Spotlight on... Professor Eloise Scotford

Professor Eloise Scotford
Professor Eloise Scotford

This week we meet Eloise Scotford, who was recently appointed Dean of Laws. Here, she chats to us about the items on her to-do list as the new Dean and her childhood riding horses in New South Wales.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I have just taken up the role of Dean of Laws. This role comprises the academic leadership of the Faculty, as well as contributing to UCL governance through membership of UCL’s University Management Committee and working with colleagues across the rich spectrum of UCL departments and portfolios. Leading the Faculty includes all manner of policy and management issues day to day, including developing our strategic direction, ensuring that our professional services and academic staff and students are engaged, inspired and fully included in Faculty life, and connecting our academic work to the wider Laws community and society.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I’ve been at UCL as Professor of Environmental Law since 2017. Before that, I was at King’s College London as a member of the law faculty there, working with other inspiring legal academics. Moving to UCL was an important step for me, not only because our Faculty of Laws is a truly excellent law school but also to join the Centre for Law and Environment, which is a globally recognised centre for researching, studying, and teaching environmental law.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I’d have to say the REF2021 results in Laws, where we came first in the UK. I was Vice-Dean Research and REF Lead as we prepared our Faculty REF submission. I worked with an excellent team in the Faculty (that’s you Megan Donaldson, Steven Vaughan, Tatjana Wingender, Anna Schuele) and supportive colleagues centrally. We delivered a submission that was thoroughly evidenced, underpinned by fair, humane and transparent processes, and fundamentally driven by our academic mission to champion excellence in legal research, including through respecting diverse ways of rigorously developing knowledge about law and legal systems.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Top of my to-do list as Dean is to ensure that our wonderful people in Laws - staff and students - have the energy, space and support to think and do great work. In these pandemic-affected and economically unstable times, this has become a significant challenge. To that end, at the start of my Deanship I’ve got a full agenda of projects around workload, community building, and supporting diversity in developing knowledge and learning about the law.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

  • I love reading - tough decision. I will go for three books in one: Rachel Cusk’s Outline, Transit and the Kudos trilogy. Sublime, intelligent, page-turning life stories.
  • Album - probably the one with the deepest memories for me is Abba Gold, which I used to play on my parent’s record player as a young child, dancing around their bedroom.
  • Film - Mary Poppins - nothing beats the magic of watching films as a child, and now watching them again with my children. It’s got everything - suffragettes, bad bankers, tea parties on the ceiling, endless laughter, self-tidying toys, magical carousel horse rides...

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Why do bicycles fall over? They are two-tyred. (From my eight-year old daughter.)

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

All my friends and family in one place at the same time, from their scattered locations around the world.

What advice would you give your younger self?

The anxiety will settle down and morph into some wisdom over time, whilst driving you on. The hard work is worth it. Most importantly, find a good physio to sort out your back - don’t leave it two decades!

What would it surprise people to know about you?

An upside of being an only child of separated parents was spending all my childhood holidays riding horses in country New South Wales. I learned to muck out stables, cook, sweep floors properly, sneak onto land rovers for a wild drive round the paddocks, connect with animals, and find the edge between control, freedom and danger when riding horses around the bush. Still some of my happiest memories and an important reminder of how important nature and unstructured time is for being wellbeing.

What is your favourite place?

Again tough call - I’ve had a peripatetic life with lots of special places. Top two - the Swiss Alps and the Australian countryside (the gums, the crunching leaves underfoot, the sunlight, the endless horizons).

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