New Vice-Chancellor

29 July 2011

Professor April McMahon
Professor April McMahon

Aberystwyth University’s new Vice-Chancellor, Professor April McMahon, has taken up her new role today, Monday 1st August.

Professor McMahon joins Aberystwyth University from Edinburgh University where she was Vice-Principal Planning, Resources & Research Policy.

A native of the Scottish Borders and Scots speaker, Professor McMahon gained an MA in English Language and Linguistics followed by a PhD in English Language at Edinburgh University.

For 12 years she taught at the Department of Linguistics at Cambridge University, where she was also a Fellow of Selwyn College, and was Professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield from 2000 until 2004.

In 2005 Professor McMahon returned to Edinburgh University as Forbes Professor of English Language and Head of the Department of Linguistics and English Language. She was subsequently appointed Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science before becoming Vice-Principal in September 2009.

Professor McMahon said:

“It is a great pleasure and privilege to have been invited to lead Aberystwyth University through this next and vitally important phase in its history, a proud history that dates back to 1872.”

“These are challenging times for Higher Education. In many ways, the rule book is being re-written, but there are important principles that are unchanged. The priorities for this University will remain the provision of excellent opportunities for learning and teaching, world leading student support, cutting edge research in a broad range of academic disciplines – and all in an environment which is second to none.”

Sir Emyr Jones Parry, President of Aberystwyth University said:

“Universities face a period of unprecedented change and I am particularly pleased that Aberystwyth has been able to attract a new leader of the calibre of Professor McMahon. I look forward very much to working with her to accelerate the development of a research led, internationally competitive University, which also fulfils its obligations, regionally and nationally.”

Professor McMahon’s own academic discipline is linguistics. Her work has focused on comparisons between various English accents, with a particular interest in Scots, how and why languages change, interdisciplinary approaches to family relationships between languages, and the implications of encroaching majority languages.

She has authored and co-authored a number of books including Lexical Phonology and the History of English (Cambridge University Press), Change, Chance, and Optimality (Oxford University Press), Understanding Language Change (Cambridge University Press), An Introduction to English Phonology (Edinburgh University Press) and is co-editor of the journal English Language and Linguistics which is published by Cambridge University Press. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Academy.

Professor McMahon was appointed in January 2011 and has been committed to learning Welsh since she learnt of her new role. She is married with three children. 

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