Vice-Chancellor awarded a CBE

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan says he was "surprised but deeply appreciative of the honour" of being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2023 New Year Honours List.

Awarded the honour in recognition of his service to UK higher education, Professor Riordan joined a list of other members of the University community to receive royal recognition for their outstanding personal achievements in public life.

"I was surprised to receive the news but deeply appreciative of the honour accorded to me," said Professor Riordan.

"This award reflects the outstanding support and collaboration of my family, colleagues and students throughout my years in higher education, both as an academic and as a Vice-Chancellor.

"I’d also like to congratulate everyone from the University community who has been awarded an honour by the King. I am delighted that their significant contributions have been recognised in this way. We are very proud to see their hard work and dedication recognised," he added.

Professor Riordan has enjoyed a near two-decade career at the highest levels of university leadership in the UK and Wales.

First appointed President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University in 2012, he helped cement its position as Wales’s leading research-intensive university and steered the University through the challenges of the global pandemic, personally overseeing the creation of a sophisticated in-house Covid-19 testing service to help protect staff and students.

He has driven a major programme of investment in research facilities and the student experience, fulfilling a personal commitment to help build social and economic prosperity in Wales by creating the world’s first social science research park.

In 2014 he played a key role in negotiations to guarantee the Living Wage for all employees within Welsh higher education. Adopting the Living Wage in 2014, he insisted that Cardiff University would not just pay the Living Wage to its own employees but should seek accreditation. Cardiff University quickly became the first university in Wales to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer and has remained committed to promoting the Living Wage within the sector as well as to other employers.

Previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, he moved to Essex in 2007 from Newcastle University, where he had been Pro Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences since 2005.

Professor Riordan is widely recognised as a leading advocate of the benefits that international mobility and partnerships can bring for universities and students alike, and played a key role in both the Turing Scheme and the International Learning Exchange Programme (ILEP), now known as Taith.

In 2012, when he was Chair of the UUK Higher Education International Unit, the Riordan Review explored the barriers to UK outward mobility and its recommendations led to the development of a UK Strategy for Outward Mobility.

An accomplished academic, he taught English as a foreign language at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany before becoming a Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in German at Swansea University and later a Professor of German at Newcastle University.

He has published widely on post-war German literature and culture, including writing and editing books on the writers Jurek Becker, Uwe Johnson and Peter Schneider.

A long-time supporter of the LGBT+ community, in 2017 Professor Riordan took the personal decision to be open about his sexual orientation with staff and students in the University, helping to raise awareness of the issues faced by the bisexual community.

The full 2023 New Year Honours List can be found here.

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