New Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer at Royal Agricultural University

RAU Professor Peter McCaffery

Professor Peter McCaffery has been appointed as Vice Chancellor at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU).

He has been joined by Graham Pollard, the former University of Liverpool Director of Operations who joins the university as its Chief Operating Officer, a new role borne out of the University’s recent review of Professional Services.

Professor McCaffery replaced Professor Vicky Price who left last month.

Professor McCaffery has worked in the higher education sector for more than 35 years and has leadership, management, teaching, and research experience across a range of institutions from further education colleges to USA Ivy League universities.

The son of a coal miner, Peter was born in Durham and attended St. Bede’s RC Grammar School in Lanchester, County Durham, before going on to study History at Ulster University. He lives in Surrey and is married to Carol with whom he has two grown-up sons.

Awarded a PhD by the London School of Economics, Peter was an Idlewild Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He has previously served as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Cumbria, and as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at London Metropolitan University.

He said: “It is a great privilege to be asked to lead this historic institution. As the very first agricultural college in the English-speaking world, the RAU has been developing leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs since 1845. Our mission today bears testament to the foresight of our founders.

“I am very much looking forward to building on the work of Professor Price and working with all my colleagues to equip a new generation of graduates to meet the most pressing challenges that face us in the world today – climate change, food security, sustainable land use, biodiversity, heritage management, and many more.

“The RAU’s raison d’etre is the survival of humankind – there is no higher calling than that. We are proud of our heritage and we aim to be as societally relevant in the future as we have been in the past.”

An American historian by background, Peter was a regular analyst for Sky News during the years of the Trump presidency. In his spare time, Peter is an international masters’ swimmer!

Professor Jonathan Kydd, Chair of the Governing Council of the RAU, welcomed Professor McCaffery’s appointment. Professor Kydd said: “Peter is well known to the RAU staff having served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor during the tough pandemic year. He has an outstanding track record as a university leader and his understanding of the evolving landscape for higher education is second to none.”

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor role at the RAU has been taken by Professor Neil Ravenscroft who was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor International at the Cirencester-based university.

RAU Graham PollardIn the new role of Chief Operating Office, Graham Pollard joined the RAU from the University of Liverpool where he spent the last six years as Director of Operations for the university’s Faculty of Health & Life Sciences.

Graham said: “The RAU not only has a great heritage but it is really looking to the future and offers the opportunity for both undergraduates and postgraduates to study many diverse disciplines that impact upon future sustainability, climate change, and agriculture, all of which are incredibly relevant subject areas both for the UK and globally.”

After growing up in Lancashire, Graham went on to study politics, specialising in environmental politics, at Liverpool John Moores University before starting work as a Sustainability Officer for Nottingham City Council where he worked on Local Agenda 21, a policy initiative aimed at encouraging local authorities to promote more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable communities.

He then moved to work in sustainable transport policy for Blackpool Council before moving to the private sector and joining for a national transport consultancy as its New Business Development Manager.

In 2007 Graham joined the University of Liverpool where he was to stay, in various senior management roles, for the next 14 years. While there, he was selected for the university’s Future Leaders Programme and went on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Business Administration at the University of Liverpool and join Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Programme.

During his time at Liverpool Graham also served as Partnership Governor for Cheshire Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and he continues to be a non-executive director and board member of Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust.

Graham, who is married with two young children, is also a keen runner and also enjoys cooking, having once competed in Junior Masterchef, finishing fourth in the north having served up pigeon on a bed of lentils. Since moving to Gloucestershire he has also taken up paddle boarding although he admits to “spending more time in the water than on the board at the moment”.