Professor Helen James
As the Deputy Vice-Chancellor I support the Vice-Chancellor and have leadership responsibility for the overall academic strategy, planning and student experience of Canterbury Christ Church University. Since joining in September 2014, I have led the development of the region’s transformative Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise (EDGE) Hub, have been instrumental in realising our ambitious £65m Science, Technology, Health, Engineering and Medicine building, opening January 2021, and have influenced a culture of transparency and performance improvement across our academic portfolio and more generally, one which is holistic, inclusive and embraces high performance.
Prior to this, I was Pro Vice-Chancellor at Glyndwr University, where I held responsibilities including, learning & teaching, strategic planning, academic strategy, corporate services, quality and standards, business development, research and enterprise and led on major change including a merger with a specialist further education college. I was a member of the senior management team responsible for securing tDAPs and University title in 2008.
I have also held posts at University of Brighton, Highbury College of Technology and Furness College as well as in industry. I am a mechanical engineer with apprenticeship credentials and professional experience in manufacturing and armaments from Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd, and environmental and systems engineering from Marconi Space Systems. I was awarded Woman of the Year, 2005, for my contribution to Science, Engineering and Technology in Wales.
I have contributed to governance through board membership including for a science centre, multi academy trust (primary and secondary), Deeside Enterprise Zone (ministerial appointment), Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Trustee and Member of Council, Marketing Board, Education and Skills Strategy Board, Chair South East Region).
I am passionate about holistic and inclusive institutional strategies for leading change, widening participation and student retention and success. I continue to contribute to academic research, policy and professional practice in these areas and am Professor of Higher Education Policy and Practice and prior to this was Professor of Widening Participation & Social Justice at Glyndwr University. I have a Doctorate in Higher Education Management (University of Bath), Masters in Education (University of Sussex) and First Degree in Engineering (University of Leicester).
I have maintained a deep commitment to women in science, engineering and technology throughout my professional career, including establishing the WISE in Sussex network. I am actively engaged in leadership mentoring and coaching and believe we all have the power to make a difference.
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What are your current priorities?
I am currently leading a piece of work to close the black and ethnic minority attainment gap across the institution. This is a significant piece of work, requiring a whole institutional approach, with staff and student voice at its heart. My second key priority is the development of the EDGE Hub for which we have secured over £13.5m in public and private funding. My third key priority is transforming our student experience, improving student outcomes and delivering a more effective and efficient academic portfolio.
What inspires you about Christ Church?
The strong people-centred approach and willingness to collaborate and make change to improve students and staff experiences. People are passionate about the institution.
E : Professor Helen James | T : 01227 782705
Gina Potts, 01227 922477