Exeter appoints first Vice-President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (People and Culture)

Professor Rajani Naidoo has been appointed as the inaugural Vice-President and Deputy Vice -Chancellor (People and Culture) at the University of Exeter.

Professor Naidoo joins Exeter from the University of Bath, where she is currently Vice President (Community and Inclusion). Professor Naidoo will officially take up the role at the start of 2024.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (People and Culture) is a new role leading the development and implementation of the “Our People” theme of the University’s Strategy 2030.

Professor Naidoo will have overall responsibility for championing and driving a step change in Exeter’s wellbeing, inclusion and culture priorities across the whole University community. She will also co-chair our Wellbeing, Inclusivity and Culture Committee with Imelda Rogers, Executive Director of Human Resources.

 Speaking about her appointment, Professor Naidoo said: “I am delighted to be joining the University of Exeter at such a pivotal, exciting and successful time. The people within our university communities are at the very heart of everything we do, and not only provide a nurturing and supportive environment for everyone to flourish, but help deliver the solutions to some of the major global challenges ahead.  

The University of Exeter’s pivotal Strategy 2030 provides a clear vision and goals to drive real change towards ensure a greener, healthier and fairer society for us all. I feel privileged to be working wirth colleagues who have already shown such strong commitment to strengthen the University’s commitment to ensuring an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment for everyone.” 

Professor Naidoo is Co-Director of the International Centre for Higher Education Management and holds a UNESCO Chair. She has chaired the University of Bath’s Race Equality Taskforce and was also the Academic Lead for the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Higher Education Management which has a global reputation and attracts senior university leaders from more than 50 countries, while also led the development of the Future Leaders Initiative, a unique doctoral programme in partnership with the South African government, the British Council and Nelson Mandela University to build leadership capacity in South African universities.

Professor Naidoo, an expert in Higher Education Management, is featured in the Stanford/Elsevier top 2 per cent most highly cited scholars in her field. Her research is interdisciplinary and multi-level, focussing on the influence of global, national, and organisational forces on research, teaching, and the wider role of the university in society.

She has been involved in multi-national research projects on the changing academic profession, international higher education partnerships, and the contribution of higher education to social justice; and has presented keynotes at major conferences in numerous countries. She is Visiting Professor, Chair for Critical Studies in HE Transformation at Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, and sits on advisory and steering committees for organisations including the British Council and the European Foundation for Management Development and several journal editorial boards. She is co-editor of a book series on global higher education for Palgrave Macmillan.