Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

About the University of Edinburgh

At the University of Edinburgh, we’ve been influencing the world for more than 400 years. Each year we take on tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Each year is different – every person, teacher, project, and every thought more exciting than the last. 

Whatever excites you, whatever your ambition, whatever makes you ‘you’, we know one thing; nothing ordinary comes from this extraordinary place. At Edinburgh, you’ll be in good company, doing good things, for the good of the environment and the world.

Driven by this passion, we’ve affected and empowered every one of our community. We believe this is possible because of a unique mix of three factors:

Place: The city of Edinburgh is famous for changing the way the world is understood. Its history and reputation rub off on us, every day. It inspires and lifts our expectations of what is possible.

People: Our staff, students, leaders and partners are talented, courageous, engaging and brilliant – and down-to-earth. They value wisdom, laughter, character – and each other.

Practice: We’re an encouraging space to explore, but at the same time, our research, teaching, and even our daily processes, are ambitious. We, and our global business partners, inspire you to aim high, push frontiers, deliver economic impact, drive sustainability. We’re bold and our results change the world.

Where our place, people and practice meet, this is the University of Edinburgh.

As a world-leading research-intensive University, we are here to address tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Between now and 2030 we will do that with a values-led approach to teaching, research and innovation, and through the strength of our relationships, both locally and globally.  Edinburgh is a truly global university and we have always had a commitment to diversity and a community in which students feel valued and welcome.

The University had more than 44,000 students matriculated during the 2019/20 academic year, over 35,000 of whom were on campus here in Edinburgh. Students from all over the world choose to study at Edinburgh, attracted to the quality of our education and research portfolio, but also our city, our community and our international culture. With 21 schools across the 3 colleges, the University has a diverse and attractive portfolio of highly ranked courses on offer.

The University of Edinburgh has progressively grown its research portfolio over the last decade, now winning considerably over £300m annually. We are a leading partner of all UK research councils, the large charities, EU and many of the world’s most important international funders. We host a range of famous centres, including the MRC Human Genetics Unit and BBSRC’s Roslin Institute, a major GCRF Hub and are founder members of the Alan Turing, Rosalind Franklin, Health Data Research UK and UK Dementia Research Institutes. Edinburgh and its partners have recently brought in a £600m award from UK and Scottish Governments for data-driven innovation under the aegis of a City Region Deal.

With more than 4000 staff working in 12 Schools within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh to deliver excellence in teaching and research, the VP Head of College role offers the opportunity to set direction, motivate and lead across a portfolio of local, national and international academic priorities in a world-class future-focussed University. 

1. Job Details

Post: Vice-Principal Head of College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Reports to: Provost (currently being appointed)

Direct reports: College Registrar, Heads of Schools for Business School, Centre for Open Learning, Divinity, Economics, Edinburgh College of Art, Health in Social Science, History Classics and Archaeology, Law, Literatures Languages and Cultures, Moray House School of Education and Sport, Philosophy Psychology and Language Sciences, Social and Political Science

2. Post Summary

This is a senior leadership position and offers the successful candidate a significant role in one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities.

The Vice-Principal & Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (VP Head of CAHSS) is responsible for the development of the University's academic and business strategy in conjunction with the Principal, Provost and the other members of the Senior Leadership Team. Ultimately responsible for the development and delivery of the academic and business strategy for the College and ensuring the sound management and direction of resources - financial, staffing, estates, IT and other business areas - to ensure achievement of the College strategy and compliance with financial and other controls.

With responsibility for the management and delivery of the College income of £340m and leading over 4000 staff, this is a senior leadership position of strategic relevance and importance to the University, as well as within wider arts, humanities and social sciences communities, nationally and globally.

The VP Head of CAHSS is expected to lead the effective promulgation and implementation of University policy and objectives within the College. Discharging these responsibilities in the 'collegial' tradition of the University, consulting widely and seeking consensus where possible in the making and implementation of decisions, whilst being prepared to take difficult decisions when necessary.

The Head of College is supported by a devolved management structure comprising 12 Heads of School who lead the academic work of the College. In addition, the College has its own dedicated professional services team to provide on-the-spot expertise in the areas of finance and planning, staff administration, student recruitment and academic administrative support led by the College Registrar.

3. Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

The University of Edinburgh is looking for an experienced academic leader. This senior leadership post offers a major opportunity for an outstanding appointee to shape and grow the academic, innovation, industry interactions, research and enterprise development and international landscape.

The VP Head of CAHSS will provide strategic leadership in all areas of the College's activities, by developing and articulating a clear vision and taking full account of changes, opportunities and threats in the environment, in order to position and strengthen the College effectively and working with the Provost, the Principal and other senior team members on delivery thereof.

The VP Head of CAHSS will work closely alongside and in partnership with the VP Head of College of Science and Engineering and VP Head of College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.  They will also work in close partnership with VP Students, VP Strategic Change & University Secretary, VP Information Services, VP Corporate Services and Director of Finance.  Excellent collaboration and leadership skills will maximise these relationships to deliver a cohesive and clear strategic direction for the University, under the leadership of the Provost, and the Vice-Chancellor & Principal.

The successful candidate will be a seasoned leader in academia.  They will have a strong track record of achievement in teaching or research in any domain within Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

We are committed to equality and diversity and applicants from minority groups are particularly welcomed.

4. Qualities & Characteristics

As a world-leading research-intensive University, we are here to address tomorrow’s greatest challenges. To deliver this, the VP Head of CAHSS should possess many of the following qualities and characteristics:

  • An inclusive, values-led and forward-looking leadership style that encourages collaboration in an environment that has historically embraced autonomy and a strong competitive spirit
  • Demonstrable integrity, transparency and values-based leadership with the ability to lead through influence and persuasion
  • A high degree of comfort making decisions that affect the whole university and its major external partners and stakeholders
  • Evidence of their ability to command respect within, throughout and beyond the College.  This will include an outstanding personal record of University-level contributions which might include excellence in any combination of teaching, internationally recognised research and securing and leading research funding
  • Demonstrable commitment and personal drive to implement improvements to the Student Experience
  • Clear ability to be an effective 'team member' in the top strategic groups in the University, developing College strategy and thinking within a University context extending across all three Colleges
  • Strong change leadership mindset to ensure that College initiatives are implemented effectively and that College staff understand both the College and the University strategic vision
  • The integrity and vision to be able to set a personal example for probity and ethics, for encouraging excellence in teaching and research, for demonstrating interest in all disciplines, for valuing the contribution of all members of the College, and for inclusiveness
  • A commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in the University’s teaching, research, innovation and enterprise activities.

5. Qualifications and experience

  • Academic credentials consistent with the rank of professor, as demonstrated by a distinguished record of teaching, scholarly publications, and/or creative accomplishments that exhibit commitment to academic excellence
  • A history of progressively responsible, successful experience as an academic leader at the Dean/Head of School level or above, involving both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of teaching and research
  • Leadership and management experience, with demonstrated ability to empower, enable, motivate and challenge through leadership; developing a positive, high-performance and inclusive culture in a participative, consensual environment, and to provide clear and firm direction to achieve change and development
  • Extensive previous responsibility for planning, budget, staff recruitment and evaluation.  Should be able to demonstrate a successful track record in managing and being held accountable for a significant relevant resource, including budgetary responsibility
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to carry personal authority; influencing and brokering skills, and to build dynamic and progressive partnerships internally and with external stakeholders
  • Capacity to contribute constructively and effectively to the working of the senior leadership team of the University, balancing “big picture” pan-University or sectoral issues with the needs and wishes of the College
  • Breadth of vision, with the ability to be aware of the impact of individual developments on the overall strategy
  • Evidenced ability to adapt and the flexibility to work productively with a wide range of people and perspectives and to be an effective team player
  • Skills or experience in fund-raising from both public and private sources would be a significant advantage

How to apply

The University will be supported in this appointment process by the executive search firm Perrett Laver. Perrett Laver will support the panel in the discharge of its duties, both to assist in the assessment of candidates against the requirements for the role and to identify the widest possible field of qualified candidates. We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and applicants from minority groups are particularly welcomed.

Applications should consist of a full curriculum vitae along with a covering letter of application addressing the role and the qualities and experiences outlined. Completed applications should be uploaded at www.perrettlaver.com/candidates quoting reference 5249 by Monday 11th October 2021 at midday (BST).

Longlisted candidates will be invited for interview with Perrett Laver in November following which the panel will agree a shortlist. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend informal visits and interviews with Edinburgh on Friday 21st January 2022.

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Please visit the following link in order to find more information about the use of personal information provided by candidates to the University of Edinburgh: https://www.ed.ac.uk/data-protection