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Prof Paul Johnson

University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) welcomes Professor Paul Johnson as its new Head of Centre. He will oversee the academic and research activities at UCS, including six academic departments and three research centres, and programmes ranging from a Foundation Year through to undergraduate and post-graduate.

Prof Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, said:  “We had the opportunity to share the innovative thinking behind UCS with the Universities Minister in a private meeting this week organised by Daniel Kawczynski MP. Minster Donelan was most impressed by the focus and ambition of the University Centre and the support of Shropshire Council and the wider community. We discussed the role UCS can play in supporting individuals and businesses in the economic recovery following Covid-19 and our expertise provided to SMEs.

“I am therefore, delighted that Professor Johnson is taking up the role as Head of UCS as he is an innovative leader who understands the needs of Shropshire and the significance of UCS to the region. Under his leadership UCS will increase its portfolio of high quality, personalised provision including the launch of nursing courses in our new clinical skills facility.  He will also ensure that the work of UCS’ environmental and digital research centres continue to address local needs such as flooding and rural health.”

In addition to his UCS role, Prof Johnson is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Chester, which has over 2000 students studying courses in art and design, performing arts, history and archaeology, English, modern languages and theology and religious studies. 

Prior to joining the University in 2018, Prof Johnson was Head of the School of Performing Arts and Associate Dean (Quality and Partnerships) at the University of Wolverhampton.  There, he was responsible for academic developments across the arts and led work with academic partners internationally.  Previously, he was Head of Department and Course Leader and taught on drama and performing arts programmes at several higher education institutions. He has also been external examiner or advisor at 14 different institutions.  

Prof Johnson has an unusual academic background in both the arts and sciences. His first degree was in Physics and Theatre studies and his research often explores the intersections and interactions between disciplines. He worked in applied theatre research at the Centre for Applied Theatre Research at the University of Manchester on projects investigating theatre in museums, and how performing arts can engage young people on issues around biomedical science. Prof Johnson has also worked in theatre as a writer and director. He is widely published, having authored a book, co-authored a second book, and contributed chapters to several more, as well as written academic articles. 

Prof Johnson has been an active member of SCUDD, the subject association for university drama departments, serving as Vice-Chair from 2007-2010.  He is on the Strategic Advisory Board of Arts Connect, a trustee of Chester Visual Arts and is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). 

He said: “I am honoured to lead UCS into its second phase of growth. UCS is a vibrant, and dynamic community of higher education and research led by a team of dedicated academics.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Shrewsbury to build on the Centre’s many accomplishments to date.”

Prof Johnson has lived in Newport, Shropshire for over 15 years, with his partner Amanda, who works as a Speech and Language Therapist in Shrewsbury for Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust. 

He added:  “My three children were all born at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, so I will always have a connection to Shrewsbury.  Developing excellent higher education in Shropshire is a way of transforming both lives and places, and at UCS we strive to provide for and support the economic, societal, demographic and environmental needs of the county in which we are based.”

Now in its sixth year, University Centre Shrewsbury was created as a partnership between the University of Chester and Shropshire Council.  It offers a high quality, personalised education and research across a broad range of academic disciplines in the beautiful medieval town of Shrewsbury.  

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