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Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL

Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL was Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University from 2016 to 2021.

During her tenure she oversaw a leap in the University’s learning and teaching standards, climbing from Bronze to the highest level of Gold under the Government’s Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). The resulting boost in confidence and morale in part led to the now ubiquitous “Proud to be Staffs”, a mantra repeated by students and staff alike, as well as on social media and other marketing channels.

Liz has also been at the forefront of Staffordshire University’s push to be the UK’s leading digital university, capable of delivering hyper personalised learning, and building on the institution’s long history of pioneering computing teaching. The University now has over 4,000 students on digital computing courses, including on the UK’s first e-sports degree and in groundbreaking fields such as AI and robotics.

Alongside her leadership of Staffordshire University and throughout her career, Liz has sat on and chaired multiple boards and working groups, and continues to be very active both locally and nationally. Among them was Universities UK, where she has championed social mobility and access to higher education for all, a central tenet of her career and that of Staffordshire University. She also led the future work force and skills advisory panel at the Local Skills and Enterprise Partnership Board (LEP).

Her ongoing positions include co-chair of the Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area, alongside fellow Staffordshire University honorary graduate Carol Shanahan OBE, which aims to support local schools to improve their performance. She also sits on the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Children’s Services Improvement Board and is a member of five multi-academy trusts.

She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2019, for services to higher education, recognising her work on social mobility nationally. In 2020, Liz became Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire, which recently involved chairing a group organising a platinum jubilee garden party to celebrate the contributions of organisations across the region during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Liz in recognition of her commitment to the role universities play as key drivers of social mobility, including Staffordshire University’s own position as a trail blazer in the field. The award also recognises her work to establish the “Connected University” identity, ensuring Staffordshire University’s prominence and market position as a digital innovator.

Photo of Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL

Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL was bestowed the award in 2022

The award came as such a surprise. I know the nomination came from a member of staff and it’s really lovely to know they felt I’d made a difference and wanted to recognise that. Staffordshire University is a big part of my heart and always will be.

Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL