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Gib University appoints first ‘beacon professors’

Unite Union Press Call at the JMH(Photo John Bugeja) 23.03.17 Gibraltar Tony Woodhouse, a member of the Unite executive council in the UK, campaign relating to Ian McClusky. In pix Michael Netto

Minister for Education Dr John Cortes and University of Cambridge Professor of Mediterranean History David Abulafia have become the first Beacon Professors at the University of Gibraltar.
Their appointment were announced yesterday as they become part of the University’s first competitive professional appointment scheme. The Beacon Professors role is to lead, not as full time members of staff but as figures to inspire the students and those at the University as a whole.
It is hoped the Beacon Professors will bring further expertise and leadership to the University. The scheme is overseen by the Professional Appointments Committee made up of nine academics some whom were present yesterday.
“This is an extremely important landmark in the process of developing the University,” said Professor Christina Slade from the University’s Academic Board.
“Beacon Professors are unique to the University of Gibraltar and the title is symbolic role of the role the University hopes incumbents will undertake. It will represent the University’s mission to spread knowledge and to inspire our students.”
The selection process for the Beacon Professors was very robust and had an exclusive criteria.
“It is the University that is humbled by the status, knowledge and wisdom that our Beacon Professors bring to us,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Daniella Tilbury said.
“We are delighted to have had such support and most grateful to John and David for accepting our Beacon Professorships.”
She added: “I am humbled and most grateful to our colleagues who see our vision and can believe in what was can aspire to. That backing, belief and confidence enables us to take massive strides.”
Professor Abulafia was appointed due to his contribution to Mediterranean studies and his long-standing relationship with Gibraltar.
He is internationally renowned for his seminal work ‘The Great Sea: a human history of the Mediterranean’ which received great critical acclaim.
Professor Abulafia holds a number of international honours and awards and is an speaker at authoritative events across the world.
“Thank you very much, this is a great honour,” Professor Abulafia said.
“I am overwhelmed by this appointment which came as a delightful surprise. I come from a university which is celebrating its 800th anniversary and here we are setting up a university. This is not something that is just a flash in a pan. This is something which we hope will also last 800 years.”
“This is a commitment to the future, to the very long-term future.”
Professor Abulafia said it was a great privilege to work with the University.
Dr Cortes was recommended in recognition for his contributions in the fields of public engagement, knowledge exchange and consultancy. Last year Dr Cortes was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Kingston and was also previously awarded an MBE in honour of his contribution to conservation.
It is expected that in the course of the next academic year the newly appointed Beacon Professors will deliver their inaugural lectures at an event that will be open to the public.
Dr Cortes who was unable to attend the press conference tweeted his delight at the appointment.
“Honoured and humbled at this appointment. Fully committed to the University and its tremendous future,” Dr Cortes tweeted yesterday.

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