The government recently announced twelve university departments that are deemed to be outstanding are to have the prestigious title of Regius Professor bestowed upon them by The Queen to mark the Diamond Jubilee. The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, and the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, Chloe Smith, recently wrote to the successful institutions to inform them of the awards.
A Regius Professorship is a rare privilege, with only two created in the past century. It is a reflection of the exceptionally high quality of teaching and research at an institution. Each institution will assign the title to an existing Professor at the chosen department or will appoint a new professor to take the chair and hold the title.
The Queen will bestow the awards after taking advice from ministers, who were in turn advised by a panel of eminent academics led by Sir Graeme Davies, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of London.
When universities were invited to apply, six new Regius Professorships had been planned. However, the twelve winning submissions were judged by the panel to have been of exceptionally high quality and Ministers and The Queen agreed that twelve should be awarded.
The new posts of Regius Professor are:
- University of Dundee – Life Sciences
- Imperial College, London – Engineering
- London School of Economics and Political Science – Economics
- The Open University – Open Education
- University of Manchester – Physics
- Royal Holloway, University of London – Music
- University of Essex – Political Science
- King’s College London – Psychiatry
- University of Reading – Meteorology and Climate Science
- University of Southampton – Computer Science
- University of Surrey – Electronic Engineering
- University of Warwick – Mathematics
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said:
I was incredibly impressed by the quality and range of the applications received and am delighted that twelve new Regius Professorships are to be created. Together, the successful applications demonstrated an exceptionally high level of achievement in both teaching and research.
"It is testament to the quality and strength of our higher education sector that so many universities were considered worthy of such a distinguished honour."
Chloe Smith, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:
I have been bowled over by the response from universities. The submissions we received were incredibly strong, which is why we advised The Queen to create twice as many Regius Professorships than originally planned.
"The twelve institutions can consider themselves truly deserving of this great honour."
In the past, Regius Professorships were created when a university chair was founded or endowed by a Royal patron. Before recently, they were limited to a handful of the ancient universities of the United Kingdom and Ireland, namely Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Dublin.
The title of Regius Professor has notably been held by the late historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, and the 18th century poet Thomas Gray, who was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.
The creation of Regius Professorships falls under the Royal Prerogative, and each appointment is approved by the Monarch on ministerial advice. Only two others have been awarded in the last century, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009. Before then, the most recent Regius Professorship was created by Queen Victoria.