Since taking up the position, Professor Barnes has overseen a vast programme of work that has led to Staffordshire University’s growing reputation as a globally connected, digital pioneer within the fields of education, research and enterprise.
When she steps down in December 2021, Professor Barnes will have spent 35 years in Higher Education. She has been Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at Staffordshire since April 2016, having previously been Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University and University of Derby, following a long career at Teesside University.
Professor Barnes’ career has been built around leading learning and teaching, with a focus on the student experience and a passion for creative and innovative approaches to enhance the student journey and achievements. Her enthusiasm for digital technologies and their transformative effect on the learner’s experience has been central to Staffordshire University’s ambition to become the UK’s foremost digital university.
With a commitment to universities playing their role in the community and supporting initiatives to improve the life chances of our young people, Professor Barnes has worked to put social mobility at the heart of Staffordshire University’s purpose.
Professor Barnes said: “Having been born and grown up in Staffordshire, it has been a great honour to lead Staffordshire University during the past five years.
“I will always be grateful that I have had this opportunity and have been able to impact on the lives of so many people. During my career I have had the great privilege to be part of some amazing networks of people, across Higher Education and much more widely, which have been humbling and also presented opportunities for me to grow personally.
“My constant throughout this journey here at Staffordshire has been to secure the role of our University in our sector and region. I am – will remain - ‘proud to be Staffs’.
“Whilst today I announce my retirement, there is still much to do before I leave, and I will be working with colleagues to put in place the plans we have made to further strengthen our University.
“I look forward to the opening of The Catalyst building in Stoke-on-Trent, the development of the Centre for Health Innovation at Stafford and the new Nursery and Forest School in Stoke-on-Trent, all symbols of what we can achieve, of our ambition and demonstrate our readiness for the future.”
Living in Staffordshire, Professor Barnes is a member of four Multi-Academy Trusts in the region and also one in London. She is Co-Chair of the Opportunity Area Partnership Board, sits on the Stoke-on-Trent Children’s Improvement Board and is a Director of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Skills and Enterprise Partnership Board.
Professor Barnes was appointed to the Order of the British Empire with a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2019 for services to higher education. In 2020, she became a Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire.
Colin Hughes, Chair of the Board of Governors at Staffordshire University, said: “During her time as Vice-Chancellor, Liz has created a ‘Connected University’ identity, and ensured that Staffordshire University regained its prominence and market position in the field of digital innovation.
“Furthermore, we are now widely recognised within the sector and beyond as a University that is willing to challenge the status quo, and seek to innovate for the benefit of staff, students, and the development of our region. I wish to place on record my thanks to Liz for her tremendous leadership.”
An international search for a new Vice-Chancellor will commence shortly.