Professor Peter McCaffery takes the reins at the RAU

13 Sep 2021

Professor Peter McCaffery has been appointed as Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) for the new academic year 2021-22, replacing Professor Jo Price who left last month.

Professor McCaffery, who has been Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the RAU since January, has worked in the higher education sector for more than 35 years and has leadership, management, teaching, and research experience across a range of institutions from further education colleges to USA Ivy League universities.

The son of a coal miner, Peter was born in Durham and attended St. Bede's RC Grammar School in Lanchester, County Durham, before going on to study History at Ulster University. He lives in Surrey and is married to Carol with whom he has two grown-up sons.

Awarded a PhD by the London School of Economics, Peter was an Idlewild Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania where he pioneered new modes of inquiry into American urban political corruption with particular reference to Philadelphia. He has previously served as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Cumbria, and as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at London Metropolitan University.

He said: “It is a great privilege to be asked to lead this historic institution. As the very first agricultural college in the English-speaking world, the RAU has been developing leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs since 1845. Our mission today bears testament to the foresight of our founders.

“I am very much looking forward to building on the work of Professor Price and working with all my colleagues to equip a new generation of graduates to meet the most pressing challenges that face us in the world today – climate change, food security, sustainable land use, biodiversity, heritage management, and many more.

“The RAU’s raison d’etre is the survival of humankind – there is no higher calling than that. We are proud of our heritage and we aim to be as societally relevant in the future as we have been in the past.”

Peter was appointed as a Winston Churchill Fellow in 1997 and was also a Universities UK nominee to the Cabinet Office Top Management Programme. He has acted as a consultant for a variety of bodies including the British Council, the Governments of Botswana and Jamaica, and the Centre for HE in Germany. He is also a Trustee of Holland Park School Academy in west London.

He was awarded a National Leadership Fellowship by the Leadership Foundation for HE and pioneered a Wider Management Mentoring Programme at London South Bank University for the university’s BME managers, in partnership with the public and private sector. He led the equality and diversity team whose work was showcased by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) in their Sustaining Excellence in HE Review.

Peter is also the UK editor, author, and collaborator for the Epigeum (Oxford University Press) project that pioneered the first world-class online programme with global reach on university leadership and management development, a derivative of his book: The HE Manager’s Handbook: Effective Leadership and Management in Universities and Colleges.

An American historian by background, Peter was a regular analyst for Sky News during the years of the Trump presidency. In his spare time, Peter is an international masters' swimmer!

Professor Jonathan Kydd, Chair of the Governing Council of the RAU, welcomed Professor McCaffery’s appointment. Professor Kydd said: “Peter is well known to the RAU staff having served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor during the tough pandemic year. He has an outstanding track record as a university leader and his understanding of the evolving landscape for higher education is second to none.”

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor role at the RAU has been taken by Professor Neil Ravenscroft who was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor International at the Cirencester-based university.