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Vice-Chancellor: Professor Steven Spier

Steven Spier is the Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University. He took up his position in May 2017, after a period as Acting Vice-Chancellor.

About Steven

An accomplished academic who is an influential figure in higher education circles, both across the United Kingdom and at an international level, Steven joined Kingston University in September 2012 as Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. Under his leadership, the Faculty rose to prominence as one of the top providers of design education both in the United Kingdom and around the globe.

Before becoming Vice-Chancellor, Steven also held the post of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Culture and Civic Engagement – a role in which he was pivotal in strengthening links with the wider community and forging an extensive network of high-profile external partners. He was appointed Acting Vice-Chancellor in October 2016, before becoming Vice-Chancellor in May 2017.

A strong advocate of excellence in teaching, research and enterprise, Steven is a highly respected expert in architecture, theatre and dance. He joined Kingston University after heading the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Ulster.

Born in Canada, Steven grew up in the United States. He holds a degree in philosophy from Haverford College, Philadelphia, and completed postgraduate studies at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. His early career saw him based in a number of European cities, including a period teaching at the world-renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich. He was later founding principal of the HafenCity University Hamburg in Germany, which specialises in urban planning, architecture and civil engineering.

An acclaimed expert in contemporary Swiss architecture, Professor Spier's many published works include 'Swiss Made', named one of the books of the year by Architects' Journal in 2003. Also a specialist in choreography as a form of spatial organisation, he edited the first English-language book on renowned choreographer William Forsythe, 'William Forsythe and the Practice of Choreography. It Starts from Any Point'.

Steven has links with a wide range of cultural institutions. He was a founding director of the board of Architecture and Design Scotland, is an honorary fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and of German body Bund Deutscher Architekten and was a long-serving board member of Scottish Ballet. He is also a board member of the cutting edge Glasgow-based production house Cryptic – much vaunted for its work fusing music, sonic art, theatre and multimedia.

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Responsibilities and portfolio areas

Under the Instrument and Articles of Government, Steven is the chief executive of Kingston University, responsible for advising the Board of Governors on the education, character and mission of the University and for the organisation, management and leadership of its staff. He carries out these responsibilities with the advice of colleagues from across the University and, particularly, the Senior Leadership Team.

Education and professional qualifications

  • 1989 Master of Architecture, Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles
  • 1981 Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Haverford College, Haverford, Philadelphia

Professional activity

  • 2012–present: RIBA and RSUA Design Awards Jury
  • 2011–present: The New Metropolis interdisciplinary journal published by HafenCity University, Advisory Board
  • 2010–present: Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Panel of Academic Advisors
  • 2009–present: Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Peer Review College, Programme for Arts-based Research (PEEK)
  • 2009–11: The University of Brighton, chief external examiner, BA and Master in Architecture
  • 2008–present: The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Quadrennial Evaluation Committee, Institute of Architecture
  • 2006–09: The University of Westminster, London, external examiner, Diploma and Master in Architecture
  • 2006–11: London Metropolitan University, external examiner, Master of Arts Cities, Design & Regeneration
  • 2006: Architektur Olympiade Hamburg, Jury Member (Fachjury)
  • 2005: RIBA Design Awards Jury, RIAS Representative
  • 2005–present: AHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association) board member
  • 2005–present: Journal for Education in the Built Environment (JEBE), editorial board
  • 2003: AHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association), founder member
  • 2002–05: The University of Sheffield, external examiner, BA and Diploma in Architecture
  • 2001–04: Kingston University, London, external examiner, MA Art and Space

Contact us

Kingston University
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 9000