Professor Paul O'Prey CBE


Professor Paul O'Prey CBE has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Roehampton since 2004.

Professor Paul O'Prey CBE

Under his leadership, which began as Roehampton gained independent university status, the University has built upon the heritage of its four constituent Colleges to become a centre of excellence and innovation in teaching and research, and an organisation that values the wider student experience and the student voice.

The University's central purpose is to change lives by helping students to develop the confidence, knowledge and adaptability they need for a successful graduate career and fulfilling life, and this focus means that graduate employment prospects of Roehampton students are now at their highest level since the University was formed in 2004.

Today Roehampton is the most research-intensive modern university in the country, with world-class research taking place across all of its academic departments. It has a thriving community of students and staff, a close partnership with its Students’ Union and a flourishing global community of alumni, who mentor and support current students and one another.

The Vice-Chancellor has also led a transformation of the University’s campus over the last decade, most recently with the creation of a new world-class library, and Roehampton now offers students the community feel of a traditional university campus alongside excellent student facilities.

Professor O'Prey was made a Commander of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2016 for his services to higher education and the literary history of the First World War. He also holds honorary doctorates from the University of Bristol and Manhattanville College, New York. He has been elected by his peers to serve for three consecutive three-year terms on the Board of Universities UK.

He was formerly Director of Academic Affairs at the University of Bristol, and played a major role in the development and implementation of academic strategy at Bristol, in both research and education.

The Vice-Chancellor is now focussed on the implementation of a new Strategic Plan, prior to his planned retirement in August 2019.

Research interests

Professor O'Prey writes on nineteenth and twentieth century literature, with a particular expertise in literature and conflict, and the work of Robert Graves. Recent books include First World War, Poems from the Front, which was published by the Imperial War Museum in 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war. Other edited collections include Counter-Wave: Poetry of Rescue in the First World War, and individual collections by Mary Borden and Laurence Binyon. He translated with Lucia Graves the first English translation of the Spanish nineteenth century classic novel, The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazan, for Penguin Classics.

External appointments - current and previous

  • Member, Universities UK (UUK) Board;
  • Chair of the UUK Longer Term Strategy Group;
  • Sport England Higher Education Stakeholder Group;
  • Chair of Editorial Board of Despatches, journal of the Imperial War Museum;
  • Trustee, the Edward James Foundation;
  • Trustee, the Froebel Trust;
  • Higher Education Careers Services Unit Board (2006–13);
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England Strategic Advisory Committee on Leadership Governance and Management (2005–11);
  • London Higher Board (2006–09);
  • President of the War Poets Association (2007–13).