Appointment of Professor Philip Esler as Principal of St. Mary’s University College

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Bishop George Stack, Chair of Governors, today announced the appointment of Professor Philip Esler as Principal of St. Mary’s University College in succession to Dr. Arthur Naylor. Bishop Stack said he was ” ….delighted to welcome Professor Esler and, together with my fellow Governors, I look forward to working with him at this important juncture in the life of St. Mary’s. He will bring undoubted academic and administrative expertise to this post as well as a deep commitment to the Catholic ethos of the University College”.

Speaking of his appointment, Professor Esler said, “I am both honoured and excited by my appointment. St. Mary’s University College is a distinctive institution within UK higher education. Dedicated as it is not only to teaching, research and knowledge transfer, the University College continues to be inspired by the Christian values which are at the heart of its Catholic foundation. The students tell you ‘St Mary’s knows me by name.’ As it moves to full university status, St Mary’s will continue providing high quality academic and professional higher education. It will also build on its Catholic tradition to highlight the moral, spiritual and religious dimensions of teaching and research and to produce interdisciplinary work on the big challenges, like flourishing communities, world peace and the future of creation. I see St Mary’s becoming a powerful moral voice in UK Higher Education.’

Philip Esler is currently Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of St Andrews. From 1 September 2005 to 31 August 2009 he held the position of Chief Executive of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Prior to this he gained extensive experience in managing complex change at a senior level of a university from three years as the Vice-Principal for Research at St Andrews. He also held the post of Dean of the Faculty of Divinity and for four years he served on the Board of Scottish Enterprise Fife. Earlier in his career he worked for ten years as a litigation solicitor and then barrister in Sydney, Australia. He was also a co-founder of a successful Christian monthly news-magazine in Australia focusing on justice and peace issues.

Professor Esler’s main research interest lies in the interpretation of biblical texts using social-scientific ideas and perspectives. He also publishes and teaches in the areas of the Bible and the visual arts, and early Christian identity in Rome. Earlier this year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Esler will take up position on 1 October 2010.


For further information please contact Ruth Mellor, Marketing Manager at St Mary’s University College.
Tel: 020 8240 4083