Fresh honour for university principal

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The principal and vice-chancellor of Queen Margaret University (QMU) has another accolade to add to her collection, after being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Originally from Gütersloh, in western Germany, Professor Petra Wend was born into a poor working class family. Her parents left school before they were 18.

The family originally did not plan to send Petra to grammar school, due to a lack of funds, but her primary school teacher saw talent in the shy youngster and convinced her parents to invest in their daughter’s education.

Petra went on to study Italian and French language and literature at the University of Münster, before moving on to further her horizons at the University of Bologna, as well as gaining a PhD in Italian language and literature at the University of Leeds.

From there she went on to make a noticeable impression across British higher education, beginning by teaching German and Italian at Middlesex University, before accepting the senior management post of Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education at what is now London Metropolitan University.

Professor Wend then rose to the position of deputy vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in 2005, where she remained until she took up her current role as principal and vice-chancellor of QMU.

Alongside this impressive track record, the German linguist is also the vice-convener of Universities Scotland after being elected for a second term, which is scheduled to end in July 2016.

In addition, the professor has also held significant roles on several UK and international committees and boards and picked up numerous awards – including for leading the team which won the Outstanding Leadership and Management Team category, of the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2012.

However, the academic also appreciates the lighter side of life, as well as those who have helped along the way.

Citing a love of painting, born out of another inspirational teacher who took her class to galleries in her spare time, and football – being an avid Arsenal fan – Prof Wend has previously stated that she loves Scotland, particularly the Capital and its welcoming nature

Keir Bloomer, chair of the Queen Margaret University Court, said: “On behalf of the university, I’d like to congratulate Professor Wend on her newly elected position as Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This prestigious accolade not only recognises her individual success as a higher education leader, but also as an inspirational figure for young people.”

Other new fellows include crime writer Ian Rankin and George Reid, the former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament.