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Nancy Rothwell Manchester University

Nancy Rothwell to step down as Manchester Uni president and vice-chancellor after 14 years

But hold your horses, she’s here until the summer of 2024


Nancy Rothwell is stepping down from her role as vice-chancellor and president of Manchester University after 14 years.

However, the University has announced that she is not set to leave within the next year, instead staying on until the summer of 2024.

The university broke the news this afternoon but said the decision had been “planned for some time”.

After more than a decade of “unprecedented leadership”, as described by the University, the long search for her successor now begins.

In an email sent to students this afternoon, Philippa Hird, Chair of the Board of Governors, said: “Nancy has been clear of her intention to step down from her role as President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester when her current contract comes to an end in summer 2024.

“Under her leadership, the University continues to develop as a world-leading centre of teaching and learning excellence, a research powerhouse and is setting new standards for social responsibility. Nancy has also made an outstanding contribution to higher education through her sector and national roles.”

Despite the university’s numerous praises for Nancy’s tenure, her time as vice-chancellor has not been without controversy.

In March 2021, Nancy and the university’s senior leadership team faced an all-student vote of no confidence. Students believed numerous incidents were handled inadequately that year.

The movement to remove her described her administration as “awful”.

They pointed to a deleted Instagram post telling students to see lockdown as a “retreat” (which the university says was based on research and wasn’t intended to be taken as advice on student wellbeing); and putting up fencing around Fallowfield halls with students saying they’d been given no warning. Nancy Rothwell apologised for this and the university launched an “immediate inquiry”, accepting the findings when they were released.

89 per cent of students voted they had no confidence in her. Despite this, Nancy vowed to stay on.

In her message today, the Chair of the Board of Governors added: “Clearly, identifying Nancy’s successor in the most senior role within this world-leading university and prominent institution in Greater Manchester is of great significance”.

“Although it will be 2024 before any leadership transition occurs, we are embarking on a global search for her successor which inevitably takes time to complete. It will be an inclusive process with staff, students, and alumni from within the institution and our wider stakeholder community being invited to help inform the requirements for our next President and Vice-Chancellor.

Nancy Rothwell became the first female vice-chancellor of Manchester University when she was appointed in July 2010. The university describes next year as a “significant year” as the uni celebrates its 200th birthday, following its inception in 1824.

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