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Durham University appoints new head of learning and teaching

(9 May 2008)

Durham University has appointed Professor Anthony Forster as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching).

Professor Forster moves up to his new role from the position of Executive Dean of Social Science and Health at Durham. He will be tasked with enhancing teaching quality, promoting innovative ways of delivering teaching, developing learning at all levels and helping to shape the student experience offered by the University. Professor Forster, who came to Durham from the University of Bristol where he was head of the Department of Politics, served as an Army officer for six years before returning to Higher Education (HE). He felt his experience outside the HE sector would stand him in good stead as he tackled his new role. Professor Forster said: “My own background as a mature student has helped strengthen my awareness of the opportunities and challenges involved in shaping what Durham can offer to an increasingly diverse student population. “It has also reinforced my sense of the value of developing links with employers to better understand how we can help our students to meet their needs through the educational experience we offer.” A key part of Professor Forster’s approach will be engaging with and listening to the views of staff, students and other stakeholders. He said: “I lived in college during my first year in Durham and the chance this gave me to engage in discussion and debate with students and academic colleagues underlined the importance of canvassing and absorbing the views of those at the forefront of learning and teaching. “Durham is special because of its stunning location, because it is a human-scale university where students are valued as individuals, where they have direct access to some of the world’s finest academic minds, and because of the wide-range of non-academic experiences on offer, from sports to charity work. “These are real strengths for us to build on as we continue to provide our students with the complete experience and best all-round education to prepare them for the future, whether they choose to go on into postgraduate study or to move outside the HE sector.” Professor Forster, who will continue his research on society and the military in parallel to his new role, said he was particularly keen to ensure as high a profile as possible for teaching at Durham. He added: “Teaching and learning are key to what the University does, and I will be working hard to make sure that Durham’s commitment to excellence and innovation in this area receives the wide recognition it deserves.” Professor Forster is one of three Pro-Vice-Chancellors on Durham’s senior management team. Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Higgins said: “By utilising the experience he has gained outside of the HE sector, Professor Forster will have a key part to play in helping the University to realise its vision of delivering a distinctive and high-quality student experience which will equip our students to excel in their chosen careers. “Professor Forster’s proven track record as an academic leader presents the University with a wonderful opportunity to engage colleagues across the institution in shaping and enhancing our teaching and learning provision in all its guises.”

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