Professor Stephen Toope resigns as Vice-Chancellor

Toope will complete his final year as Vice-Chancellor, stepping down in September 2022, after five years in the role

#CambridgeUniversity stephen toope Students university vice-chancellor

Professor Stephen J Toope, the 364th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge has today (20/09) announced to the University Council his decision to step back from the role, citing the “upheaval of Covid” which has led him to “reassess [his] own years ahead from a personal perspective.”

Toope, a Canadian ex-pat, explained that separation from his “children and grandchildren by closed borders has been hard,” acknowledging that being near family is “more important than ever” given the upheaval of the past year and a half.

The role of Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge is traditionally elected by the Regent House for a term of up to seven years; upon completing his final year in September 2022, Toope will have held the role for five years.

In an email to university staff, Toope said of his remaining time in the role that “it remains of course an extraordinary experience to serve this great university as its Vice-Chancellor, and a tremendous honour to work with colleagues across the collegiate university and beyond – one that I am proud and enthusiastic to continue for another full year.”

Since his election to the position in 2017, the university has developed its first foundation year program, leading progress in widening access and participation, and seen the launch and integration of Cambridge Zero.

Toope is committed to continued recovery in the coming year, insisting “there is still much to do through our programme of recovery from the pandemic.”

Of his plan for the 2021/22 academic year, Toope added: “I am fully committed to focusing on the priorities set by the University Council. The leadership transition next year will not detract from my commitment to the important work we have underway this year. The strength of our senior leadership and all our University community, the guidance of the Council, and the eventual choice of a highly able successor will allow me to pass the baton without missing a beat.”

Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “I totally understand and fully respect Professor Toope’s decision, taken for the best of reasons, to complete his term of office in September 2022.”

He continued: “I know this is not a decision he will have made lightly, but he can do it in the knowledge that he has left his mark on the university, and contributed to making it an even better place to study, work and undertake research. His leadership throughout the pandemic has been essential to getting Cambridge through the biggest crisis of our times, and I am grateful for his dedication and commitment over the past four years.”

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge commented: “I am very sorry that Professor Toope has decided to cut short his term of office. He has led the University through an extremely difficult time with grace, courage and dignity.”

Feature image credits: Youtube

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