Director of the British Antarctic Survey, Dame Jane Francis is a pioneering scientist whose study of fossil plants and their use as tools for climate interpretation is recognised internationally. Jane read Geology and completed a PhD at the University of Southampton. From 1979 to 1982, she continued her studies as a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Bedford College, London before taking up a position as a palaeobotanist at the British Antarctic Survey from 1984 to 1986. She worked at the University of Leeds from 1991 to 2013, the last five as Dean of the Faculty of Environment. Among her many awards, Jane was the recipient of the Polar Medal in 2002 – which has also been awarded to Captain Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton. In 2017, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) for services to polar science and diplomacy.

A Cambridge graduate, David Gray worked as a partner for Hepworth and Chadwick in Leeds between 1982 and 2000 (Hepworth and Chadwick was renamed Eversheds in 1997.) He took on a full-time management role as Managing Partner for Eversheds North in 2000 and in 2003 was appointed Managing Partner and Chief Executive for Eversheds. He became Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council (the University’s governing body) on 1 August 2013.

University Executive Group

Membership of the University Executive Group (UEG) comprises the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Executive Deans, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Financial Officer and the University Secretary. 

Simone Buitendijk is the thirteenth Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, a major Russell Group University with a commitment to high quality education, a strong and dynamic research base and a track record of social, economic and cultural development. Before joining the University, she was Vice-Provost (Education) and Professor of Maternal and Child Health at Imperial College London.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu serves as a ‘standing deputy’ for the Vice-Chancellor; provides oversight and coordination of the University’s academic strategy and its planning and delivery; and leads on the University’s international strategy. He also holds the role of Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering.

Professor Nick Plant leads on the development of the University’s research and innovation strategy, creating a research culture and environment which delivers high quality research and impact for the region and beyond.  

His brief includes promoting partnerships in a number of key sectors, accelerating collaboration across a wide range of academic disciplines and driving recruitment of world-leading academics.  

Professor Jimack leads on our overall education strategy, ensuring the University attracts, excites and retains high-quality students from a wide range of backgrounds.

His brief includes implementing innovative measures to ensure that students benefit from an outstanding education and excellent all-round experience, widening participation, promoting teaching excellence and innovation, and further boosting the employability of the University’s students.

Professor Jimack was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering between 2010 and 2019 (Executive Dean and member of the University Executive Group from 2015) and was a pro-dean for three years before that. He has considerable experience of providing effective and strategic academic leadership at the highest levels within the University, across a range of issues.

Professor Morris leads on our overall digital transformation strategy, supporting the University to achieve its strategy to be a globally leading digital university. His brief is cross-cutting, and spans student education, research and the operations of the University.

He leads initiatives to enhance the blended, hybrid and online education and experience of our students, and provide lifelong and professional learning opportunities for learners globally, through oversight of the Digital Education Service.


As University Secretary, Roger is responsible amongst other things for providing advice and support to the Council, Senate and their committees; corporate governance, including ethics; overseeing and co-ordinating the University’s response to changes in the external regulatory framework; policy and compliance in relation to Freedom of Expression and Prevent; student discipline, complaints and appeals; policy and investigatory responsibilities in relation to whistleblowing, bribery and corruption, and allegations of misconduct in academic research; legal services and legal compliance, including GDPR and Freedom of Information; protocol, including graduation ceremonies and other major University events; and overseeing the management of critical incidents (including student emergencies).

He is responsible for the University's Communications department and is currently overseeing HR and Wellbeing, Safety and Health.

Jane Madeley is the University’s Chief Financial Officer. She has responsibility for Finance, Strategy & Planning, Risk Management and Purchasing across the University. Jane’s role also includes developing the University’s commercial relationships with industry, commerce, public-sector partners and education and research partners at home and abroad. 

Dennis joined the University of Leeds in 2002 as Director of Residential and Commercial Services and was appointed as Director of Facilities Management in 2009 & then Director of Campus Development in 2018. In 2021 Dennis was appointed as Interim Chief Operating Officer.

Dennis is accountable for every aspect of the University’s operations, ensuring that all activities are properly aligned with the University’s Strategic Plan to enable its key imperatives of student education and research and innovation. 

Leading our Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, Andrew Thorpe has one of the broadest humanities portfolios of all UK research-intensive universities. He is Professor of Modern History at the University, and a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Higher Education Academy. He was previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Exeter. His main research interests are the history of British politics in the 20th and 21st centuries, the history of party (notably the Labour Party), and international communism.

Karen is Professor of Exercise Science in the School of Biomedical Sciences. She previously held the post of Head of School and is a Fellow of the American College of Sport and Exercise Medicine. Her research interests include using exercise and physical activity to enhance fertility and to ameliorate the impact of reproductive ageing upon cardiovascular disease in women. Her research integrates the disciplines of medicine, exercise science, cardiovascular science and fluid dynamics.

A Professor of Operational Research, Julia holds various leadership roles in her research community including Vice-President of the European Association of Operational Research Societies and a member of the research panel for the UK OR Society. Her research focuses on developing optimisation models for logistics and transportation, where she has worked with manufacturers, transport providers and the public sector. Before becoming Executive Dean, Julia held the post of Deputy Dean in Leeds and Deputy Head of the Business School at the University of Southampton.

A graduate of King’s College London and the University of Cambridge, Alastair Mullis is a professor in the School of Law at the University. He has been Head of the Law School since 2013 and was previously Head of Law at the University of East Anglia. His research interests lie in the fields of tort law, especially defamation and related wrongs, media law and aspects of international commercial law. He has been a visiting professor in universities in Europe, the Middle East, North America and South East Asia and is an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple.

Andy is a Professor of Environmental Sustainability. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Member of The British Soil Science Society. He has developed research approaches that integrate a range of disciplines including soil science, ecology, development studies and environmental social sciences and has led inter-disciplinary research projects across African drylands.

Nora is the first Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University, which builds on existing strengths in eight schools and draws heavily on the University’s membership of the Henry Royce, Rosalind Franklin and the Alan Turing national research institutes. Professor de Leeuw was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor (International & Europe) and Professor of Computational Chemistry at Cardiff University, where she also led the Doctoral Academy. She is Professor of Theoretical Geochemistry at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and was a Visiting Professor of Biomaterials at Université de Paris-Est in France. Professor de Leeuw is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, an elected Fellow of The Learned Society of Wales and elected Member of Academia Europaea.

Professor Mark Kearney is Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health. He is also a British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular and Diabetes Research and clinical cardiologist with an interest in the mechanisms underlying diabetes related heart disease and the natural history and new treatments for patients with heart failure. His research group includes members with a wide range of skills addressing the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. His team are working on the link between changes in insulin and IGF-1 signalling in the blood vessel wall and diabetes with the aim of designing new ways of treating the devastating cardiovascular complications of type 2 diabetes.