Academic leader and chief executive of the University
Chairman of Senate
University's principal representative in all its external relations
I became the University’s academic leader and chief executive in 2001. This was, and remains, a tremendous privilege for me, given the University’s longstanding reputation for great teaching and internationally distinguished research. All that, plus a location at the heart of a lively, historic, beautiful city! No wonder the University of Bristol is at the top of the popularity stakes.
Over time, I have come to understand more clearly what makes this University so special. It comes down to people. First, the academics, who account for Bristol’s position as a world leader in subjects ranging from aerospace engineering to biochemistry, classics to mathematics, clinical neuroscience to policy studies. I know of no university of comparable size with as many members of staff who are Fellows of the top academic societies. Then there are the administrators, gardeners, technicians and many others who support the whole enterprise with such superb commitment. And, of course, there are our students – an extraordinarily diverse body of people united by exceptional ability, motivation and potential.
One of the University’s two main roles is to help our students achieve that potential and become what they want to be and what society needs. Our other main role is to generate new knowledge that improves the world and illuminates our understanding of it. We are acknowledged as excelling in both of these roles, and we intend to do even better – hence the ambitious programme of investment in facilities and staff that we will be continuing over the next few years.
We are a community of scholarship in a creative and dynamic city. We set very high standards and we have a clear vision for the future. This truly is an exciting place.
Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor
Professor Eric Thomas has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol since September 2001.
He graduated in Medicine from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1976 and proceeded to obtain his MD by thesis in research into endometriosis in 1987. He trained as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and worked at both the universities of Sheffield and Newcastle. In 1991 he was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Southampton and then became Head of the School of Medicine there in 1995 and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences in 1998. He was a Consultant Gynaecologist from 1987 to 2001.
In August 2011, Professor Thomas became President of Universities UK. He was previously Vice-President of UUK, Chair of its England and Northern Ireland Council and Chair of the Research Policy Committee. Professor Thomas is Chair of the Board of CASE Europe and a Member of the Board of CASE and has been appointed to serve as a Commissioner of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. He chaired the government Taskforce into Increasing Voluntary Giving in Higher Education, which reported in 2004. He was Chair of the Worldwide Universities Network from 2003 – 2007. He was a member of the Board of the South-West Regional Development Agency from 2002 – 2008.
He is a Deputy Lieutenant of the City and County of Bristol and is married with two children.
Date of birth: 24 March 1953
Place of birth: Hartlepool, Co Durham
Marital status: Married with two children
Education: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Degrees and fellowships
Doctor of Science (Hon) UWE in Bristol 2010
Doctor of Science (Hon) University of Teesside 2008
Doctor of Science (Hon) University of Southampton 2006
LLD (Hon) University of Bristol 2004
FRCOG 2001 (M 1983)
MB BS (Ncl) 1976, MD (Ncl) 1987
Current major roles
Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol September 2001 –
President, Universities UK 2011 -
Member of Council, University of Bristol 2001 –
Member, Council for Industry and Higher Education 2003 – (Trustee 2005 –)
Director, The Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Foundation 2001 –