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Sheffield University appoints new vice-chancellor

Professor Koen Lamberts.
Professor Koen Lamberts.

A Belgium-born psychology expert has been appointed as the new vice-chancellor and president of Sheffield University.

Professor Koen Lamberts leaves his post as head of York University to join Sheffield, succeeding Prof Sir Keith Burnett who is retiring at the end of September after more than a decade as leader.

Discussing his appointment, he spoke of the value of 'international scholarship' and reaffirmed Sheffield's standing as a 'global university', at a time when Brexit is putting a question mark over EU research money and student numbers.

Prof Lamberts is a cognitive psychologist, with a track record of award-winning research into human perception and memory, and has held several top roles in higher education, including chair of the N8 group of universities in the North of England.

He will start in November. Sheffield University's provost and deputy vice-chancellor Prof Gill Valentine is to step up in the interim.

"I feel enormously privileged," Prof Lamberts said.

"Sheffield is known across the world for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of its research and teaching, and for being a university which speaks fearlessly for the value of international scholarship to transform lives for the better.

"I am committed to working with colleagues to further enhance Sheffield's reputation as a global university which strives to solve society's greatest challenges at the same time as upholding its proud history, guided by its founding principles.”

He added: “At its heart, Sheffield is a civic university for the 21st century and I am looking forward to working with partners in the Sheffield City Region.”

Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: "In addition to his reputation as a scholar and educational leader, Koen has been a true advocate for the international community of scholars who together make such a profound difference for society here in the UK and around the world. I could not be more pleased, and wish him the very best in his endeavours."

Tony Pedder, chair of the university's council, said: “This is an extremely important appointment for our university as we look to build further on our global reputation for world-changing research, inspirational teaching and a unique student experience.”

Mr Pedder said Sheffield was a 'truly international community, that continues to put civic commitment at its heart with a profound belief in the public benefit of providing excellent higher education in a research-intensive environment'.

“We know Professor Lamberts shares these values and will work with an exceptional community of colleagues and students while proudly serving as an advocate and ambassador for our university, both at home and across the world," he said.

Born in Hasselt, Belgium, Prof Lamberts studied at Leuven University, gaining a PhD in psychology. He then became a research associate in Chicago, and lectured at Birmingham before joining Warwick University, where he held senior jobs including deputy vice-chancellor. He went to York in 2014.