On behalf of the University Council, Chair George Garlick said: “The appointment of Professor Petley is key to enabling the University to take forward our Strategy 2030. We are delighted to welcome him to lead on our ambitious plans. The Panel were impressed with his commitment to our values of social justice and environmental sustainability, and we look forward to him joining in the summer.”
Professor Petley said “I’m delighted and deeply honoured to be taking up the role of Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull. It is an institution with a very strong academic community and deep connections with the Humber and East Yorkshire region. I see many opportunities ahead and I am greatly looking forward to working with staff and students to take forward the ambitious new University Strategy.”
Professor Susan Lea said “My warmest congratulations to Professor Petley on his appointment. It has been my great privilege to serve as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, and I would like to thank our students, staff and partners for all their support over the last five years. I look forward to working with Professor Petley over the summer to ensure a smooth transition, and I offer him and the University my very best wishes for every success in the future.”
A geographer and earth scientist with more than 30 years’ experience in higher education, Professor Petley began his academic career in roles at the University of Sunderland and the University of Portsmouth before moving to the University of Durham in 2000. Professor Petley’s research focuses on natural and environmental hazards, and he was appointed the inaugural Wilson Professor of Hazard and Risk at Durham in 2006. He is widely recognised as a world leader in the study and management of landslides and, alongside advising national and international organisations on the management of slopes, has for over a decade maintained a popular blog on landslides which receives over 500,000 individual visits per year.
While at Durham, Professor Petley held leadership roles including Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Dean of Research and Dean of Global Engagement. In 2014, he joined the University of East Anglia as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise before moving in 2016 to become Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, where he has led the development of a new research strategy, the formation of four new research institutes and a transformation of the University’s approach to commercialisation.
Professor Petley took up his current role at Sheffield in early 2020 to establish innovation as a key strategic focus for the institution. As Vice-President for Innovation, he is responsible for knowledge exchange, impact and the University’s regional programme. He also provides Executive Board level leadership of the Advanced Manufacturing Group, is a founding Non-Executive Director of Northern Gritstone, an investment company supporting research commercialisation in the north of England, and has led the development of the University of Sheffield Innovation District.