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Ellie to leave the University; changes to Diversity Dean role

Ellie Highwood, co-Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Climate Physics, is leaving the University at the end of July. She has been with us for almost 26 years and felt that the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme offered her an opportunity to do something new.

“I came to Reading as a PhD student in 1993 and feel privileged to have been part of this amazing community over the years. In my own department, Meteorology, and across the University, I have had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, so many wonderful and committed colleagues and students.

“In particular, I am really proud of what we have achieved together for diversity. Nearly all our science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) Schools have renewed or won Athena SWAN awards and more women are now part of key University committees and the professoriate. Just as importantly, awareness of the strength and richness that diversity of experience and inclusive practices can bring to our organisation is higher than ever before.

"There is still much more to do of course, but I am confident that equality, diversity and inclusion activities are now part of everyday life at the University.  For me personally, now is the right time to explore using my diversity and inclusion knowledge and my coaching and mentoring skills in a different way, working for myself."

Ellie became a member of academic staff in the Department of Meteorology 2001, being promoted as a Professor in October 2011. She served as the President of the Royal Meteorological Society from October 2016 to September 2018.

In August 2015, she took on the responsibility of the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in a job-share with Simon Chandler-Wilde. It was the first job-share at the Leadership Group level at the University. Ellie’s first task was to successfully renew the University’s Athena SWAN award in 2016 and she has been co-leading the subsequent work with Simon since then. 

With the next University Athena SWAN application due for submission later this year, and its significant focus on professional and support staff, Karen Henderson, Director of Technical Services, has agreed to take on co-chairing the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team with Simon from 1 August 2019.

Ellie has also been leading on race equality work and the action plan in this area will be taken forward through to Christmas by a team from the Cultural Diversity Group and the Race Equality Action Team, working with Yasmin Ahmed (Diversity and Inclusion Advisor) and Simon. Interim arrangements are being put in place to cover other responsibilities of Ellie’s role, including support of the Personal Titles process.

Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort said, “I am grateful to Ellie for all her work. She has been a strong advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion at the University and has worked incredibly hard with Simon to establish mechanisms to support and develop our colleagues from all backgrounds. Equality, diversity and inclusion remain a major priority for the University, led by the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion working with colleagues across the University.  To support our work in the short term through to Christmas I am delighted that Karen Henderson has agreed to take on with Simon responsibility for co-chairing the Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team.”

Ellie’s departure means there will be changes to the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion role. Until the end of the year, Simon Chandler-Wilde will have the support of Karen Henderson on Athena SWAN and the continued support of Yasmin Ahmed, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor. Simon is due to begin a flexible retirement at the end of December, and the University will recruit in the coming months a new Dean for Diversity and Inclusion to start on 1 January 2020. This will be up to a 0.7 Full Time Equivalent role, reporting to Parveen Yaqoob, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), who is taking over the responsibility for managing the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion from 1 August 2019.

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