The University of Southampton has been awarded a rare professorship, bestowed by The Queen, to mark its excellence in the field of Computer Science.
Southampton is one of a handful of universities to receive the prestigious title Regius Professor which reflects the institution’s exceptionally high quality of teaching and research. The University will assign the title to an existing Professor or will appoint a new professor to take the chair and hold the title.
When universities were invited to apply, six new Regius Professorships had been planned to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. However, Southampton’s winning submission and those of 11 other universities were judged by the panel to have been of exceptionally high quality and government Ministers and The Queen agreed that twelve should be awarded. Before today, the awarding of Regius Professorships were limited to a handful of the ancient universities of the United Kingdom and Ireland, namely Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Dublin.
University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam says: “We are incredibly proud of the recognition that this award of Regius Professor brings to the pioneering work of our computing scientists over many decades. The University of Southampton continues to set the standard as one of the leading places in the world for computing science research and education, as our academics and researchers continue to blaze a trail for the future exploration of computing, intelligent systems and the World Wide Web.”
Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Dean of the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences and former Head of Electronics and Computer Science says: “This is a fantastic honour for us. It pays tribute to the many people who have supported the development of Computer Science at Southampton over the years including Vice Chancellors, Heads of Department and the many amazing academics, researchers and students who have contributed so much to enable us to obtain the world-leading position we are in today.“
During the last 26 years, Computer Science at the University of Southampton has grown in scale and global eminence, attracting students and researchers from around the world, providing academic leadership and continuing to define and develop new leading-edge technologies and approaches.
Computer Science was established as an academic discipline at Southampton in 1986 when the University created a joint department of Electronics and Computer Science. This union of the fledgling Department of Computation (founded in 1967 by Professor David Barron), with Southampton’s Electronics Department, whose pioneering achievements were already transforming global communications, propelled research and teaching in Computer Science at Southampton to the world-leading status it enjoys today.
Southampton’s world-leading achievements in Computer Science include the development of pioneering hypermedia systems in the late 1980s and laying the foundations of agent-based computing and intelligent systems since the late 1990s. The University is also recognised around the globe for founding and fostering Web Science as an academic discipline, led by Professors Dame Wendy Hall, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Nigel Shadbolt, who Chairs the UK’s new Open Data Institute.
The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, says: “I was incredibly impressed by the quality and range of the applications received and I am delighted that twelve new Regius Professorships are to be created. Together, the successful applications demonstrated an exceptionally high level of achievement in both teaching and research.
“It is testament to the quality and strength of our higher education sector that so many universities were considered worthy of such a distinguished honour.”
The creation of Regius Professorships falls under the Royal Prerogative, and each appointment is approved by the Monarch on ministerial advice. Only two others have been awarded in the last century, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009. Before then, the most recent Regius Professorship was created by Queen Victoria.
The 12 new Regius Professorships awarded by the government are:
• University of Dundee – Life Sciences
• Imperial College, London – Engineering
• London School of Economics and Political Science – Economics
• The Open University – Open Education
• University of Manchester – Physics
• Royal Holloway, University of London – Music
• University of Essex – Political Science
• King’s College London – Psychiatry
• University of Reading – Meteorology and Climate Science
• University of Southampton – Computer Science
• University of Surrey – Electronic Engineering
• University of Warwick – Mathematics
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