the university, executing Strategy 2030 and positioning the university strongly with major stakeholders. A new leader will have much to build on.”
The board of governors, led by the chair, will undertake a “lengthy and careful” process to select a successor. Expressing gratitude for the contributions made, the chair stated, “We extend our best wishes for a fulfilling retirement and bid farewell with a tinge of sadness. The university has made significant progress in recent years in teaching, research, and impact—both regionally and internationally.”
As the university bids farewell to its current leader, the search for a new figurehead begins, promising continuity of the positive trajectory set for the University of Plymouth. The upcoming academic year will provide opportunities to celebrate the achievements made under current leadership and anticipate the exciting developments that lie ahead for this esteemed institution.