25th July 2019
EAUC board member Eunice Simmons has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of University of Chester from January 2020.
Professor Simmons is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), where she leads the Academic and Student Affairs directorate, encompassing the student journey from primary school through university to graduate employment. Her leadership has been instrumental in creating an outstanding student experience at NTU, recognised with three successive ‘University of the Year’ titles; a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Gold award; and a rise up The Guardian University Guide league table to 12th in the 2020 rankings.
Professor Simmons (Eunice) gained an Honours degree in Biology at the University of Manchester and PGCE at Roehampton Institute. She taught secondary school science before obtaining a scholarship to the University of Kent for an MSc. This was followed by a research post with the University of London and the Forestry Commission, surveying sites throughout England and Wales, leading to a PhD in forest ecology and conservation in 1992. Her Professorship in Sustainable Environments was awarded for research and teaching in landuse and environmental habitats, ranging from Malaysian rainforest to Kent downland.
Eunice has worked in five diverse institutions including two in the North West: University of London’s Wye and Imperial Colleges; UCLan; University of Cumbria and at Nottingham Trent since 2010. Her academic leadership roles have included Course Leader, MSc Director, Head of School, Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor and she has significant experience as a residential warden. Eunice has managed many professional service teams supporting the student experience – several of which have been recognised with national awards.
As the recipient of a ‘Green Gown’ award for leadership, Eunice has led many community and environmental projects including chairing the North West’s regional forestry framework steering group. She is committed to broadening access to university and the types of course on offer and has championed the development of online and degree apprenticeship portfolios, working with hundreds of companies.
Eunice is a trustee and board member of Advance HE, the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC), and the new Transforming Access and Student Outcomes Centre (TASO-HE). As a member of Southwell Cathedral Council she has strengthened links between the Minster and NTU’s students through ceremonial events, heritage projects and sharing of expertise.
She is married with two sons at university and is a keen gardener, ecologist and walker in her spare time.
She said: “I am thrilled to be taking up the role of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester in 2020 and am very much looking forward to visiting all the University sites and meeting students, staff and partner organisations. Chester’s values and its educational heritage and ambition resonate strongly with me and I am eager to help the University grow its offer to students and increase its impact in the region and beyond.”
Canon Dr Jeff Turnbull, President of University Council and Pro-Chancellor, said: “On behalf of the University Council, I am delighted to announce the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor, who will start in post on January 1, 2020. We are looking forward to working with her in taking the University into the next stage, continuing to strive for the best for our students and staff.”
Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, said: “I am delighted that someone of Eunice’s immense talent and experience is taking on the role of Vice-Chancellor of the University. As she takes on the stewardship of this wonderful institution, she will undoubtedly bring her flair and energy in taking it still further in meeting the needs of students and the communities we serve. I wish her every success and will be working with her to ensure a smooth transition.”
Dr Gyles Brandreth, Chancellor of the University of Chester, said: “The University of Chester is a very special University, so it’s exciting to welcome someone with the special gifts and experience of Eunice Simmons as our new Vice-Chancellor. She is going to be stepping in to big shoes – Professor Tim Wheeler’s contribution as the University’s first Vice-Chancellor has been unique - but Professor Simmons has all the qualities, qualifications and experience for the job. I am looking forward hugely to working with her as she leads the University in the challenging and exciting years that lie ahead.”