The University has today appointed a new Vice Chancellor, as Sir Keith Burnett retires after more than a decade in the role.

Professor Koen Lamberts will take up the University’s highest office in November, having been Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of York since 2014.

Deputy vice-chancellor Prof Gill Valentine will lead until then.

The announcement comes following a lengthy appointment process involving staff, stakeholders and alumni and students, including the outgoing and incoming SU officers.

In an email to all students Tony Pedder OBE, Chair of the University of Sheffield Council, said Lamberts “has a long and exemplary track record as a visionary leader in global higher education…a new leader true to the mission, values and ethos of our University.”

So, who is Koen Lamberts?

The cognitive psychologist, renowned for his research into human perception and memory, and has been influential among Russell Group and the northern N8 Research Partnership.

Lamberts, 54, said he feels “enormously privileged” to take up the position.

Burnett’s legacy

Keith Burnett has retired as Vice-Chancellor, to be succeeded in November. Photo: N8 Research Partnership

Burnett has been Vice-Chancellor and President of the University since 2007, during which time he was knighted in the New Year Honours for services to science and higher education.

“I feel enormously privileged to be appointed as your University’s next President and Vice-Chancellor”

The renowned Physicist, awarded a CBE for his work in 2004, is a Fellow of the Royal Society and has worked with businesses, government and other universities in his work.

Related: Sir Keith Burnett announces retirement

Professor Lamberts was delighted with his appointment: “I feel enormously privileged to be appointed as your University’s next President and Vice-Chancellor.

“Sheffield is known across the world for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of its research and teaching, and for being a university which speaks fearlessly for the value of international scholarship to transform lives for the better.”

Mixed opinions

Students and SU officers were heard chanting for Keith Burnett to speak out in support of staff pensions (picture: Ewan Somerville)

Burnett was praised by many students for fearlessly expressing views about the marketisation of education on the national stage. He was also known for establishing a close relationship with China, attracting many Chinese students to Sheffield and recently hosting the Chinese Ambassador to the UK on a visit to the city.

However, there were also angry scenes in Sheffield when the Students’ Union and hundreds of students assembled in protest during the recent UCU strike against Burnett for initially failing to speak out against the proposed pension reforms.

Criticisms were also levelled at him for claiming £50,000 in hotel and travel expenses in a single year, on top of his £420,000 salary.

Burnett was an active member on the boards of the Russell Group and N8 during his time as Vice-Chancellor

Lamberts was also found to be claiming over £16,000 in flight and hotel expenses in 2016, £2,000 more than his claim the previous year.

SU look towards ‘strong partnership’

Lillian Jones, the incoming President of the SU said: “Sheffield Students’ Union, with the support of the University has been continually recognised over the past 10 years, as the best in the UK.

“I am looking forward to working with Professor Koen Lamberts in developing this strong partnership to truly enable the SU’s role of ensuring our students have the best university experience.”

Looking ahead to his new role, Lamberts said: “I am committed to working with colleagues to further enhance Sheffield’s reputation as a global university which strives to solve society’s greatest challenges at the same time as upholding its proud history, guided by its founding principles.

“I am very much looking forward to meeting you when I join the University in November and working together with your Students’ Union to provide you with the highest quality of education, an outstanding student experience and the knowledge and skills to flourish in your future career.”   

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here