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What does it mean to be a Dean? Imperial's newly elected Deans talk about their new role

By Laura Gallagher
Friday 1 September

Three Imperial academics take up new roles as Deans and Senior Dean today.

Professor Jeff Kramer in the Department of Computing is the new Dean for the Faculty of Engineering and the Business School, taking over from Professor Dick Kitney in Bioengineering, who becomes the Senior Dean. Professor Jackie de Belleroche in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience is the new Dean for the Faculty of Medicine (Non-Clinical).

The College has six Deans, who are Professors elected by senior academic members of the area which they represent. They act on behalf of their colleagues as spokespeople for academic opinion and they chair the appropriate Studies Committees in their area.

We asked Professors Kramer and de Belleroche what their new role means to them.

Professor Jeff Kramer, Dean for the Faculty of Engineering and the Business School

Professor Jeff Kramer

What are you hoping to bring to your new role?

I have been at the College for over 30 years in almost every possible role, from student to Professor and from Director of Studies to Head of Department. I hope that this breadth of experience of academic life here, tempered by a sense of humour in dealing with everyone, will provide me with the right background for the job. I like new roles and interesting challenges, so enthusiasm is probably another characteristic that I would hope to contribute.

What, for you, will be the most interesting aspect of it?

The main responsibility of a Dean is to maintain our high academic standards and to preserve our academic ethos across the College. What exactly this means and how it can be achieved is still a mystery to me. I look forward to discovering all the aspects that contribute to our standards and ethos, and in trying to formulate ways in which these may be improved.

What part of your new role do you expect to find the most challenging?

A major challenge in Engineering is to encourage more students into our discipline, and to recognise the excitement that it offers.

The quality of our academic staff is clearly critical. Appointments and promotions are key processes in finding and retaining good people. I look forward to gaining greater insight into the promotions and appointments process across the College, but recognise that a major challenge will be in dealing with subjects about which I know nothing.

Professor Jackie de Belleroche, Dean for the Faculty of Medicine (Non-Clinical)

Professor Jackie de Belleroche

What are you hoping to bring to your new role as Dean?

I come to this position with substantial experience and a strong commitment to teaching and research in Medicine especially in the area of Neuroscience. I have had the chance to engage in a number of international collaborations both in academia in Europe and the US and with industry in the UK and most recently in India and I think that this provides a valuable perspective of what can be achieved in research and potentially translated to treatment. In my new role as representative of the academic community, I hope to facilitate and support the success of the College as a world leader in scientific achievement.

What, for you, will be the most interesting aspect of your new role?

This is a very active phase in strategic development within the Faculty of Medicine with the move towards the formation of an Academic Health Sciences Centre between St Mary's and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trusts and Imperial College London, the consolidation of research and teaching on the Hammersmith Campus with "state of the art" facilities and the ongoing development of new strategic initiatives in research and teaching taking place on all College campuses.

What part of your new role do you expect to find the most challenging?

I know that this will be an active and challenging time, which will include a highly significant period in the history of the College with the celebration of its Centenary, but that is also what is most appealing about the position and I look forward to meeting the challenges.