**Warwick’s Maths department has been selected for an award by the Queen, alongside just 12 other departments at institutions across the country despite its relative youth.**
The Regius Professorship will be awarded by the Queen to mark the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee. It is a highly prestigious award; just two have been created in the past century.
Up until now, the Regius Professorships were customarily created when a University chair was founded or endowed by a Royal patron and limited to a handful of the ancient universities, namely Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Dublin.
Warwick’s international press officer Anna Blackaby did not wish to speculate on why Warwick may have been chosen: “As it’s an external award you would have to go to the Queen and her advisers to find out the exact reasons.”
However she commented: “These awards recognise high levels of teaching and learning within departments and that was clearly recognised in the selection process.”
The University’s Mathematics Institute can now assign the title to an existing Professor or can appoint a new professor to take the chair and hold the title.
Warwick’s vice-chancellor, Professor Nigel Thrift, praised the recognition: “The Mathematics Institute is one of the top mathematics departments in the world and this award confirms its world-leading status. We are extremely proud to be among the small group of universities to have been awarded a Regius Professorship.”
Warwick’s Maths department is currently ranked third by the Guardian’s league 2013 league table, behind Cambridge and St Andrews and above Oxford University.
Head of the Mathematics Institute, Professor Colin Sparrow, said: “This award is testament to the world-leading quality of the teaching and research in the department.
“Regius Professorships have traditionally been awarded to very old universities, so this is a remarkable achievement for a University that first admitted undergraduates to its mathematics courses less than 50 years ago.”
Dundee University, Imperial College in London, the London School of Economics and Political Science, The Open University, Manchester University, Royal Holloway, the University of Essex, King’s College London, as well as Reading, Southampton and Surrey universities were also awarded the prestigious new posts.
Third-year Maths student Diarmuid Henry commented: “It’s nice to know that the hard work by staff and students that goes on within the department is recognised externally as well as internally.”
Warwick’s Students’ Union’s education officer, James Entwistle, praised the University’s success: “it demonstrates the skill and expertise of the department as well as it’s world ranking, and is thoroughly deserved.”
The award process involves a group of distinguished academics who act as advisers on a panel led by former vice-chancellor of the University of London, Graeme Davies. This panel informs ministers who subsequently advised the Queen.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, commented: “I was incredibly impressed by the quality and range of the applications received and am delighted that twelve new Regius Professorships are to be created. Together, the successful applications demonstrated an exceptionally high level of achievement in both teaching and research.
“It is testament to the quality and strength of our higher education sector that so many universities were considered worthy of such a distinguished honour.”
Chloe Smith, minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, added: “I have been bowled over by the response from universities. The submissions we received were incredibly strong, which is why we advised The Queen to create twice as many Regius Professorships than originally planned.
The twelve institutions can consider themselves truly deserving of this great honour.”
As a Royal Prerogative, the creation and appointment of Regius Professorships is approved by the Monarch on ministerial advice. In the last century Charles Darwin’s 200th anniversary was marked by such an award in 2009, and before that the last monarch to create a Regius Professorship was Queen Victoria.
The title of Regius Professor has notably been held by the late historian Hugh Trevor-Roper and the 18th century poet Thomas Gray. Warwick has yet to announce who will be awarded with the esteemed post.