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Role and region were the big draw for new Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

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Having spent almost 20 years at the University of Warwick, Mike Shipman was looking for an exciting new opportunity. After taking up his position as our new Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost last summer, Dialogue Magazine caught up with Mike to find out more about him and what attracted him to Durham and the role.

Why did you choose Durham?

Having worked at other Russell Group universities, I knew of Durham’s excellent global reputation and notable strengths in research and teaching. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost role looked especially interesting and the more I learnt about Durham University the more I wanted to join its community.

I have two daughters studying medicine in the north - one at Edinburgh and the other at Newcastle. So, moving north means I will be closer to them – at least for a few years!

As a family we’ve had many happy holidays in Northumberland. We especially love walking in the Cheviot Hills.

What are your priorities?

The role is incredibly varied. My immediate priorities are around improving our financial sustainability - growing and diversifying our income.

I am also responsible for helping deliver the capital plan and implementing the refreshed University Strategy 2017-2027.

Building on and enhancing our global reputation, especially for research excellence, is another high priority.

Since taking up the role I have visited every academic department, a number of colleges, and most of our estate – including Queen’s Campus at Stockton, Boldon House, as well as NETPark. I’ve also hosted degree congregations and attended Lumiere.

What do you think of the area?

I first visited Durham in 1989 as a PhD student. It was part of a programme to provide careers advice to PhD researchers.  Little did I know I would be returning 35 years later.

I’ve had little chance to explore the city and wider area yet as I’m still in the process of relocating to the North East. But I have been in the Castle, the Cathedral, the Norman Chapel and enjoyed walking by the river – they are spectacular. Durham is a lovely city. Once I’ve relocated, I’m looking forward to exploring Durham, the County and region more.

What do you see as the University’s role in our region?

As a university we have a crucial role to play locally and regionally - developing partnerships, skills and innovation. I’m really keen to help develop this work.

We also have a great opportunity to work with the new combined authority on Tyneside – the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) – and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family and hill walking. I also enjoy eating out at good restaurants and would really welcome some recommendations for restaurants in the city!

To let Mike know about your restaurant recommendations please leave your suggestions in the comments below the article.

Mike’s career history:

  • BSc and PhD in Chemistry from Imperial College before undertaking NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship at Colorado State University, USA.
  • First academic position at Loughborough University in 1992 where he became a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry. Four years later he joined the University of Exeter as a Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry.
  • Moved to Warwick University in 2003 as a Professor of Synthetic Chemistry. Promoted to Head of Chemistry in 2010 where he led on the Research Excellence Framework. In 2015 he was promoted to Chair (equivalent to Exec Dean) of the Faculty of Science, and then Chair of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Also led a major science transformation programme.
  • In 2019 appointed to Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International). Before and after the pandemic he travelled extensively including visits to Asia, Southern Africa, South America, Australia and widely across Europe to develop research partnerships and transnational education.



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