New University of St Mark & St John appoints first vice-chancellor


Released: 29.01.13



Professor Cara Aitchison has been appointed as the first vice-chancellor and chief executive of the University of St Mark & St John (Marjon). Plymouth's new university is one of ten highly regarded University Colleges to be awarded university title.

Professor Aitchison is currently Head of Moray House School of Education and Chair in Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Edinburgh, and was previously Dean of the Faculty of Education and Sport at the University of Bedfordshire. Professor Aitchison takes up the position at the University of St Mark & St John in May. 

With a formidable academic record, she is one of the world's most prominent scholars in the field of leisure and tourism. Highly respected by her peers, Professor Aitchison is appointed by the Higher Education Funding Council to chair the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) Panel for Sport and Exercise Sciences,Leisure and Tourism. She is a prolific author of books, articles, policy reports and international keynote presentations, and has a personal and passionate commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and widening participation.

Professor Aitchison is no stranger to the South West having previously held a chair at the University of the West of England in Bristol, where she was director of the Centre for Leisure, Tourism and Society. She says of her return, “I consider it a great privilege to be appointed as the first vice-chancellor of the University of St Mark & St John. Following the government's recent announcement of its support for small universities the future is bright for Marjon.

With a175-year history and a strong reputation, underpinned by the inherent values of a faith-based institution, Marjon is already established as a leading provider of innovative education programmes and an outstanding student experience. I look forward to returning to the South West and to leading new developments that strengthen the University's regional responsiveness and global reach.”

During the period since the departure of the previous principal, Marjon has been in the capable hands of acting principal, Karen Cook. Dr Juliet Williams CBE, chair of the Governing Body, congratulated Karen Cook and her team on their commitment and dedication, and said of the new vice-chancellor, “We are delighted to have attracted Professor Cara Aitchison to lead our new University into the next chapter in its long and distinguished history. Our ambition is to take our hidden gem of an institution into the spotlight, becoming the exemplar among smaller universities offering an outstanding student experience. Professor Aitchison is a first-class choice and has the passion and purpose to realise our ambitions.”

Of the UK’s 134 member universities of Universities UK, there are currently 18 female vice-chancellors – a representation of just over 13 per cent.


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