Prof. to lead Arts + Humanities Research Council

Tuesday 17 May 2005

A University of St Andrews Divinity Professor has been appointed Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the new Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Professor Philip Esler, Professor of Biblical Criticism, will take up the four-year appointment in September 2005. He will be the body’s first permanent Chief Executive.

Announcing the appointment, Science and Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury said, “I am very pleased to welcome Professor Esler to the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Professor Esler’s research background in Theology and Biblical Studies, his international research networks and his interest in the visual arts will be of great benefit to the Council”.

Professor Esler said, “The arts and humanities are indispensable to the cultural life and economic vitality of the United Kingdom and I am excited by the prospect of becoming Chief Executive of the AHRC.

“Geoff Crossick, in conjunction with the dedicated and lively AHRC staff, has done a superb job in overseeing the establishment of the AHRC as a Research Council and in setting strategic bearings for its operations.

“I aim to carry forward this work, with particular emphasis on knowledge transfer and commercialisation, practice-led research in the visual and performing arts, and interdisciplinary research”.

The AHRC is a new Research Council created under the Higher Education Act 2004. It started work on 1 April taking a similar role to that of its predecessor body, the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB). It funds the highest quality research and related postgraduate training in the Arts and Humanities. For 2005/06, AHRC will have an allocation from the science budget of £81 million. ENDS


Photograph of Professor Esler available from University of St Andrews Press Officer Claire Grainger – 01334 462529.

1. The appointment of Professor Esler has been made following an open competition undertaken in accordance with the Guidance on Appointments to Public Bodies of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. 2. Professor Esler stepped down as Vice-Principal (Research) at St Andrews in 2001 to focus on research projects. During 1998 to 2002, he was a board member of Scottish Enterprise Fife. From 1992, he was initially Reader in New Testament and then, since 1995, Professor of Biblical Criticism at St Andrews. Prior to this, he was a solicitor and barrister-at-law in Sydney for ten years, for much of which time he was also a part-time lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Sydney. During his period as Chief Executive of the AHRC he will be on leave-of- absence form the University of St Andrews. 3. Professor Esler is not active on behalf of any political party and holds no other Ministerial appointments. 4. Professor Esler will receive an annual salary of £86,777 and will be eligible for performance awards of up to 15% of his basic salary. 5. The AHRC is the UK’s leading research and funding agency for the arts and humanities. It aims to provide high quality research on issues of importance to the arts and humanities community, the public sector, to business and government. Current programmes include ICT in the Arts and Humanities, Cultures of Consumption – a joint programme with the Economic and Social Research Council, and Designing for the 21st Century – a joint programme with the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. 6. More information can be found at

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