The Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
Professor Sir Steve Smith, BSc MSc PhD (Soton) FAcSS
Professor Sir Steve Smith has been Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter since October 2002. He was previously Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and Professor of International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, as well as Head of the Department of International Politics, and Director of the Centre for Public Choice Studies at the University of East Anglia.
Sir Steve is a graduate of the University of Southampton and holds a BSc in Politics and International Studies, an MSc in International Studies and a PhD in International Relations. He was made an Honorary DSc of the University of Southampton in 2004, was awarded an Honorary Professorship by Jilin University in 2007, in 2010 was made an Honorary DEd of the University of the West of England and an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University, and in 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. In 2009 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2012 he was awarded the University of South Florida's Global Leadership Award.
He has written or edited 17 books, published well over 100 academic papers and has given over 170 academic presentations in 22 countries. In 2001 he became only the second UK academic to be elected President of the International Studies Association in the USA. In 2000 he was elected Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences and in 1999 was the recipient of the Susan Strange Award of the International Studies Association for the person who has most challenged the received wisdom in the profession.
Sir Steve was Chair of the UCAS Board from 2013 – 2019. He is a Board member of the Russell Group; Chair of UUK's International Policy Network and Chair of UUK's International Strategic Advisory Board; Member of the UUK Board; Board member of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership; a Trustee of the Education and Employers Task Force.
He was President of Universities UK (UUK) - the representative body for the executive heads of UK universities - from 2009-2011.
From June 2007 until May 2010, he led for higher education on the Prime Minister’s National Council of Excellence in Education, which provided advice to Government about strategy and measures to achieve world-class education performance for all children and young people. He was also a member of the Institute for Public Policy Research's Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
Sir Steve was knighted in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to higher education locally and nationally. In 2019, Sir Steve was made a Freeman of the City of Exeter for his extraordinary contribution to Exeter and the local community.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Vice-Chancellor
The Vice-Chancellor is the University’s Chief Executive Officer, with formal responsibilities for the leadership and management of the University, and is the University's principal representative in its external relations.
As the University's Chief Executive officer, Sir Steve has responsibility for:
- overall leadership and management of the University
- overall financial health of the University
ensuring the delivery of the University's mission, aims and objectives set out in our Corporate Strategy
- promoting and advocating the University globally, nationally and locally
He is also Chair of the following committees and groups:
- Vice-Chancellor's Executive Group (including Academic Promotions)
The Vice-Chancellor is accountable to the Chair of Council, Miss Sarah Turvill.
The Vice-Chancellor meets regularly with the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellors, who collectively oversee the University’s Education, Research, Regional and Global strategies and the University’s strategic planning and budgeting processes.