Eunice Simmons

Eunice Simmons

Deputy Vice-Chancellor -Academic & Student Affairs

Directorate

Role

Deputy Vice-Chancellor

As Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Eunice Simmons represents the Vice-Chancellor at external and internal events and manages key strategic relationships for NTU. She is the University lead for the 2015-20 Strategic Plan theme `Creating Opportunities’ which supports academic innovation and student success.

Professor Simmons has institutional oversight for quality assurance and for curriculum delivery, development and enhancement across the University’s four Campuses and on-line learning provision. Departmental responsibilities include the Centre for Academic Development and Quality; Libraries and Learning Resources; Schools, Colleges & Community Outreach; Degree Apprenticeships; UK College partnerships; On-line & Blended Learning and the Green Academy.

In 2015 Professor Simmons launched the Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) to develop pedagogic research and practice, building on Nottingham Trent University’s reputation for innovation and excellence in teaching. TILT has engaged hundreds of NTU academics and professional service staff since its inception in a range of collaboratively-designed practice and scholarship groups. Its distributed leadership model has been well received and has facilitated creative engagement in and between disciplines. TILT external events have attracted significant national and international interest on subjects ranging from data analytics to widening participation strategies.

Current projects include a Curriculum Refresh of some 650 courses to ensure alignment with the University’s Strategic Plan and an institution-wide Success for All project which for 3 years has addressed student progression, attainment and outcomes across OFFA and equality groups. Professor Simmons is also the institutional lead for Education for Sustainable Development and as a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and of the RSA, seeks to combine her expertise as an educator and scientist to challenge unsustainable approaches towards the use of the planet's natural resources.

Career overview

At NTU Professor Simmons has previously held the roles of Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Affairs) and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic). For four years prior she was Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences. This involved overseeing numerous campus developments, including a new library and renovation of the livestock centres and commercial farm in addition to implementing research, teaching and HR strategies. Her career has enabled her to develop significant expertise in environmental and land-based education ranging from secondary school science teaching through to research degree supervisions.

Her first degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Manchester included a dissertation on cereal physiology and specialist options in land use ecology, statistics and computing. Following a PGCE at Roehampton Institute Professor Simmons taught for two years at a rural comprehensive in Kent before obtaining a studentship on an innovative MSc in the conservation of soil fertility - run jointly by the Universities of Kent and London at Wye.

On achieving the Bayer industry award for best dissertation, she taught on the MSc for a semester before embarking on a research post and PhD funded by the Forestry Commission. This focused on the impact of plantation systems on ancient woodland sites and it influenced the Commission's best-practice guidance for the restoration of these internationally important woodlands.

Two years into her PhD, Professor Simmons was appointed Lecturer on the MSc in Landscape Ecology, Design and Management and Senior Warden at Wye College, University of London. Doing justice to these competing priorities gave her useful insight into the pressures felt by part-time students and mature students returning to study. After 12 years at Wye and Imperial Colleges in the University of London, she moved north to Cumbria as Head of the National School of Forestry, a post she retained when promoted to Head of the School of Natural Resources in the University of Central Lancashire.

In 2007, on the formation of the University of Cumbria, Professor Simmons was asked to create a natural resources faculty for the new university, including the largest Outdoor Studies School in Europe. She brought the first PhD students to the Newton Rigg campus funded by the UK's joint Research Councils’ Energy Research Centre and re-invigorated the use of the University's farms for teaching and research. This was recognised in her appointment as University Dean for Research, prior to her move to Nottingham Trent University.

At NTU’s Brackenhurst Campus Professor Simmons built on her experience of partnership projects to enrich the course portfolio, research activities and social and community enterprises. She used her five years' experience as a College Governor to embed vocational and professional skills into the wider curriculum for all students, leading to improved graduate prospects and support from a wide range of employers.

Research areas

Current research areas include:

  • sustainable intensification in practice
  • multipurpose forestry
  • experiential learning
  • education for sustainable development.

Previous research project experience includes:

  • Future Fields project lead - exploring the potential of non-food crops
  • Rural Community Energy and Bioenergy Group (funder UK Energy Research Centre/EPSRC-NERC, LEADER+)
  • Green Care – therapy through skills in rural businesses
  • Spatial Indicators in Nature Conservation – initial PI on EU 5th Framework project with 7 EU partners exploring the potential of remote sensing and GIS for large sale conservation management and planning in NATURA 2000 sites
  • Living Landscapes Project - with Dept of Geography at University of Reading (funder English Nature and seven Midland local authorities)
  • Countryside Quality Counts - Consultant with the Universities of Nottingham and Sheffield on Countryside Agency funded project to develop an indicator of countryside change
  • IUCN: Threatened Landscapes Group (funder Farmers Club, U.K. and International Union for Conservation of Nature)
  • Restoration of Dipterocarp forest in Malaysia (Travel and student PhD grants - Royal Society and British Council
  • Tropical landscape and forest conservation initiatives (Grant from the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Caribbean Conservation Association for surveys in Belize and Caribbean islands).

External activity

  • Founder Member FC Expert Committee on Forest Science (2013-15)
  • Trailblazer Management Group for Apprenticeships in Agriculture and Production Horticulture
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Networks: Alliance, HEA and Midland Universities
  • Southwell Minster Cathedral Council member
  • LEP working groups: skills and delegated powers

Previous committee roles include:

  • Forestry Commission National Chairs Committee and Chair NW Regional Advisory Committee (2006-2013)
  • LANTRA Qualifications and Standards Group
  • LANTRA's Environmental and Landbased Diploma Steering Group
  • NW Sector Skills Business Productivity Alliance
  • Land based Education Review Steering Group.

Chair of:

  • Northwest England Forestry Framework Group
  • Cumbria Woodlands
  • Lancashire Woodland Project
  • Cumbria Futures Forum.

Conference chair for national and regional meetings, for example:

  • Forestry Commission
  • Royal Agriculture Society of England.

Sponsors and collaborators

  • Nottingham County Council
  • Forestry Commission
  • Canals and Rivers Trust
  • Harvard Office for Sustainability
  • Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust

Publications

Selected publications

  • Social impacts of community renewable energy projects: Findings from a woodfuel case study. Rogers J C, Simmons E A, Convery I, Weatherall A, Energy Policy, 2012, 42, 239-247
  • What factors enable community leadership of renewable energy projects? Lessons from a woodfuel heating initiative.Rogers J C, Simmons E A, Convery I and Weatherall A, Local Economy, 2012, 27 (2) 207-220
  • What does it mean to be a friendly outsider? Critical reflection on finding a role as an action researcher with communities developing renewable energy projects.Rogers, J C, Convery I, Simmons E A & Weatherall A, Educational Action Research, 2012, 20 (2)
  • Stakeholder perspectives on the upland entry level stewardship scheme and its significance for the future of upland farming. Long M, Convery I & Simmons E A, Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 2009, 170, 1-8
  • Public perceptions of community-based renewable energy projects. Rogers J C, Simmons E A, Convery I & Weatherall A, Energy Policy, 2008, 36 (11) 4217 – 4226
  • 'Local Renewables for Local Places? Attitudes to Renewable Energy and the Role of Communities in Place-based Renewable Energy Development' Rogers J. C., Convery I, Weatherall A., Simmons E.A., in Convery, I., Davis P. & Corsane, G. (eds) Making Sense of Place: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 2012, Boydell & Brewer, Suffolk, UK

Press expertise

  • Innovation in university learning and teaching
  • Land based education
  • Forestry conservation and management
  • Graduate skills for employability