THE vice chancellor of the University of Chester is retiring from his £250,000 a year job, it has emerged.

Tim Wheeler will hang up his robes at the end of 2019, aged 69, after more than two decades at the helm.

The post will be advertised externally later this year.

University bosses say Prof Wheeler has overseen “one of the most prolific and progressive periods in the institution’s 180 year history”.

He broke the news to the university’s staff in his New Year message, during which he described the “pleasure and privilege” of being first the institution’s Principal and then its first Vice-Chancellor.

Prof Wheeler said: “It has been a great privilege and pleasure to lead a team that has achieved so much in a relatively short period of time in establishing the University of Chester in its current form.”

Under his leadership, the university secured Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) in 2003, full university status in 2005 and Research Degree Awarding Powers (RDAP) in 2007.

During his tenure, the number of students has risen from 4,000 to 18,300 (recruited from 130 countries) locally, with a further 2,400 students gaining University of Chester accredited qualifications at partner institutions across the UK and the wider world.

The university now provides employment for around 1,550 staff directly, compared with under 500 in 1998, and helps sustain 3,000 more jobs regionally as part of its annual economic impact of approaching half a billion pounds.

Twenty-one years ago, turnover at the institution was just £14 million, with a notional £20,000 surplus. Today it has a £10.1 million surplus on a turnover of £128.4 million and net assets of £81 million (from just £4 million in 1998).

Chester is also said to be one of just a handful of universities to have a double Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ rating for primary and secondary education.

A university spokesman said: “Professor Wheeler has ensured the university has retained its liberal arts provision and mission to promote students to pursue public service, while developing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and support of the professions.

“All Cheshire’s police officers and most of its teachers and nurses are now trained at the University of Chester, which also provides teacher education and nursing degrees in the Isle of Man, teacher education in North Wales and nursing education in Jersey.”

Prof Wheeler, is married with three daughters and one grand-daughter, remains busy trying to establish a medical school at the university.

The acquisition of Thornton Science Park, formerly used by Shell’s academics as an international research hub, enabled him to introduce the country’s first comprehensive faculty of engineering for two decades.

Under his term of office, the university also recently acquired the historic Queen’s Park Campus (Western Command during World War Two) to house the University’s Business School, shortlisted for Business School of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2018.

The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, President of University Council governing body, said: “On behalf of the council of the university, I would express our deep appreciation for Professor Wheeler’s leadership of the University for over 20 years.

“It has been a period of very successful development and expansion, which has been a blessing to the many thousands of students who have graduated, and also to the wider communities which the university seeks to serve.

“We look forward to the appointment of a worthy successor as Vice-Chancellor, and a careful period of transition to new leadership. We wish Professor Wheeler every blessing on his retirement.”

Ben France, Chester Students’ Union (CSU) President, added: “On behalf of CSU and the student body, I would like to thank Professor Wheeler for his support and encouragement. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”


Professor Wheeler was appointed as the inaugural Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester in 2005, having been the institution’s Principal when he first came to the institution in 1998.

He was educated at Colwyn Bay Grammar School, then the University College of North Wales, Bangor, where he obtained a Batchelor’s degree and Doctorate in Psychology.

During his career, he has held posts at universities in England, Ireland and Scotland, including: Sheffield Hallam University; Dublin City University; Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen; Bournemouth University; Southampton Solent University and a period as a Senior Visiting Research Scholar at St John’s College, Oxford.

Much of his work has involved academic and industrial consultancies, in addition to experience in Europe, America and Australia. He has published over 120 articles, books and research reports in a diverse range of areas including psychopharmacology, dyslexia, communications and safety.