Professor Paul O’Prey, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Roehampton has been appointed Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list for his services to higher education and the literary history of the First World War.
Posted: 11 June 2016
Professor Paul O'Prey, Vice-Chancellor
Since becoming Vice-Chancellor in 2004, Professor O’Prey has been instrumental in uniting the four colleges that make up the University of Roehampton, which was ranked London’s best modern university in all three major UK league tables in 2016: The Sunday Times University Guide, Guardian University Guide and Complete University Guide.
Under his leadership, Roehampton has built a reputation for combining widening participation and high achievement, with the diversity of the student population having grown substantially during his twelve years at Roehampton. The number of students from under-represented groups at Roehampton is now significantly higher than the national average*. At the same time, student success has increased notably during the same period, with the proportion of students getting a first or 2:1 degree having grown under Professor O’Prey’s tenure from 54% to over 70%*, and over 90% of graduates in work or further study six months after graduation.
Professor O’Prey has also led Roehampton’s rapid transformation into a research-intensive university. Two-thirds of staff at the University are research-active and 66% of their work has been independently judged as world-leading or internationally excellent*. The University of Roehampton is now recognised as the most research-intensive modern university in the country*.
Paul O’Prey comments on the accolade, “It is a huge honour for me personally and also a great accolade for the achievements of our wonderful university as we celebrate 175 years since the foundation of our oldest College – it is an enormous privilege to lead the University of Roehampton and I am intensely grateful to staff and governors for their incredible support.
“Going to university from a working-class background changed my life and I am very proud that today Roehampton is at the forefront of providing life-changing opportunities to very talented young people from the widest possible range of backgrounds and traditions. I am extremely proud of our academic strengths and of the commitment to openness and inclusion that continues to be at the heart of our mission.”
Sir David Bell, Pro Chancellor of the University and Chair of Council, said: “I am delighted for Paul, his family and for the University of Roehampton, which under Paul’s leadership goes from strength to strength.”
Professor O’Prey studied at Oxford and gained his PhD from Bristol in 1993. He spent sixteen years at the University of Bristol before joining the University of Roehampton in 2004. His publications include a number of books and articles on nineteenth and twentieth century writers, most notably on Robert Graves and the poets of the First World War. He is also, with Lucia Graves, the translator of the nineteenth century classic Spanish novel, The House of Ulloa, by Emilia Pardo Bazan. His external roles outside the university include the Board of Universities UK (UUK), and being Chair of UUK’s Longer Term Strategy Group. He is a Trustee of the Edward James Foundation and of the Froebel Trust, and chairs the editorial board of the Imperial War Museum’s journal, Despatches. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Bristol and Manhattanville College, New York.
The University of Roehampton’s former Principal of Whitelands College, Reverend Canon David Peacock was also listed in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. He will be awarded an OBE for his services to rehabilitation and reducing re-offending.
*Information derived through HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency).
**2008 Research Assessment Exercise and 2014 Research Excellence Framework, national exercises which asses the quality of research in higher education institutions.