Professor Allison was educated at Northallerton Grammar School. He gained a BA in Geography from Hull University and was awarded a Ph.D. from King’s College London. In 1986 he was appointed as the Addison Wheeler Research Fellow at the University of Durham.
After a period as a lecturer at University College London, he moved to the University of Durham, becoming Professor of Geography in 1999. He also served as the University’s Head of the Department of Geography and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health.
In 2006 he joined the University of Sussex as Pro Vice-Chancellor, eventually becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Allison was appointed as Loughborough University’s Vice-Chancellor and President in 2012.
Of his award, Professor Allison said: “The award of a CBE has come as a complete surprise. Throughout my career in higher education I have had the good fortune to work with many talented people, who have supported me and been central to any personal achievement.
“This is particularly the case at Loughborough University, where I am privileged to have delightful colleagues and students. They have given much to the University in recent years and without their contribution to our success this recognition would have never come my way. I owe them much and shall always be grateful.”
Christine Hodgson, who is chair of Loughborough University Council (the organisation’s governing body) and Senior Pro-Chancellor, added: “I am delighted that Bob has been recognised in this way for his outstanding contribution to education and in particular to Loughborough University and its student community.”
During Professor Allison’s tenure at Loughborough, the University has risen into the top ten in every national newspaper league table and has been named University of the Year five times. He has overseen a period of significant expansion at the institution, with the establishment of the University’s London campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the development of the Science and Enterprise Park on the Loughborough site.
Professor Allison has been a driving force behind the Loughborough student experience, which is widely recognised as the best in the UK. He champions the students’ involvement in activities that enable them to make the fullest contribution possible to society and is an enthusiastic supporter of Loughborough sport.
Alongside his role as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Allison holds a number of external appointments. For example, he was the Higher Education (HE) representative of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ Enterprise Education Expert Group, the international HE adviser to the Minister for Education in Brunei, is a member of several speciality groups within Universities UK (the collective group for the country’s HE institutions) and is a member of the national Advisory Committee on Degree Awarding Powers.
He is also on the Board the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), Honorary Canon Professor of Leicester Cathedral, a governor of Loughborough Endowed Schools, Trustee of the Oval Learning Trust, and Vice President of Leicestershire Scouts.
Professor Allison is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the British Society for Geomorphology. During his career he has received several honours and awards, including the Cuthbert Peek Award from the Royal Geographical Society, the Charles Lyell Award from the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Jan De Ploey Prize from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Most recently, he was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
In related news, the University’s Executive Director of Sport, John Steele has also been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to sport. Read the press release here.