UCL News


UCL Council announce new President & Provost

10 December 2012

Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of UCL Council, talks about the selection process that has led to the appointment of Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

"No 'white smoke' is allowed in our great secular institution. But I have good news for all that. The Council has chosen a new President & Provost to succeed Malcolm Grant. He is Michael Arthur, presently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. We chose Michael Arthur because we were impressed by his personal qualities, by his own record of professional and academic attainment and by his leadership and achievements at Leeds. He has transformed the university's research and teaching; established healthy finances; put Leeds on the map as a Russell Group institution and developed a strong sense of community and commitment among academic and non-academic staff. He has a strong record of engagement with the local community. As Chair of the Russell Group, he has a lot of experience in influencing government at all levels. Some of you will already know him.

To get to today's announcement we set up a Joint Selection Committee earlier this year, composed of 14 women and men drawn from across the university and its disciplines. As you know, with the help of head hunters Odgers, we consulted across the university to establish what qualities you wanted to see in Malcolm's successor. We had 48 expressions of interest in the job from across the world. These were boiled down to a first list of 19 candidates, and subsequently, after thorough investigation and inquiry, to a dozen names. These were then whittled down to the final five whom we interviewed intensively over two days. More than one candidate was appointable but we were unanimous in choosing Michael Arthur for all the reasons I have given and because he seemed to us to best understand and articulate the importance of a university that is academically led. He understands the intensely competitive world we are in and the challenge and excitement of being both competitive and collaborative across disciplines and across national frontiers. He has made Leeds a high performer in teaching, reflected in its ratings in the National Student Survey. He convinced us that he will listen and consult, that he will value all staff, that he sees our students as partners in the enterprise. He has not been afraid to take difficult decisions and to lead from the front but he also has a proven record of empowering others at all levels.

We were unanimous in choosing Michael Arthur because he seemed to us to best understand and articulate the importance of a university that is academically led.

Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of UCL Council

In contemplating UCL without Malcolm, I have often thought of the old 19th century Punch cartoon penned when Bismarck left office in Prussia and simply called: Dropping the pilot. It has felt like that. We have been brilliantly led by a Provost who has inspired us to raise our game so that we have put the substance behind our strapline of London's Global University. But if I was apprehensive before, that feeling has been replaced by optimism and confidence. As an outsider I can say it: we have at UCL some of the cleverest people in the world and an entire team of committed and immensely hard-working staff. We attract the brightest students from across the world. We have the ability and ambition to do even greater things and to recognise those areas where we need to do better.  

When you get to know Michael Arthur, I think you will share the confidence and enthusiasm with which we have selected him for the great tasks which await him."

Images from top to bottom: Professor Michael Arthur, Sir Stephen Wall


Press release: Professor Michael Arthur to be new President & Provost of UCL

Professor Michael Arthur's CV