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Harper Adams appoints first female professor

Posted 20 April

“I hope my promotion will unlock doors for others and show them that it can be done, helping other women feel that they can do it."

Profile picture of Professor Arnold

Lydia Arnold has been appointed as Harper Adams University’s first female professor.

Professor Arnold said she was looking forward to continuing and developing the exceptional record of the university in the provision of learning and teaching.

She said she hopes her promotion will inspire other talented women to become professors.
Professor Arnold arrived at Harper Adams for what she believed would be a short engagement but has now been working at the university for 11 years.

She is Professor of Learning and Teaching with responsibility for the leadership of eLearning provision, leadership of academic development and is course leader for PgC in Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education.

Professor Arnold also organises the university’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference and undertakes work around curriculum development. She is also an active researcher and shares her work regularly through social media.

“News of my promotion came as a total shock; I feel really privileged, although I was given the news just as coronavirus was getting started so it’s going to be a case of delayed celebration,” she said.

“I’m very pleased, obviously, but all our minds are elsewhere at the moment and all our thoughts are with our students, staff and the wider community in getting through this crisis.

“Being the first female professor at the university is really special. Harper Adams has some exceptional talent, both male and female, and has a number of women at Principal Lecturer level - the step before a professor - who are already helping, guiding and mentoring the talented community of women here.

“I arrived at Harper Adams 11 years ago. I started on a specialist project, focused around employer engagement, my focus was to develop a range of courses.

“That work was really successful in providing opportunities for people who were in work to succeed in higher education. My role at the university kept getting broader and now covers all aspects of teaching and learning.

“I hope my promotion will unlock doors for others and show them that it can be done, helping other women feel that they can do it.

“I think nationally that there is still an under-representation of different groups in many areas of higher education; for example, there are not enough females, or black or ethnic minority people in senior roles.

“Harper Adams does have strong senior female staff who are ideally placed to help others. I have been inspired by such colleagues who have encouraged me, and who have passed on opportunities to allow my career to progress.

“Two other important things in my own development which led to my promotion were - the Principal Fellowship of HEA and also the National Teaching Fellowship.

“Completing and being successful in these two areas really opened up my thinking to becoming a professor and I’m sure this would be true for others treading the same path.”

Professor Arnold said she was looking forward to helping colleagues develop the excellent teaching practices at Harper Adams.

“I want to continue to build on the outstanding work we do at Harper Adams in the provision of learning and teaching,” she added.

“We have strong practices in place and the university holds a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Gold; the highest rating for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students. This confirms the exceptional work which is continually being done at the university.

“I want to share these practices with the outside world through talks and other media, promoting the work we do with regard to teaching and learning as we continue to develop and improve for the benefits of our students and staff.”

Andy Jones, Director of Teaching, Learning and International said: "We are delighted that Lydia has been promoted to professor as this is very well-deserved.

“Lydia’s innovative support for academic staff has been highly regarded for many years and her academic track-record in the field of teaching and learning development is now formally recognised by her new title.

“We are sure she will continue to influence and shape practice in higher education for many years to come."

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