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Welcome Shearer – our seventh Vice-Chancellor and President

We are delighted to welcome Professor Shearer West, the seventh Vice-Chancellor in our University’s history and the first woman to hold this important role - who takes up office today, 2 October 2017. 

An academic art historian, Professor West has held a number of significant leadership roles in universities and higher education – including, most recently, as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield.

Growing up in a small town in south-west Virginia, USA, she was the first person in her family to go to university. She studied for a degree in Art History and English at the College of William and Mary and so began a life-long love of culture and the arts. After undertaking a PhD in Art History at St Andrews, Professor West worked as an editor for the Grove Dictionary of Art before taking up her first academic post at the University of Leicester.

Message for alumni 

Professor West said: “As the incoming Vice-Chancellor of this great University, I can affirm that we value our alumni for their many engagements with us as lifelong friends, mentors to our current students, generous donors, and for the advice and opportunities they provide to our staff and students. In my previous leadership roles, I found engagements with alumni from all walks of life one of my favourite activities. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can”.  

Publications and international roles 

She 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.

She 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. 

Biography and interests

Professor West 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. She 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.

Professor West will give an inaugural lecture in December where she will outline her vision for the future of the University. 

Alumni Relations

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