After 22 years at the helm, the Society’s Director, Dr Rita Gardner CBE, has announced her intention to step down in late March 2018.
Under Rita’s leadership the Society has undergone a period of substantial development: growing and diversifying its audiences, acting as a persuasive advocate for geography, enhancing access to its Collections, improving the building and its facilities, becoming a professional body, and much more besides. Around £34m has been raised to fund new developments. It is widely regarded as one of the leading and most innovative of the learned societies and professional bodies in the UK. The Society’s activities engage over 3.5 million people every year across a wide range of members, specialist interest groups, professional and public audiences.
On her decision to step down Rita said: “It has been a real challenge, pleasure, and honour, to lead and serve the Society. Shaping the organisation after the merger of the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers has been an exhilarating journey greatly aided by many wonderful travelling companions – colleagues both internal and external, trustees, Fellows and members, advisors, donors and friends – and with a few ‘mountains’ along the way!
“It is the right time, I feel, for me personally to depart, as Martin (my husband) and I want to share some good and exciting years together away from work. The Society and geography are in great shape, the Society has a clear sense of identity in the 21st century, we are seen as ‘home’ by the breadth of geographical communities, and we are highly respected by stakeholders for the work we do for geography and geographers. We remain true to our support for research and higher education, for expeditions and fieldwork, and for our members; and now our beneficiaries also include many in the schools, policy and professional communities, and the public. We are financially sound, and our new strategy for 2017-2021 has been approved, retaining continuity and building firmly on the Society’s current breadth of activities and audiences.
“A new Director will bring new energy at the helm of the Society and that will, I hope, be exciting for everyone. I shall, of course, continue to be an active Director until I leave.”
Nicholas Crane, the Society’s President, said: “Under Rita’s leadership, the Society’s objective to advance geographical science – both physical and human – has been pursued with enormous energy and inspiration. Success has followed upon success. That the Society is so well-placed to engage, in many different ways, with the geographical challenges of the 21st century owes much to her determination and drive.”
The Society’s Council has put in place a process for appointing a successor. This will be led by Co-chairs of the Appointment Board: Nicholas Crane and Professor Dame Judith Rees (immediate past President).
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