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24th April 2024

Get to know: Who is Professor Duncan Ivison?

Nancy Rothwell is stepping down – who exactly is her replacement?
Get to know: Who is Professor Duncan Ivison?
Credit: The University of Sydney

After 14 years at the helm of the University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell is stepping down as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester. Duncan Ivison has been chosen as her replacement by the University board of governors.

While it may appear that a Vice-Chancellor is not the most senior role in the University, in practice this is not the case. The University chancellor, Nazir Afzal, is technically the most senior role in the University, but his role is purely ceremonial – think of it like the Queen and the Prime Minister.

In practice, the Vice-Chancellor of a British University operates as the Chief Executive Officer, and is therefore is the most senior management role.

Professor Ivison’s appointment is therefore a significant one as University leadership changes hands.

Academic Background 

Professor Ivison was originally born in Montreal, Canada, where he studied his Bachelors of Arts at McGill university. He went on to do a Masters of Science in Political Science and a Doctorate in Political Philosophy, both at the London School of Economics. The Professor is staunchly rooted in the humanities, which will be welcome news to humanities students after 14 years of a scientist leading the University.

According to Professor Ivison, his three main areas of speciality are “political philosophy, the history of philosophy (including the history of political thought); and moral philosophy.” His X (formerly Twitter) account reflects his political views.

Professor Ivison started out his journey in academia with a fellowship at the Australian National University and Princeton University, in the department of Social Sciences at both. He also had a brief stint at the University of Toronto and the University of York as a lecturer for 2 years and 3 years respectively.

The bulk of his career consists of his time at the University of Sydney starting in 2001, with roles in research, teaching, and appointed professorships. In 2010, he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences before graduating to become Deputy Vice-Chancellor, a post he held until 2022.

Since then, Ivison has taken a year out from leadership and dabbled in visiting roles at Nuffield College, Oxford, and the Australian National University, while continuing to teach at the University of Sydney.

Duncan Ivison’s familiarisation trip to the University

On March 17, Professor Ivison flew to the UK and began a two-week period in which he was to familiarise himself with the University as well as meeting with key stakeholders in the University and Greater Manchester.

According to the current Vice-Chancellor, Nancy Rothwell, he spent time meeting with the leaders of Manchester Metropolitan University, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the University of Salford, as well as other stakeholders in the University.

In a short blog post written by Professor Ivison regarding his visit to the University, he said that he met with University senior leaders, staff and students at the various schools and faculties at the University, and civic leaders.

He expressed that his visit “reinforced [his] sense of what a special place the University of Manchester is and how fortunate we are to be joining it.”

On April 15, the University released further information regarding Duncan Ivison’s appointment and the nine-day visit he had had to the University in the days preceding Easter.

Professor Ivison’s contractual details

An update from the Renumeration Committee at the University details the contractual minutiae between the University and it’s incoming Vice-Chancellor.

The summary of the contract reveals that Ivison will receive an annual wage of £350,000 a year, with no salary review until 2026. His contract will run for 5 years (until 2029).

According to the renumeration committee, the agreed upon salary is a “mid-point” of salaries paid to Vice-Chancellors leading Universities in the Russell Group, and remains below what is often offered at other higher education institutions in the United States and Australia.

According to public data on the salaries received by University Vice-Chancellors in the UK, Professor Ivison’s base salary is at a similar level to Vice-Chancellors at the University of Birmingham and Edinburgh, and his total package of renumeration is similar to Vice-Chancellors at the Universities of Glasgow, Newcastle, and Bristol.

Professor Ivison will begin his post on July 1 for a handover period, before he fully assumes all responsibilities on August 1 when Dame Rothwell stands down from her post as Vice-Chancellor.

Miles Davenport

Miles Davenport

Co-Editor of News, 2023-2024, 3rd year student in History & Sociology

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