VICE-CHANCELLOR PROFESSOR SIR ROBERT BURGESS SPEAKS TO PUKAAR ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE SPANNING FIFTEEN YEARS AS THE HEAD OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER
This September, the University of Leicester will bid farewell to its longest- serving Vice-Chancellor when Sir Robert Burgess goes into retirement. The institution will be undoubtedly sad to say goodbye to a man who has dedicated the past fifteen years of his working life to the development of the university, turning it into an internationally recognised academic establishment.
Professor Burgess said that what he will sincerely miss is the youthful community of the university environment. He has fond memories from the role and shared some highlights: “One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is the range of activities, from setting up a new research centre to discussing fundraisers or visiting different departments to see innovative pieces of work. It’s the richness of the job and indeed the variety of things that go on in the University of Leicester that have made it such an interesting experience.”
He has maintained good relationships between the university and the local community, creating links with the city’s hospitals, councils, cathedral, and the local residents. “It’s a juggling act but we are very committed to working in tandem with the people of Leicester because we want them to be very proud of us and realise that they have an international university on their doorstep.”
Becoming a leading institution doesn’t happen overnight, and one of the most ambitious projects that the Vice- Chancellor has seen through is the refurbishment of the university library, a £42million development process. “This project was at the centre of campus and it delivered something for everybody because everyone uses the library, either by actually visiting or by using the services remotely. The old library had 800,000 annual visitors whereas the new one had 1.5million in the same time, showing that it has really been appreciated by staff and students alike.”
You would be forgiven for assuming that Sir Robert might be putting his feet up in retirement, but he has already been asked to Chair a number of committees. Asked if he would be enjoying any leisure activities, Professor Burgess commented, “I hope to have more free time to do some of the things I don’t get a chance to do at the moment. You tend not to have time for hobbies with this job!”
His successor is Professor Paul Boyle, the current Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council and President of Science Europe. Sir Robert, fondly known as Bob the Builder, imparted some words of wisdom, expressing that “It is very important to enjoy the job and to decide on the projects you want to initiate and the things you want to develop. If you do that, you’ll have a very enjoyable and successful period as a Vice-Chancellor.”