The University of Birmingham has appointed a new Vice-Principal who will succeed Professor Michael Clarke on his retirement in 2008.

Professor Michael Sheppard, who is currently Dean of the University’s Medical School, fought off tough external competition throughout the selection process to win the role.

As a key member of the Medical School’s management team, an active researcher with a particular interest in thyroid disease, and an honorary consultant at University Hospital Birmingham, Michael Sheppard is used to juggling responsibility.

Now Michael is to take on a key role in leading the University through an ambitious period of organisational change – or, more properly, two roles.

Professor Sheppard will initially take up the post of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Staffing and Resources from 1 October 2007, before succeeding Michael Clarke as Vice-Principal in September 2008.

Professor Sheppard’s career at Birmingham began in 1982, when he was appointed as a senior lecturer in the Medical School. While maintaining his research interests, he has subsequently served as the Head of the Division of Medical Sciences, Vice-Dean and, since January this year, Dean of the Medical School.

As someone who came to the University partly because of its research excellence, Michael Sheppard is passionate that the University continues to reinforce that reputation.  He comments:  “All Universities will say their aspirations are for excellence in teaching and research and that they want to have a global position in higher education.  What we need to make Birmingham special is to focus on the areas in which we excel.”

Having a role that spans the NHS and the University has provided a clear understanding of the University’s need to engage with external partners, a key element of the role of Vice-Principal, as is acting as deputy to the Vice-Chancellor. 

On the appointment, Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Sterling said: “I am delighted that Michael Sheppard has accepted the position of Vice-Principal, and that he joins the senior management team at this critical time in shaping the University’s future.  Our Strategic Plan envisages focusing on selecting strategically important areas to us where we can be truly world class.  We are sharpening up our organisational structure to put academic endeavour at the heart of strategic decision-making, enabling us to be swifter to respond to opportunities.   Michael’s combined strengths as an active researcher and an inspiring leader will prove invaluable.”

Michael Sheppard is clearly enthused by the challenges that lie ahead:

“I’m used to looking after patients and spending time in the clinic; that has been my career and I still enjoy it very much. In one sense the new role will be a great change – but my involvement with academic medicine and teaching will help to make it a less seismic shift. I certainly think the skills I’ve learnt as a clinician in making some very difficult decisions using the best evidence available will be needed in the new role.”

Professor Michael Clarke, the current Vice-Principal, has held the post since 2003, and came to the University in 1993 as Head of the School of Public Policy, before being appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 1998.  Professor Clarke retires in September 2008.



Professor Michael Sheppard:

Graduated from the University of Cape Town with MBChB (Hons), and was later awarded a PHD in Endocrinology

First post at the University of Birmingham was a Wellcome Trust Senior Lectureship in 1982, then subsequently held the roles of the William Withering Professor of Medicine, Head of the Division of Medical Sciences, Vice-Dean and most recently, Dean and Head of School of Medicine.

Holds main clinical and research interests in thyroid diseases and pituitary disorders.

Holds honorary consultant status at the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and is a member of the Chief Executives Advisory Group and a member of the new Hospital Planning Group of the same trust. 

Is a Non-Executive Director at Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Published over 230 papers in peer reviewed journals and has lectured at national and international meetings, particularly the UK, Europe and the USA Endocrine Societies. He has been a visiting Professor to a number of centres in the USA, Australia and South Africa and is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the European Society of Endocrinology, chair of the board of the European Journal of Endocrinology, and treasurer of the UK Society of Endocrinology.

Is a founder fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, has been a Council Member at Censor and Lumleian Lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians, and is President (Elect) of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland.

Organisational Change at the University of Birmingham:

In 2005, the University published its Strategic Framework 2005-2010, which outlined the ambitions that would assure a position of strength for the University.

The Framework recognises that we live and work in times of great change, and few areas are changing faster than higher education. New technology, globalisation and radical changes in funding have prompted a sea-change in the way in which universities carry out their business.

The University of Birmingham will:

invest in areas of internationally significant research that have an impact on contemporary society

create a teaching environment that promotes critical thinking, so that our students are enquiry-led learners, recognised by employers for their intellectual calibre

foster a global perspective in our teaching and research activities, preparing students for work in the global economy and encouraging research that has international impact

welcome the expertise of leaders from business and industry to inform the development of the University's education portfolio

The University's current structure includes 19 academic schools, none of which are directly represented on the management board. The University is now in a transitional year leading to the adoption of a 5-College model, where Heads of College will join the senior management team. The re-organisation will:

put academic endeavour at the heart of strategic decision-making

result in fewer administrative boundaries, enabling a swift response to opportunities and greater cross-disciplinary working

create a less hierarchical structure, with greater devolution of authority and responsibility into academic units

strengthen working relationships between academic and professional members of staff

Further information:

Rachel Burrows – Head of Communications, University of Birmingham

Tel: 0121 414 6681 / mob: 07789 921165 / email: