Keynote 2: Kathryn Mitchell

Saturday 9th July
9:00 – 10:00

‘Education Leadership:  The theory and the practice of leading and developing a large, global university’

In its Business Plan 2015-2020, HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, states that its aim is to create and sustain the conditions for a world-leading system of higher education which transforms lives, strengthens the economy, and enriches society.

In a context of increasing global competition, reducing financial resources and a growing focus on teaching quality, accountability and performance, the demands placed upon University Vice-Chancellors are unprecedented.

Combining the role of Chief Executive of a multi-million pound global organisation, with that of being an Education Leader with the potential to transform thousands of lives, demands vision, energy, toughness and a sense of humour. The opportunities presented by the role are huge but the risks potentially disastrous.

In this presentation, I will consider aspects of leadership styles and reflect on my approach to the practical task of leading and developing a large University since taking up my current post in 2015.

I will outline some of the unexpected challenges that I have encountered on the path to creating a successful global organisation, as well as considering the factors which have led to significant successes.

Finally, I will reflect on what I have learnt in terms of leadership, and attempt to draw out aspects of leadership applicable across the whole of the education sector.


Kathryn Mitckath-mitchellhell joined the University of Derby as Vice-Chancellor in September 2015. She was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of West London (UWL) with special responsibility for academic provision and quality across the University.

Professor Mitchell has studied at the Universities of York and London, and worked at the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute, New York and the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel. She is a chartered psychologist and plays an active role within the Institute for Practice and Interdisciplinary Research (INSPIRE), supervising and directing a range of research programmes. She is married with two children.