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Cardiff Metropolitan University Appoints New Vice-Chancellor - Professor Cara Aitchison



​Cardiff Metropolitan University has appointed Professor Cara Carmichael Aitchison, currently Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth, to succeed Professor Antony Chapman who retires as Vice-Chancellor on 31 August 2016.  

Professor Aitchison, who will take up post on 1 October, stated:

'It's an enormous privilege to have been appointed to the role of Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I've worked closely with a number of colleagues at Cardiff Met over almost 20 years and have watched the organization grow in size, reputation and impact while retaining a principled commitment to its motto: 'The most valuable possession is knowledge'. I was attracted by the prospect of leading the development and delivery of a new strategic plan for a growing, dynamic and ambitious university that is closely aligned with my own academic subject expertise and my leadership and management experience. The University has a rich portfolio of undergraduate, postgraduate, research and enterprise activity, is rooted in a cosmopolitan capital city with proximity to policy makers and is creative and international in its outlook. I look forward to leading the organization through its next phase of development in partnership with its highly motivated staff, students and stakeholders and its ambitious Board of Governors.'

Professor Cara Aitchison has led the University of St Mark & St John through a significant programme of development. She joined from the University of Edinburgh where she was Head of Moray House School of Education and Chair in Social and Environmental Justice (2010-2013). She was previously Dean of the Faculty of Education and Sport at the University of Bedfordshire (2008-2010), Professor in Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Leisure, Tourism and Society at UWE Bristol (2003-2008) and held earlier leadership positions at the University of Gloucestershire (1997-2003) and two London institutions (1988-1997). She is also an Honorary Professor in the Department of Health at the University of Bath.

Professor Aitchison was Chair of the UK Joint Research Councils' Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) Panel for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism. She is a Council Member of the Academy of Social Sciences, Member of the Economic and Social Research Council's Peer Review College and a Board Member of the Equality Challenge Unit, Plymouth Area Business Council, Plymouth Culture, and Askel Veur Academies Company for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. She has held a number of previous national and international appointments and roles including Scottish Government-appointed Member of the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education (2011-2013), Chair of the UN-affiliated World Leisure Commission on Women and Gender (2002-2008) and Chair of the UK Leisure Studies Association (2001- 2004).

With over 200 research outputs Professor Aitchison has a world-leading reputation for developing new theoretical perspectives in leisure, tourism and gender studies and new policy impacts in rural planning, cultural strategy, tourism development, sport policy and leisure management. She is most widely known for her multi-disciplinary and cross-sector development of social cohesion, economic growth and international mobility and has published 10 books including: Leisure and Tourism Landscapes: Social and Cultural Geographies (Routledge, 2001), Gender and Leisure: Social and Cultural Perspectives (Routledge, 2003) and Geographies of Muslim Identities: Diaspora, Gender and Belonging (Ashgate, 2007). Over the last 10 years she has been an Expert Witness at Public Inquiries, Planning Appeals and Select Committees on tourism and the economic and environmental impact of renewable energy and has undertaken a range of funded research projects in Wales.

Professor Aitchison has an MA (Hons) degree in Geography from Edinburgh University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Leisure and Recreation Practice, a Masters in Gender Studies and a PhD in Social Science from Bristol University. She also has a teaching qualification and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Senior Fellow of the World Leisure Academy and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Chair of the Board of Governors, Barbara Wilding CBE, QPM, said:

'I am delighted that the Board of Governors has secured the appointment of Professor Cara Aitchison as successor to Professor Tony Chapman. We are confident that Professor Aitchison will continue her predecessor's work in developing a strong, vibrant and diverse university with global reach, sound finances and high aspirations.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Tony who leaves us at the end of August after 18 highly successful years as Vice-Chancellor.  His leadership, perseverance and clear vision have been central to the University's progress since 1998.  The Board and the whole University community wish him and his family well for the future'