robed university staff at a graduation ceremony

How is Lancaster University governed and managed?

The University is led by the Executive Team. Find out more about how we are governed and managed.


The Vice-Chancellor's Executive Team supports the Vice-Chancellor in delivering the University's Strategy and in the operational management of the University.

Beyond this team is the University's governing body, The Council, comprising a larger group drawn from academia and beyond. The Council is chaired by the Pro-Chancellor.

The Vice-Chancellor is also supported by the University Management Advisory Group (UMAG) which exists to advise the Vice-Chancellor and the senior officers in the exercising of their delegate powers.

The Chancellor and Chancellor's Ambassador

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn became Chancellor of Lancaster University on 1 January 2015. He succeeded the University's second Chancellor, mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington CVO CBE DL, who continues his involvement with the University in the new role of Chancellor’s Ambassador.

The Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Pro-Chancellors

Lord Liddle of Carlisle has been Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council at Lancaster University since July 2013.

Professor John Garside and the Rt Hon Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones DCMG are the University's Deputy Pro-Chancellors.

Vice-Chancellor's Executive Team

The Vice-Chancellor's Office is responsible for the leadership and strategy of the University.

Professor Steve Bradley
Professor Steve Bradley

Interim Vice-Chancellor

Professor Steve Bradley

Professor Bradley was the former Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) prior to becoming Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor in January 2019 and Interim Vice-Chancellor in October 2019. Steve Bradley is a Professor of Economics. He was educated at Leeds Metropolitan University and Lancaster University from which he holds masters and doctorate degrees. Prior to his entry to academia, Steve spent ten years working in Local Government as a member of the Education Department of Lancashire County Council.

His research interests fall into two areas – Education Economics and Labour Economics. He has published widely on issues related to the operation and impact of introducing a quasi-market in the secondary education sector, and the econometric analysis of educational policy. Published work in the field of Labour Economics includes the employer selection and recruitment, tests of theories of labour market matching, the effect of employment protection on worker effort.

Recently, he has, in conjunction with colleagues in the Department of Economics at Lancaster, completed a Nuffield Foundation-funded project evaluating the impact of the specialist schools policy on educational and labour market outcomes. Professor Bradley's current research interests focus on the determinants of youth unemployment and economic inactivity for Britain, Italy and Spain, the effect of teaching quality on the educational attainment of secondary school pupils and the analysis of transition behaviour in the adult labour market. 

Senior Executive Officer: Michelle Needham
+44 (0)1524 592001

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Engagement)

Professor Dame Sue Black

Professor Dame Sue Black is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement. She leads on the Knowledge Exchange Framework and the Civic University’s Agreement.  The University of Lancaster places equal weight on the quality of its teaching, its research and its engagement, as all are critical to the civic responsibility of a university in the 21st Century. She leads on the Eden North project and is the senior management link to the Students’ Union and the Chaplaincy. 

Sue is an anatomist and a forensic anthropologist by training and her career demonstrates the importance and impact of engagement whether that be with Government, non-Governmental agencies, the business community, investigative forces, funders, the media or the public.

She was the lead forensic anthropologist for the UK response to war crimes investigations in Kosovo and served tours in Sierra Leone, Grenada, Iraq and Thailand following the Asian tsunami. 

She has been awarded two police commendations for her work in Disaster Victim Identification training and for helping to secure convictions against perpetrators of child sexual abuse. 

Sue was awarded an OBE in 2001 and a DBE in 2016 for her services to forensic anthropology. 

She is a fellow and President of the Royal Anthropological Institute and a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Biology as well as the lifetime professor of Anatomy for the Royal Scottish Academy. Her research portfolio has secured over £22M of funding and she is the author of 14 text books and in excess of 150 peer reviewed publications. She is also the author of the best-selling popular book ‘All that remains’.

Professor Dame Sue Black on Twitter 

Personal Assistant: Sadie Spence
Tel: +44 (0)1524 594164

Professor Dame Sue Black
Professor Dame Sue Black

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development)

Professor Stephen Decent

Stephen Decent is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development), responsible for planning, staffing, academic departments and colleges. 

Stephen Decent is a Professor of Applied Mathematics. He completed his BSc in Mathematics in 1992 at Brunel University and a PhD at the University of St Andrews in 1995. He moved to the University of Birmingham in 1995 as a Research Fellow, becoming a Lecturer there in the following year. He became Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Birmingham in 2006. In 2009, he became Head of School of Mathematics, and then later took on the additional role of Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

In 2012, Stephen moved to the University of Dundee to become Vice-Principal and Head of College of the College of Art, Science and Engineering. Stephen was also Director of the Northern Research Partnership, an engineering research pool in Scotland. Stephen was additionally the Chair of the Board of Scotland's newly created Offshore Renewables Institute.

In 2014, Stephen moved to Lancaster University to take on the role of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise). He is the Chair of the Strategic Executive Group of the N8, a research partnership between the universities of Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, York, Newcastle and Durham. In 2019, he became Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development).

Stephen's research interests cover a range of multi-disciplinary interactions, especially with chemical engineering. Stephen is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Personal Assistant: Joanne Naylor
Tel: +44 (0)1524 592096

Professor Stephen Decent
Professor Stephen Decent

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Digital, Global and Development)

Professor Simon Guy

Professor Simon Guy’s remit is to develop, connect and lead Lancaster University’s digital, global and development strategy. He is leading on the establishment of the University’s new campus in Leipzig and continuing to develop our China campus, while also strengthening connections between all our international partnerships including Ghana and Malaysia. He also leads on our digital agenda, ensuring our infrastructure and operational processes are digitally enabled to promote agility and efficiency and that digital innovation underpins our academic practices. Simon is the major lead across all of our development, alumni and fundraising work, oversees the library and he is the University lead on sustainability.

Simon’s previous role was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at Lancaster University (2014-19) and in 2017-18 he was seconded as Interim Principal/CEO for University Academy 92 to lead the establishment of the new campus and curriculum.   

Previously in Simon’s career, he was Head of the School of Environment, Education and Development and founding Director of the Manchester Architecture Research Centre at the University of Manchester (2005-14). Prior to that, he was Dean of Research at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Newcastle.

Simon’s career began as an engineer before beginning his academic life pursuing studies in the humanities and social sciences, followed by a research career which has focused upon sustainable design and urbanism, where his interdisciplinary and international research connects architecture with urban planning, the property sector with utilities, academia with industry.

Professor Simon Guy on LinkedIn

Executive Assistant: Anita Formby-Barker
Tel: +44 (0)1524 592005

Professor Simon Guy
Professor Simon Guy

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

Professor Louise Heathwaite CBE FRSE

Professor Louise Heathwaite provides strategic leadership for the University in research and enterprise including developing the high-level strategy for research and ensuring the growth trajectory of research income in recent years is continued. She is the institutional lead for REF 2021.

Louise is a hydrochemist and Professor of Land and Water Science in the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.  She is recognised internationally as an authority on diffuse environmental pollution and in particular understanding the pathways of nitrogen and phosphorus loss from agricultural land to water, and the implications for freshwater quality.

She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours 2018 for services to scientific research and scientific advice to the government. In 2015, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in recognition of the distinguished contribution she has made to hydrology and to science-policy engagement. Louise’s long-term contribution to the discipline of hydrology led to her election in 2004 as Vice-President of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), which has over 7,000 members drawn from nearly 200 countries worldwide and, in 2017, she was elected President of the Freshwater Biological Association.

Louise has significant experience of both research council and government environments. She was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government on Rural Affairs, Food and Environment from 2012-17, and led NERC’s Sustainable Use of Natural Resources theme from 2008-12. She served on Defra’s Science Advisory Council from 2011-17 and is currently a member of NERC Council and the advisory board of the ISCF Transforming Food Production programme.

Executive Assistant: Anita Formby-Barker
Tel: +44 (0)1524 592005

Professor Louise Heathwaite
Professor Louise Heathwaite CBE FRSE

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education and EDI)

Professor Sharon Huttly

Professor Sharon Huttly is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and EDI, and Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Research. Sharon joined Lancaster in 2014 as PVC Education to provide strategic leadership in education for the University, including provision with partners in the UK and internationally. She is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the University’s education strategy, including enrichment of the student experience, and establishment of the University’s Institute for Curriculum Enhancement. Sharon is the senior team’s lead for Lancaster University Ghana and was part of the founding team for the University’s new initiative based in Manchester - UA92. Sharon also chairs the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and in 2019, to raise visibility of EDI in the institution, her responsibilities and title were extended accordingly.

Sharon joined Lancaster University from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where she was Dean of Studies responsible for learning and teaching. For over 20 years her research was principally concerned with child health and nutrition in low/middle-income countries, with a shift in recent years towards research in postgraduate education and online learning. She has worked extensively in South America, West Africa and Asia.

Sharon is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Teaching Excellence Framework panel and has served on various national working groups and committees including for the OfS, HEFCE, the QAA, the British Academy and the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission.

Personal Assistant: Victoria McDonald
Tel: +44 (0)1524 592121

Professor Sharon Huttly
Professor Sharon Huttly

Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary

Nicola Owen

Nicola Owen is the Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary at Lancaster University. Together with the Director of Finance, she leads the Professional Services at Lancaster. As CAO, she is the Head of Administration and has responsibility for the following administrative Divisions:

  • Strategic Planning & Governance
  • Recruitment, Admissions & International Development
  • Facilities
  • Human Resources and OED
  • Information Systems Services
  • Communications and Marketing
  • Alumni and Development
  • Research and Enterprise Services
  • Student Based Services

She also has responsibility, working together with the Deans, via the Faculty Managers, for the effective operation of the administration across the faculties and academic departments.

As Secretary she has responsibility for the operation of governance and support to Council as well as a number of other legal, governance and licensing roles.

Prior to moving to Lancaster University, Nicola was Deputy Registrar at the University of Warwick. 

Executive Assistant: Barbara Pilkington
Tel: +44 (0)1524 594600

Nicola Owen
Nicola Owen

Director of Finance

Sarah Randall-Paley BA, FCA

Sarah Randall-Paley has been Lancaster University’s Director of Finance since 2009. Together with the Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary, she leads the Professional Services at Lancaster. As Director of Finance, she is responsible for Finance and Procurement activities including financial management and control, financial reporting, preparation of data returns, audit preparation, treasury management and promoting value for money. She also supports the Vice-Chancellor in his wider responsibilities as designated Accountable Officer under the OfS regulatory framework.

Prior to joining Lancaster, Sarah studied English at Nottingham University and then worked in London to qualify as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG, working in audit and forensic accounting.

In 2010 Lancaster was successful in winning the ‘Outstanding Finance Team’ in the Times Higher Education Awards (THELMAs) and in the 2014 THELMAs Lancaster was shortlisted for ‘Outstanding Procurement Team’.

In addition to Director of Finance at Lancaster University, Sarah is Chair of the national British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG), Chair of the BUFDG Fraud Working Group, a co-opted member of the Audit Committee of UCAS and Governor and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee of Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School. 

Finance Divisional Assistant: Kathleen Parker
Tel: +44 (0)1524 592180

Sarah Randall-Paley
Sarah Randall-Paley BA, FCA

Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Projects

Dr Giles Carden

Giles joined Lancaster University’s Executive Team in October 2017 as Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Projects. Giles’ role is principally focussed on leading and coordinating major, transformational strategic initiatives, a recent example would be Lancaster University Leipzig; he also has responsibilities for HE policy matters. Giles also helps support the Vice-Chancellor in the coordination of activities across the Executive Team.

Giles’s academic background is the earth sciences, he undertook a PhD in geochemistry at the University of Liverpool and then a DAAD, Liebniz Prize funded fellowship at the Rhur-Universitaet Bochum in Germany.  Prior to joining Lancaster he undertook a range of different professional services roles at the University of Warwick, latterly occupying the role of Director of Strategic Planning and Analytics.

Giles has advised the THE on its world rankings design, was asked by Universities UK to serve on its Efficiency and Modernisation task groups, has chaired the HESA-Jisc Business Intelligence programme, served for five years on the Higher Education Strategic Planning Association Executive and was chair-elect of the Russell Group Directors of Strategic Planning until he left Warwick and the Russell Group for Lancaster. He is currently a member of the HE Data Landscape Steering Group and chairs the National REF Managers Group. 

Personal Assistant: Victoria McDonald
Tel: +44 (0)1524 592121

Dr Giles Carden
Dr Giles Carden

Vice-Chancellor's Office Administrative Team

The Vice-Chancellor's Executive Team is supported by the Vice-Chancellor's Office Administrative Team.

University Organisational Structure

Download the University Organisational Structure.