New senior leadership appointments


Appointments have been announced for two senior leadership roles supporting the University’s strategic ambitions.

Following an open international recruitment process, Professor Neil Morris has been formally appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation, having held the role in an interim capacity since last October. 

Professor Jeff Grabill will be joining Leeds from Michigan State University, USA, as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, on 1 August. 

Currently Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning and Technology at MSU, as well as Director of the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, Professor Grabill will take the reins from Professor Peter Jimack, who has served as the Interim DVC since last November. 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk said: “Neil has already made a huge difference since being in post, and I am thrilled that after a successful recruitment round, he has been formally appointed as the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation.  

“His experience, insights and vision will help our University to transform itself digitally and to become a global leader in the strategic use of digital technology for education and research – and ultimately to help solve global challenges through high-quality education, research and societal impact at scale.  

“I am also delighted that Professor Grabill will be joining us from Michigan State University, where he has built up a strong track record of academic leadership in student education. He has already demonstrated a passionate understanding of the aims of our strategy, particularly our ambition to reduce inequalities and implement a modern and evidence-based curriculum. He is a fantastic addition to the University's senior leadership team, who I know will help us to prepare for some of the complex and critical challenges facing the higher education sector.  

“I would like to thank Peter for all his continued hard work and support as Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education. The past year has been a difficult time for our students and colleagues and Peter’s leadership has been instrumental in supporting our community to ensure our students receive the high-quality education they deserve.” 

Delivering global impact 

Professor Morris directs Leeds’ strategic aim of becoming a globally-leading digital university. 

His brief includes steering the University’s digital operations and creating the Digital Transformation Strategy for operational activities, student education, research and innovation and internationalisation. 

I am deeply honoured to be able to continue to serve our students, staff and our global community through this appointment.

Professor Neil Morris, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation

He leads initiatives to enhance students’ blended, hybrid and online education and experience, and provide lifelong and professional learning opportunities for learners globally.  

And he provides a focus on harnessing the potential of digital technologies, data and digital approaches to enhance research activities, outcomes and impact and improve ways of working at the University.  

Professor Morris also holds the Chair of Educational Technologies, Innovation and Change. 

He said: “Leeds has been my academic home for nearly 20 years, and I am deeply honoured to be able to continue to serve our students, staff and our global community through this appointment.  

“I am passionate about the benefits that effective use of digital technologies, data and digital approaches can have to enrich our education, research and operations, and I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with colleagues and students across our community to deliver positive, impactful change and support our new University Strategy.” 

Professor Morris has extensive experience of developing and delivering strategy and policy in the area of digital education at Leeds, and has led the implementation of a large number of institutional digital education systems and initiatives. He has also led the growth and impact of our award-winning Digital Education Service. 

Extraordinary possibilities 

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, Professor Grabill will lead the overall education strategy, ensuring the University attracts, excites and retains high-quality students from a wide range of backgrounds. 

The 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 students' employability. 

I’m excited to join an institution so clearly leading in educational transformation.

Professor Jeff Grabill, incoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education

Professor Grabill said: “My conversation with colleagues at Leeds revealed a number of extraordinary possibilities beyond the fact that this is an exceptional university with a remarkable international reputation.  

“The new strategy’s values of collaboration, equity and impact are compelling and key to how we educate. Student education is fundamental to the strategy and the way we will make a positive difference in the world. I’m excited to join an institution so clearly leading in educational transformation.” 

In his current roles, Professor Grabill is responsible for helping MSU design and deliver distinctive and equitable learning experiences that lead to student success and help make Michigan State a top destination for students.  

As professor of rhetoric and professional writing, his research focuses on how digital writing is associated with citizenship and learning. He is also a senior fellow with University Outreach and Engagement and is a co-founder of Drawbridge Incorporated, an educational technology company. 

Leadership changes 

These latest appointments follow several other recent senior leadership changes, which saw Deputy Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu, also taking on the broader role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Professor Nick Plant appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation. 

Further information

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