Published: 29 December 2017

Damehood for University’s Vice-Chancellor in New Year’s Honours list

Janet Beer

The University of Liverpool’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Janet Beer, has been recognised with a Damehood for her services to higher education and equality and diversity in the New Year’s Honours list.

Professor Beer has dedicated the majority of her working life to higher education. An outstanding researcher in the field of late 19th and early 20th century American literature and culture, she has held a number of senior leadership roles and took up post as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool in February 2015 after seven successful years as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. She is also currently President of Universities UK, the representative body for universities nationally.

Lord Derby, President of the University of Liverpool’s Council said, “I am thrilled that our Vice-Chancellor has been honoured in such an appropriate way for her working lifetime’s devotion to higher education. Janet’s achievements are remarkable both as a leader and also in her work on widening participation and gender equality. Not only is she a brilliant Vice Chancellor but is now making an impact in her role as President of Universities UK.”

Professor Beer said: “I am both honoured and humbled by this award and grateful for the support of colleagues across the sector over the years.  Having had my own life transformed by higher education, I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to contribute, in the University of Liverpool founders’ words, to the ‘advancement of learning and ennoblement of life’ throughout my career.”

National leadership

In addition to her role with Universities UK, Professor Beer is a Trustee of the British Council and has fulfilled a variety of other roles at national level, not least as former Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee from 2000 to 2007 and Chair of University Alliance.

A passionate advocate of continuous improvement to the student experience, Professor Beer previously chaired the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group, which was responsible for student information including the National Student Survey and Key Information Set. She was also a founding Board member of the Higher Education Academy and chaired the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions Steering Group.

In addition, she has been a board member for UCAS and an Arts and Humanities Research Council panel member.

Equality and diversity

Professor Beer is known for her drive to improve equality and diversity in the higher education sector and beyond. As Chair of the Equality Challenge Unit, she significantly raised the profile of the equality and diversity challenges in the sector and championed the adoption of Athena SWAN and other charters in support of university staff across the country.

Professor Beer is particularly passionate about supporting and encouraging women in leadership positions and has overseen considerable institutional success in this area. The University of Liverpool has seen a rapid increase in appointments of female professors in recent years and, in 2017, was awarded its first Athena SWAN Gold award in recognition of its work to promote gender equality.

Regional roles

Professor Beer also contributes extensively to the Liverpool City Region, chairing the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter Board and as a member of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Board. Earlier this year, she was also appointed by the Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram as the adviser on Higher Education for the Liverpool City Region.

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