Durham University appoints new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) 3 Oct 2016

Professor Alan Houston has been appointed as Durham University’s new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) following an international recruitment process. Alan is currently Director, Academic Strategic Initiatives and Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He will take up his position at Durham on 5 January 2017.

At Durham, Alan will be a member of the University Executive Committee and will report directly to the Vice-Chancellor.

Student-centred and student-facing

Professor Houston is an award-winning historian of political thought, specialising in early-modern Britain and America. All of his leadership roles have been student-centred or student-facing. He has won awards for his teaching activities and he is still actively teaching.

In his current role, Professor Alan Houston is responsible for designing and launching key academic initiatives, including a campus-wide international strategy; rolling out a suite of innovative web-based engaged learning tools for undergraduates; organising summer academies for incoming students from under-represented communities; and formulating an engagement strategy with the wider San Diego region.

Extensive experience

Professor Houston has held several further leadership roles at the University of California, San Diego. Alan was the Interim Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs, UC San Diego, where he was responsible for 500 staff, a budget of $80 million (£60 million) and charged with improving student support services. Alan has extensive experience with collegiate universities, having served as the Provost of Eleanor Roosevelt College. And he is well grounded in postgraduate education, having served as Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science.

Professor Alan Houston has a BA in Mathematics and Political Philosophy from Oberlin College and an MA Government and PhD Government from Harvard University.

Education Strategy

At Durham University, Alan will lead the formation and delivery of the Education Strategy. He will work with colleagues to implement undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are intellectually challenging and which promote advanced levels of skills training. Alan will also oversee the development of technology-enhanced learning platforms that are on a par with best practices worldwide and will be responsible for the development of new forms of learning, assessment and feedback.

On his appointment, Professor Alan Houston said: “Durham is a creative, vibrant and forward-thinking university. The lessons I have learned at Oberlin and Harvard, refined through twenty-six years of research, teaching and leadership at the University of California, have prepared me to effectively serve as Durham’s new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and I look forward to playing a part in Durham’s future.”

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor and Warden said: “The interview panel and I were extremely impressed with Alan’s strong academic and leadership qualities, his pioneering use of modern technology to enhance learning, his commitment to equality and diversity, and his genuine passion for high quality teaching, education and student support.

“Professor Houston is very well-placed to lead a new Education Strategy that will consistently position Durham University as a world-class provider of research-led undergraduate and postgraduate education and I very much look forward to welcoming Alan to Durham.”


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