After four years, Professor Chris Harris stands down as head of Modern Languages & Cultures this month, and looks back on a series of successes for the department. Despite the challenges faced by modern languages departments across the UK’s higher education institutions, Professor Harris’ leadership has seen the department rise up university league tables and sustain its level of recruitment – exceeding targets in some areas.

Professor Chris Harris comes to the end of his headship

Professor Chris Harris comes to the end of his headship

Awarded a personal chair in December 2014 in recognition of his leadership of the department, Professor Harris is delighted with the health of the department. Building on the work of his predecessors, Professor Eve Rosenhaft and Professor Charles Forsdick, Professor Harris can point to the improved performance in the Research Excellence Framework of 2014, as well as a vibrant research culture in the department and an active postgraduate community. Moreover, Professor Harris – a specialist in Mexican contemporary writing – has been instrumental in the development of Basque Studies at the University of Liverpool.

I’m delighted that we have jumped up a quartile in REF and also that we have seen an unprecedented high level of promotions in the department

Beyond the department, Professor Harris has been very active in supporting his own discipline, Iberian and Latin American Studies, not least as the Hispanic & Lusophone Representative on the University Council of Modern Languages. Over his headship, he has continued to act as an external examiner in Spanish at Ulster University and Aberystwyth University, as well as serving as the conference secretary for the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland, organising their annual conferences in Galway, Exeter, and Northumbria. Beyond these roles, Professor Harris has acted as an external consultant for the Irish Research Council and for Pearson in their review of AS and A-level examinations.

With the responsibilities of the headship now passing to his successor, Professor Harris is looking forward to a year to devote to his research, and he leaves (but only temporarily) a grateful department behind him.