Following meetings of Senate and Council held today (Monday 3 September 2018), Professor Ian H White FREng has been appointed as the next Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath.

Professor White is currently van Eck Professor of Engineering and a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, and Master of Jesus College.

He is actively involved in academic research as Head of the Centre of Photonic Systems in the Engineering Department at Cambridge University. Other leadership positions he has held at Cambridge include Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Affairs and Head of the School of Technology.

He has a strong existing affinity with both Bath and the wider West of England region having been Professor of Physics at the University of Bath from 1990-96 and then Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol.

Professor Ian White said:

“It is a real privilege to be joining the University of Bath at such a key moment in its history, having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It is a university community I care deeply about, having worked here at an early and very significant stage in my academic career.

“The founding vision of Bath, that of providing a rigorous and relevant education to students, and serving society through world-class research, resonates profoundly with me. I firmly believe that Bath can build on its considerable success to date, maintaining quality and enhancing innovation.”

The University’s Chancellor, His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex, Chair of the Committee which oversaw the appointment process, said:

“The Committee was impressed by Professor White’s passion, ideas, imagination, innovation and manner. We were struck with the way in which he analysed the needs of the University now and in the future, and how he applied his experiences from Bath, Bristol and Cambridge to create unique and relevant solutions.

“I would also like to pay tribute to members of the University community who have played such a crucial role in recruiting our next Vice-Chancellor, and all those who have taken part in the consultation process.”

Thomas Sheppard, Chair of Council, said:

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Professor White as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath. His exceptional academic record and demonstrable excellence across teaching, research, innovation and high-level university administration will be of great importance for the University in this very challenging time for the sector. I also believe that his values and collaborative leadership approach will make him the perfect candidate to work with the entire University community and its local, national and international stakeholders.”

Eve Alcock, President of the University of Bath Students’ Union and a member of the final interview panel said:

“The recruitment process for our new Vice-Chancellor was transparent, inclusive and wide-ranging. Students and staff had input and representation throughout and so we had the chance hear about Ian White’s values and vision for the University. As a result, I am confident that Ian White is the right choice for Bath. I believe we can all look forward to an exciting and bright future for our University.”

Professor Veronica Hope-Hailey, Dean of the University of Bath School of Management, also a member of the final interview panel, said:

“As a proven academic leader and innovator, Professor White has the precise mix of values, attributes, attitudes and experience required to take our community forward. I look forward to working closely with him as a colleague.”

Dr Susanne Gebhard, Senior Lecturer, said:

“Professor White impressed us all with his acute awareness of the current strengths and needs of our University. His ideas on how we might further develop over the coming years were creative and exciting. His clear emphasis on building a sense of trust and community within the University will I am sure resonate well with staff and students alike. I am very much looking forward to what the future under his leadership will bring.”

Stephanie Lear, a member of Professional Services staff and Head of Individual Philanthropy in the Department of Development and Alumni Relations said:

“Professor White shared with us his extensive prior experience of working with Professional Services, external partners and the alumni community. As the diversification of income to universities becomes critical, he outlined a compelling vision as to how he would lead from the front and put Bath in the best possible position. We look forward to introducing him to our alumni and friends community both in the UK and overseas.”

Professor White will take up his position on 8 April 2019, ensuring a smooth transition from the current Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bernie Morley.  

Further information

Professor Ian White will join the University of Bath as its seventh Vice-Chancellor on 8 April 2019. He is currently Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University, van Eck Professor of Engineering, and Head of the Centre for Photonics Systems in the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge.

He gained his BA and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge, England in 1980 and 1984. He was then appointed a Research Fellow and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Cambridge before becoming Professor of Physics at the University of Bath in 1990. In 1996 he moved to the University of Bristol and became Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1998, before returning to the University of Cambridge in October 2001.

Ian White has built up a substantial research activity in the field of optoelectronics and optical communications. Highlights of his research have included: the first negative chirp electroabsorption modulator and the invention of a technique for transmitting radio frequency signals over long distances of multimode optical fibre. Several of these advances have already made commercial impact, the offset launch technique for enhancing the bandwidth of optical fibre links having already been adopted within Gigabit Ethernet standard. He has published in excess of 1000 journal and conference papers.

A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, he is heavily involved in policy development and administration of research and sits on a number of International Conference Committees. He is a co-founder of Zinwave and PervasID.

The Committee on the Office of Vice-Chancellor is a Joint Committee of Council and Senate, chaired by the Chancellor. It is responsible for making recommendations to Council and Senate on the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the University. The Committee oversaw a process of consultation and engagement involving all sections of the University community with a final interview conducted by members of Council, representatives of academic and professional services staff and the President of the University of Bath Students’ Union. The consultation process also informed the recommendations and decisions made by the Remuneration Committee of University Council in relation to the terms and conditions of employment of the new Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor will not be a member of this committee.

The details of the remuneration agreed with Professor White for when he takes up the role of Vice-Chancellor are as follows: