Dear Colleagues and Doctoral Researchers
I am delighted to be able to let you know that earlier today, University Council (the University’s governing body) confirmed Professor Nick Jennings CB, FREng as the new Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University, succeeding Professor Robert Allison from the start of the next academic year.
Professor Jennings will join our University from Imperial College London, where he is the Vice-Provost for Research and Enterprise and Professor of Artificial Intelligence.
I thought it would be helpful if I shared with you detail of the work and activity that has gone into this rigorous search and appointment process. A joint Committee of Senate and Council was established in December 2020 to lead on the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor. The Joint Committee’s composition was:
- Chair of the Joint Committee - Christine Hodgson, CBE, Chair of Council and Senior Pro-Chancellor
- Lay Members of Council - Steve Varley, Jennifer Maxwell-Harris
- Members of Senate - Professor Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Head of Politics and International Studies. Professor Christopher Linton, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
- Co-Opted Member - Dr James Esson, Reader in Human Geography
- President of the Students’ Union - Matt Youngs
The Chief Operating Officer & Secretary to Council, Richard Taylor, acted as Secretary to the Joint Committee.
Throughout the recruitment process the Joint Committee’s discussions emphasised the importance of considering a wide field of candidates and appointing a candidate who would be credible in fulfilling the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) objectives and have a demonstrable track record of leading institution-wide initiatives in this key area.
The full Joint Committee met in-person to interview candidates, supported by two sub panels.
The first sub panel comprised:
- Professor Rachel Thomson (Chair), Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching)
- Andy Stephens, Director of Finance
- Professor Tony Edwards, Dean of Loughborough University London
- John Steele, Executive Director of Sport
The second sub panel consisted of:
- Veronica Moore (Chair), Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity and Chair of the EDI Sub-Committee
- Professor Andy Dainty, Dean of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
- Adèle MacKinlay, Director of People and Organisational Development
- Dr Fiona Ellis-Chadwick, Senior Lecturer in Marketing & Retailing
The Joint Committee asked questions a broad range of topics, including strategic vision, EDI, research and enterprise, internationalisation and international reputation, and student experience.
The sub panels supplemented these topics with further questions on specific areas of EDI, including race and gender equality, learning and teaching, sport, leadership style and staff wellbeing.
I am grateful to staff, students and alumni who took part in the extensive consultation process conducted throughout December 2020 and January 2021 to determine the most important qualities they would wish to see in a new Vice-Chancellor. The outcomes of the consultation were taken into account in the deliberations of the Joint Committee. A summary of those findings can be found here.
After nine very successful years under Professor Allison’s leadership the University is in excellent shape and poised well for the future. I’d like to thank Bob and all of you for your outstanding work – especially in the last challenging year. I am confident that Professor Jennings will build on these strong foundations to take the University to the next stage of its success.
Christine Hodgson CBE, Hon DUNiv
Senior Pro Chancellor and Chair of University Council
Professor Jennings Biographical Details
Professor Nick Jennings CB, FREng is currently the Vice-Provost for Research and Enterprise at Imperial College London, where he is also a Professor of Artificial Intelligence. He was the inaugural Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on National Security and previously the UK's first Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He is an authority in the areas of AI, autonomous systems, agent-based computing and cybersecurity.
Being the first in his family to go to University, he studied for an undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of Exeter and his PhD was from the Department of Electronic Engineering at Queen Mary, University of London.
Professor Jennings' research focus is on developing AI systems for large-scale, open and dynamic environments. In undertaking this research, he has attracted grant income of over £33M, published more than 650 articles (with over 400 co-authors) and graduated over 50 PhD students (including two winners and one runner-up of the British Computer Society (BCS)/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation Award.) He has over 85,000 citations in Google Scholar and an h-index of 127.
Professor Jennings was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to computer science and national security science. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the BCS Lovelace Medal in 2020, the ACM Autonomous Agents Research Award in 2003 and the Computer and Thought Award in 1999 for contributions to multi-agent systems.