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Ulster University's new £250k leader becomes Northern Ireland's highest paid official

By Amanda Ferguson

Ulster University has appointed a new vice-chancellor who will become the highest paid public figure in Northern Ireland.

Liverpool-born Professor Paddy Nixon (47) will be paid £250,000 plus benefits when he succeeds Professor Sir Richard Barnett following his retirement in March after a nine-year tenure leading the multi-campus university.

The married father-of-two, currently based in Tasmania, is expected to take up the post on July 1.

Last night a UU spokeswoman confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph Sir Richard had not taken an annual pay rise for the past four to five years.

It is understood his salary is £183,000 plus £21,000 benefits.

The UU spokeswoman said: "The new vice-chancellor will receive a £250,000 annual salary, membership of the USS pension scheme and any necessary relocation expenses.

"Knocktarna House in Coleraine is traditionally the vice-chancellor's official residence but the new vice-chancellor may decide to source his own accommodation elsewhere, which is a personal decision."

The package nudges him just ahead of the Queen's University vice-chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston, whose post attracts a salary of £249,000.

Professor Nixon will join UU from the University of Tasmania where he is deputy vice-chancellor, responsible for driving the research agenda.

He has extensive industry and commercial experience, particularly in collaborations with global high-tech firms.

Professor Nixon said: "I am delighted to be appointed vice-chancellor of a multi-campus university that combines such strong local roots with impressive international reach.

"Ulster University is uniquely placed to innovate, create and collaborate in ways that support the most inspiring student experience while also influencing policy and practice through pioneering research."

Professor Nixon also said he looked forward to working with the NI Executive to ensure the higher education sector fulfils the ambitions of young people and contributes to economic growth.

Professor Nixon was previously Science Foundation Ireland Research Professor in Distributed Systems at University College Dublin, where he was vice-principal (deputy dean) of the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

From 2007 to 2010 he was academic director of INTEL's Independent Living and Digital Health, leading a team of 150 clinicians, researchers and engineers.

Gerry Mallon, chair of UU's council, said Professor Nixon will bring "skill, perspective and leadership" to the role.

"The university has undertaken a rigorous process to find the right person to lead Ulster University into a new era," he said.

"This is an exciting time in which to be given the opportunity to lead the team responsible for the development of a progressive, ambitious institution.

"Professor Paddy Nixon brings skill, perspective and leadership that will be invaluable."


Actor and UU chancellor James Nesbitt: "This is a dynamic appointment at an exciting time for UU, its staff, students and partner organisations. I look forward to welcoming Professor Nixon to the UU family."

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