Professor Shearer West is the seventh Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Nottingham, taking up office on 2 October 2017.
Professor West is a Professor of Art History and has held a number of significant leadership roles in universities and higher education. She obtained her BA degree in Art History and English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and her PhD in Art History at St. Andrews.
Following her PhD, Professor West worked as an editor for the Grove Dictionary of Art before taking up her first academic post at the University of Leicester. In 1996, she moved to the University of Birmingham as Head of the History of Art Department, then Head of the School of Historical Studies, and Acting Head of the College of Arts and Law. She was awarded a personal chair in 2000.
In 2008 Professor West was appointed Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council where she also chaired the Research Directors Group for Research Councils UK. She was appointed Head of the Humanities Division at Oxford in 2011, where she oversaw the launch of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities. She was appointed Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield in 2015.
Professor West joined the University of Nottingham as Vice-Chancellor and President in October 2017, publishing the institution’s new University Strategy in December 2019. She is currently a member of the Universities UK Board to help deliver its mission to maximise the higher education sector’s positive impact for staff, students and the public, through the highest quality teaching, research and scholarship. She is also a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a member of the Independent Schools Governing Body of King Edward’s Foundation, Birmingham.
Professor West has authored and edited many articles and nine books including Portraiture, The visual arts in Germany 1897-1940: Utopia and Despair, and Fin De Siecle: Art and society in an age of uncertainty. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Historical Society, and has held two visiting Fellowships at Yale University.
Professor West also has a number of international roles, most recently acting as main panel chair for the national research assessment exercise for Humanities in Norway and serving on the steering group to introduce impact into the Excellence in Research (ERA) exercise in Australia.
She has also represented the UK on the Science Europe Humanities Scientific Committee, and has been a jurist for the Spinoza Prize in the Netherlands and the Odysseus and Solvay prizes in Belgium, as well as an Advisory Board member for the Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Vienna.
Biography and interests
She grew up in a small town in south-west Virginia, where her father was a factory floor supervisor and mother a high school teacher, and was the first in her family to attend University. Professor West is a strong advocate for the UK's outstanding cultural offering, in particular classic music concerts, theatre, opera, museums and galleries; is an avid reader of contemporary fiction and non-fiction; and enjoys running, swimming and cycling.