The University of Gibraltar is delighted to announce the appointment of its inaugural Beacon Professors, Professor David Abulafia and Dr John Cortes.
The University opened its first competitive professorial appointment scheme in January 2017. The scheme is overseen by the Professorial Appointments Committee of the University which is made up of nine academics drawn from a number of international higher education institutions. All members of the committee hold, or have held, high academic office in their own universities. It is the responsibility of the committee to receive all submissions for professorial appointments and, to ensure that appointments process is rigorous and transparent, seek expert independent external review of applicants’ suitability for appointment. The Committee operates independently and recommends applicants for appointment to the Vice-Chancellor.
Professors have a special responsibility to establish themselves as role models within the academic community and to foster excellence among colleagues. Beacon Professors are unique to the University of Gibraltar and the title is symbolic of the role the University hopes incumbents will undertake. The image of the Europa Point lighthouse as a beacon is important to the University representing, as it does, the University’s mission to spread the light of knowledge, to inspire students and illuminate their life paths.
Following lengthy consideration the Committee recommended the appointment of Professor Abulafia and Dr.Cortes. Professor Christina Slade who is a member of the Committee, and Chair of the University’s Academic Board, comments: “These prestigious appointments are a landmark for the University as they reflect an exciting new stage in the development of the institution, and establish a firm foundation from which to continue to develop the University’s academic credentials’. Prof Slade is the Vice-Chancellor of Bath Spa University.
The committee recommended Professor Abulafia for appointment in recognition, in particular, for his exceptional contribution to Mediterranean studies, his long-standing relationship with Gibraltar and his outstanding contribution across all academic areas.
Professor Abulafia is a Professor of Mediterranean History at the University of Cambridge and is an internationally renowned for his seminal work “The Great Sea: a human history of the Mediterranean” which was received to great critical acclaim. Professor Abulafia holds a number of international honours and awards and is much in demand as a speaker at authoritative events across the world. Professor Abulafia will be attached to the Institute for Gibraltar and Mediterranean Studies and it is anticipated that he will become an increasingly familiar figure in the University, the Institute and the community more generally.
The committee recommended the appointment of Dr Cortes in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the fields of Public Engagement, Knowledge Exchange and Consultancy, and Academic and Professional Leadership and deemed him ‘meritorious’ in Research. Dr.Cortes’ work has encompassed science, conservation, health and health care education both at home and further afield. In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Kingston in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to interprofessional approaches to health, social care and modernisation training”. He is an esteemed member of a number of regional scientific bodies and was awarded an MBE in honour of his contribution to conservation. Latterly he has taken a lead internationally in promoting environmental governance in the UK Overseas Territories. Dr Cortes is attached to the Institute for Life and Earth Sciences and it is anticipated that this appointment will enable him to bring his experience directly into the University in support of staff and students.
It is expected that in the course of the next academic year the newly appointed Beacon Professors will deliver their inaugural lectures, an event that will be open to the public.
The Vice-Chancellor was delighted to receive the recommendations and endorse both of the appointments. Professor Daniella Tilbury extended her thanks to Professor Geoff Scott, the Chair of the Committee and to the committee membership for their dedication to the appointments task on behalf of the University.