Keith George: From undergrad to Pro Vice-Chancellor



Coming to LJMU can be so attractive you never want to leave!

Sport science graduate Keith George is one of many LJMU alumni who have stayed, or come back again, forging successful careers in academia.

Keith, who completed his degree in 1987 studying at Byrom Street, has recently been confirmed as full-time Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, having carried out the role part-time since 2020.

He has succeeded in significantly raising the profile of research across the university, presiding over our best-ever REF results earlier this year.

Role models

But despite going straight into a teaching role after graduating, he confesses he never thought he’d be sitting at the top table of a leading university. “As a student here in the 80s, I had some great role models like Tom Reilly and Don Maclaren but you don’t really think about one day being a ‘Professor’ yourself and contributing to the research culture.”

Keith is not a LJMU ‘lifer’ – he departed to another leading sport science team for more than a decade - but was back in 2002 and progressed from Reader to Head of RISES to Associate Dean for Research before the role was elevated to PVC level.

Now he is overseeing unprecedented growth in LJMU research culture and output which culminated in a superb 73.1% of submissions rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’ in the latest Research Excellence Framework, an exercise where LJMU showed its quality and its quantity with 600 colleagues entered.

As a result, we celebrated a significant boost in quality-related funding – a 52% rise - which ranked us 5th in research income growth among larger institutions.

Identity

The Vice-Chancellor and Board of Governors are adamant that RKE is a fundamental pillar of our strategic plan and our identity as a university.

“Both research and knowledge exchange are what makes a university a university,” declares Prof George. “When you consider LJMU’s strengths, it has an impressive staff and PGR student base that actively creates cutting-edge knowledge which is contributing to curriculum development and student employability as well as feeding external partnerships, national agendas, international collaborations and transformative impact.

“Now we have a really solid base with very good REFs behind us, the next step is to continue to grow, support excellent research and knowledge exchange across the entire university and to demonstrate our impact.

“We have some excellent impact case studies and videos on our Impact Hub and we need to continue to promote our stories to demonstrate this influence in the wider industrial, societal, educational and health areas.”

Great expectations

And if he were a student here again, what would he be expecting from LJMU?

“I think it’s always about opportunity and quality of experience. We can demonstrate that in abundance. Also, I think the way LJMU is embracing agendas, such as climate change and equality, diversity and inclusion is important for the expectations and experiences of students coming to here now.”



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