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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Carlisle-born academic who played key in university's development retires

The Carlisle-born academic who has played a key role in creating, running and developing a university in her home county retires at the end of the month.

Liz Beaty photo
Professor Liz Beaty

Professor Liz Beaty packed up her office at the University of Cumbria’s Fusehill Street campus this week but officially retires on New Year’s Eve – her 60th birthday.

The pro vice chancellor has latterly been responsible for building up the young university’s links across the region and raising its profile internationally.

Three weeks ago Prof Beaty was in China forging links with institutions that could result in increasing numbers of students travelling to Cumbria in the future.

She was also a member of the senior management team during the university’s first few turbulent years as it was forced to tackle a £30m financial crisis.

Prof Matthews joined the university in March 2008, six months after its formal creation.

Prior to that she had been working for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, in charge of the northern region.

The professor co-chaired a forum of key regional, economic and education figures who worked up plans that saw long-held ambitions for a Cumbrian university become a reality.

“I do feel like a mother hen about it [the university],” she said.

“I am proud for Carlisle and my colleagues. There are a lot of people here who are salt of the earth, professional and who have worked really hard and weathered storm after storm and carried on doing what they do well. They’ve never stopped and I’ve got a lot of respect for them all.

“The university is of course still quite young but it has matured. You can talk about the legacy institutions now without people wanting to rewrite history. It is no longer embarrassing to talk about the University of Cumbria and we can hold our heads high. I was in China three weeks ago and was able to talk completely openly and honestly about the university with pride and I felt good about that.”

She added: “The main reason for coming here was it is my home county. How could you not want to come and develop a brand new university for your home county?

“One of the highlights for me has been seeing Carlisle flourish. More and more students are coming to Carlisle and the effect they are having is marked. Over time the effect for businesses will also be marked; there is much more vibrancy around the city.”

The academic was educated at the Carlisle and County High School For Girls, which became St Aidan’s School when Prof Beaty was a sixth form student. She later moved to Essex to do her degree and Surrey for postgraduate studies before working in the Midlands, Brighton and the North East during her career.

The Lismore Place school is now the site where Prof Beaty will focus her educational efforts in future.

She remains a governor for the Richard Rose Academies. She will be chairman of the governing body at the Richard Rose Central Academy as part of a new structure of governance created to help the city’s struggling two academies.

She said: “I still have a lot of energy and I don’t like to leave things until I’m fully confident about them.

“I think it will be another two years for that school [Central Academy] to be the school it was intended to be. I want to be there when it gets there.”

Prof Beaty, who lives in Stainton near Penrith, will also continue to be a member of the Carlisle Cathedral council.

She is now looking forward to a family Christmas with her partner Professor Mike Sharples, who is an educational consultant, and their two grown-up daughters, Jenny and Evelyn.

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