Senior lay officers and the executive
Professor Dame Jane Francis
Chancellor - DCMG
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.
Alastair Da Costa
Alastair has extensive leadership experience in the professional services sector and in the further and higher education sectors. In addition to his role as Chair and Pro-Chancellor of The University of Leeds, he is Chair of Capital City College Group, one of the largest Further Education providers in the UK; chair of digital education business 01Founders Limited; and he has served on the Councils of The London School of Economics and the University of Sussex.
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.
Professor Simone Buitendijk
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
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
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation
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 Jeff Grabill
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education
Professor Grabill leads 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.
As University Secretary, Jennifer is responsible, amongst other things, for providing advice and support to the Governing Body (Council), Senate and their committees.
Her work includes; corporate governance, ethics and reputation; overseeing the University’s response to changes in the external regulatory framework; legal services; policy and compliance including, Data Protection, Freedom of Information; Freedom of Expression, Prevent; Student discipline, complaints and appeals; whistleblowing, misconduct in academic research; Protocol, and oversight of the management of critical incidents (including student emergencies).
The direct reports of the University Secretary include the Secretariat, Policy, Funding and Regulation, Communications and Engagement, Risk Management, and Wellbeing, Safety and Health.
Chief Financial Officer - MBA ACA
Jane Madeley is the University’s Chief Financial Officer. In addition to her core responsibility for Finance and Purchasing, she has also led the development of the Strategy and Planning and Risk Management functions within 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.
Interim Chief Operating Officer
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.
Professor Andrew Thorpe
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures
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.
Professor Karen Birch
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences
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.
Professor Julia Bennell
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business
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.
Professor Paul Johnson
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences
Paul Johnson is a professor in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. He studied at the University of Durham and the University of Newcastle. He previously worked at the University of Durham, University of Surrey, and University of York where he was Head of the Department of Sociology. His research is concerned with a number of broad questions about the relationship between law, human rights and equality.
Professor Selina Stead
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Environment
Selina Stead is a Professor of Environmental Science. She is a marine biologist, tropical scientist and a UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor and Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute. Her research focuses on environmental science, policy and governance, with a goal on co-creating global sustainability solutions. Her international research spans the Caribbean, East Africa, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia.
Professor Nora de Leeuw
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
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 Europa.
Professor Mark Kearney
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health
Professor Mark Kearney is 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.