The University of Leicester has announced the appointment of its new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, to succeed Dr Kenneth Edwards who retires next year.

Professor Burgess, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, will formally take up the appointment at Leicester on October 1, but will serve as Vice-Chancellor Designate during the month of September, 1999.

Professor Burgess, who is 51 years of age, is currently a member of the senior management team at the University of Warwick and chairs many University committees. During his distinguished career at Warwick, he has also been Chair of the Department of Sociology, Chair of the Faculty of Social Studies and founding Chair of the very successful Warwick Graduate School. He continues to serve as the Director of Warwick's Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research.

He also holds many prominent positions at a national level. He is a Council Member of the Economic and Social Research Council, chairing a number of that body's committees, and is the Founding Chair of the UK Council for Graduate Education.

Professor Burgess said that he is looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead: "It is a great privilege to lead the University of Leicester into the new Millennium. Leicester staff work at the leading edge of a range of subjects including archaeology, biomedical sciences, economic and social history, English local history and space science. It has the seventh largest postgraduate population among UK universities engaged in research and vocational training. High quality programmes are delivered on campus and to over 5,000 distance learning students. As a consequence it has a huge potential locally, nationally and internationally. It is, in my view, a very exciting prospect."

Welcoming Professor Burgess's appointment, the Chairman of the University's Council, Mr John Foster, OBE, said: "During the appointment process we have been most impressed by the depth of Professor Burgess's insights into the strategic issues facing the University at this time, by his lucid analysis of the current higher education environment and the impact of present trends upon this University, and by his firm and determined approach to the management of governance of the institution. I am sure that he will prove a distinguished Vice-Chancellor, and a worthy successor to Dr Edwards."

Dr Edwards commented: "I am delighted by the appointment of Professor Burgess. I have known him for a number of years at a national level and have recently worked closely with him on the proposal to set up the Joint Leicester/Warwick Medical School. He comes to Leicester with a very wide experience of universities and I know he will be extremely sensitive to the mission and ethos of Leicester University."

Professor Burgess is a graduate in Sociology from the University of Durham and gained his PhD in Sociology from Warwick University. He is a past President of the British Sociological Association and has published widely, including 30 authored and edited books and 100 papers in books and learned journals.

His research interests have been concerned with the development of social research methodology, especially ethnographic and case study methods. His recent work has been concerned with studies of higher education in Britain and Europe, with projects that include an analysis of 18 UK universities and a range of institutions in 10 European countries.

For more information, please contact Leicester University Press Office: Ather Mirza, Director of Press and Public Relations Office, on 0116 252 3335.


  1. Professor Burgess is the University's fifth Vice-Chancellor.
  2. Dr Edwards has served as Vice-Chancellor since September 1987 and will retire next year after 11 years of distinguished service during which he also served as Chairman of CVCP, the body that represents all UK universities. Dr Edwards has recently been appointed to Chair the Association of European Universities, an international body of 500 European universities in 40 countries.
  3. Leicester University was established as a University College in 1921 and was granted a Royal Charter establishing the independent University in 1957. The University is world-renowned for the discovery of the revolutionary technique of DNA genetic fingerprinting and it houses the biggest University-based space research group in Europe.
  4. Former Principals of the University College are R F Rattray (1919-31); F L Attenborough (1932-51); Sir Charles Wilson (1952-57).
  5. Dr Edwards' predecessors as Vice-Chancellor of the University are Sir Charles Wilson (1957-61); Sir Fraser Noble (1962-76) and Sir Maurice Shock (1977-87), all of whom also served as Chairmen of the CVCP.
  6. The Vice-Chancellor is the chief academic and administrative officer of the University and discharges a role analogous to that of a company's chief executive officer.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman, ara@le.ac.uk
Last updated: 07 May 1999 14:52
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