Spotlight on... Professor Sue Rogers

This week we meet Professor Sue Rogers, Interim Director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), who chats to us about her experience leading the IOE, upcoming projects and finding her way back to education.

What is your role and what does it involve?

My current role is Interim Director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE). I took this on in January 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work, so it has not been a typical term of office! I hold responsibility for strategic and financial oversight and performance of the IOE. My priorities in the past year or so have been first and foremost to support the well-being of our amazing staff during this time, advance our EDI work, and ensure we provide the best possible experience for our students. I am supported by a fantastic team in this effort.

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

I joined the IOE in 2006 as programme leader of the BEd. From 2008 I served two successive terms of two different departments. In 2015/2016 I took on the role of Pro Director Academic Development until January 2020.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Other than gaining a B in Maths GCSE at the age of 28, this has to be my current role, leading the IOE through one of the most challenging times in its history. It has confirmed my belief in the importance of compassionate leadership and creating a strong community through good teamwork. We are emerging from this challenging time in good shape having maintained our No.1 in the World status in the QS rankings, and our strategic and financial objectives. None of this of course would be possible without brilliant staff who have gone above and beyond over the past year or so. I am very grateful to each one of our staff members - they deserve recognition here and a really good break!

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

Currently, I am handing over to my successor Professor Li Wei who takes up his post on 1 July, so my focus now is on ensuring this goes smoothly. I will then take a period of study leave to catch up with my academic work. Top of my to do list is to finish some writing that is overdue and begin new projects on rethinking children’s relationship with nature and the environment in relation to climate change and pandemic.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: Bach Preludes and Fugues played by Andras Schiff or Blackstar by David Bowie - cheating I know! Film: Intouchables (Untouchable), 2011.
Novel: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

I don’t know any jokes so I asked my grandson Leo, aged six.

A type of cheese that’s made backwards?
Edam.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Maya Angelou, David Bowie, Rosa Parks, David Attenborough, Paul Merton, Charlotte Bronte and Jonathan Meades.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Care less about what other people think of you.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I hated secondary school and was excluded at 15, leaving with few qualifications. I returned to education in my twenties as a young mother, attending university when my daughter was five years old. It’s something of an irony that I am now a qualified teacher, Professor of Education and leading the No 1 Education faculty in the world. This experience has taught me that it is never too late to get an education. The support and encouragement I received from educators to find a way back has inspired me throughout my career. 

What is your favourite place?  

Hard to choose. It would be a choice between South Devon, the Isle of Harris and New York! 


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