Hundreds flocked to Stoke Minster today (March 8) to watch Professor Liz Barnes installed as Staffordshire University’s latest Vice-Chancellor.
The inauguration was planned to coincide with International Women’s Day, which celebrates the movement for women’s rights.
Currently, only 22% of Vice-Chancellors in the UK are women.
Archdeacon Matthew Parker, who was representing the Bishop of Stafford, opened the service.
He said: “This place has borne witness to many great events in the history of the city and the county.
“So, today we welcome you, friends of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and beyond as we host this official installation of Professor Liz Barnes as Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University, praying that it might be a sign of our partnership as we work together for the common good.”
Professor Barnes is the fourth Vice-Chancellor for the university since it gained the status 25 years ago.
She said: “I never dreamt I would be a Vice-Chancellor, it wasn’t ever in my sight.
“I never thought about it, but I just kept looking for the next thing and life just moved me on.
“I never stopped to say ‘I might not get this’ or ‘maybe I’m not the right person for the job’
“I just went for it!”
David Gage, chair of the university’s Board of Governors, said: “Professor Barnes is Staffordshire through and through.
“She was raised in Staffordshire, got her first teaching position in Staffordshire and lives in Staffordshire.
“She brings with her a wealth of experience.”
Prof Barnes has previously been Dean of Social Sciences and Law at Teesside University and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University.
There are more than 15,000 students at Staffordshire University and Professor Barnes is hoping to continue to improve and develop the student experience.
She replaces Staffordshire University’s previous Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Gunn, who retired last year.
He said: “I worked with her at the University of Derby and believe her breadth of experience and knowledge of the region as well as her work in partnerships will add strength to the university.
“I wish Professor Barnes every success in developing the future strategy for Staffordshire University.”
Jamie-Lee Cunningham, the Students’ Union President, said Professor Barnes “can really make Staffs Uni a place to be proud of”.
More information about International Women’s Day and upcoming events can be found here.
(Photo by Justin MacIntosh, video report by Rory Dallas)