The Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton is to leave his role next summer after a colourful and audacious term in office during which time he was dubbed the Wolf of Northampton by the tabloid press.
The nickname was earned after photos of Professor Petford letting his hair down with students at a social event showed him dancing and crowd-surfing and brought him acclaim and notoriety in equal measure.
It even inspired the creation of an eponymous parody Twitter account.
He oversaw the creation of UoN’s ambitious Waterside Campus as well as securing a Government Gold Tef Award for the institution.
Release from University of Northampton:
University of Northampton Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Professor Nick Petford DSc will step down from his role in the Summer of 2022.
Professor Petford – who has led the University since 2010 – will remain in post until the appointment of his successor. He is leaving to pursue opportunities in the field of international education.
Mr Terry Neville OBE will also retire in 2022 after more than 11 years in the role of Chief Operating Officer.
Professor Petford said: “It has been an honour to have served as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton for more than a decade. In that time, many thousands of our graduates have made their mark around the world in every sector from finance to fashion and technology to teaching. I am immensely proud not only of them, but to have worked alongside colleagues at the University with such dedication to transform lives for the better, and inspire positive change.”
Professor Petford and Mr Neville spearheaded the University of Northampton’s bold decision to relocate the University from its previous campus to a purpose-built facility within Northampton’s Enterprise Zone – expanding the institution’s links to the local economy and creating a new commercial and leisure district for the town. Less than a year after opening in September 2018, the Waterside campus won the Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors “Design through Innovation” award; “Construction Project of the Year” at the East Midlands Property Awards, and the title of “University Impact Initiative of the Year” from the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE).
Under their leadership the University was awarded Gold – the highest possible mark – in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The official judgement by the Government’s review stated the University of Northampton delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students.
Professor Petford continued: “I arrived at Northampton in the knowledge that Universities looked set to face unprecedented challenges, and I am proud that we have risen to each challenge and overcome it – particularly in these most recent, difficult times. I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition for the new University leadership over the next year, and wish them and our students every success.”
Terry Neville added: “It has always been my belief that through their teaching, research and community outreach, universities are the engine of productive change. My years of working at Northampton have seen that belief become reality, and I am grateful to have played my part.”
Mr Mark Mulcahey, Chair of the University’s Board of Governors, said: “It has been my pleasure to work alongside Nick and to witness key success milestones during his 11-year tenure. In addition to realising the vision for the Waterside campus, he and Terry Neville have led the University to the vanguard of using higher education as a catalyst for social impact. That progressive thinking has become the hallmark of the University of Northampton – and a worthy legacy for these remarkable colleagues. On behalf of the University I would like to thank them, and look forward to working with them ahead of the change in leadership next year.”