Professor Karen Cox Photo: University of Kent

Professor Karen Cox has announced plans for her departure as Vice Chancellor and President at the University after seven years in the role. 

Since joining the University in August 2017, Professor Cox has helped to embed Kent as a leading civic university while ensuring continued success across education and research. Key initiatives delivered through the University’s most recent strategy include the launch of the Kent and Medway Medical School with Canterbury Christ Church University and recent approval for the Docking Station, which will provide a new cultural and creative hub for Medway in partnership with Medway Council and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. 

Under her leadership, the University has received numerous awards and honours, including a Queen’s Anniversary Prize (for the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology in 2019), a range of awards and recognition for teaching excellence and support for students, and a significant rise in the recent national Research Excellence Framework. She also steered the University through the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic while taking necessary steps to address sector-wide financial challenges and ensure its future sustainability. 

Professor Cox said:

‘Serving as Vice-Chancellor for this fantastic University has been a complete privilege. There isn’t a day that has gone by where I haven’t felt proud and inspired by the talent, drive and ingenuity of our students and staff.  

‘While the sector faces well-known challenges, seeing students achieve their ambitions with us and go on to make the world a better place remains as moving as it has always been. I am, and will remain, a passionate advocate for the power of higher education as a driver of social mobility and as a key part of our wider civic society. I look forward to celebrating both this and Kent’s continued successes under new leadership in the years ahead.’ 

Chair of Council Mark Preston said:

‘On behalf of the University’s Council I’d like to thank Karen for her exceptional leadership of the University through what has been an incredibly challenging period for the sector. She has our deep gratitude. Her hard work and determination have been critical in both launching key new initiatives and supporting staff and students through periods of significant change. 

‘Karen’s work has culminated in leading a strategic review of our size, shape and ambition for the future, captured in our Kent 2030 plan. It draws on our strengths, creates a clear mission for the next phase of the University’s life, and has won the support of key internal and external stakeholders. We will now be looking for the next person to take Kent forward, continuing to build on this strategy, while ensuring we meet what students and industry are looking for from universities in the future.’ 

Alongside her role at Kent, Professor Cox has fulfilled a number of wider sector roles, serving on the board of Universities UK (UUK) and the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).  She also served as Board Member of the Nursing & Midwifery Council (the UK regulator of nurses, midwives and nursing associates), as Associate Non-Executive Board member of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, and was the nominated HE Representative on the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. 

An extensive recruitment process will now take place to appoint the University’s seventh Vice-Chancellor. In the meantime, the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura will take over as Acting Vice-Chancellor when Professor Cox leaves on 22 May 2024. 

By Ed

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