Press Release: Professor Paul O'Prey CBE Appointed Chair of Trustees For The Edward James Foundation

The Foundation responsible for West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Professor Paul O’Prey CBE has been appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Edward James Foundation which is responsible for West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. The College is charting an ambitious trajectory of growth and is recognised for excellence in arts and conservation education.  At the end of December 2019 Professor O’Prey will replace the Hon Peter Benson LVO MA FCA who is stepping down after seventeen years as a Trustee, ten of them as Chairman.

For the last fifteen years Professor O’Prey has been Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Roehampton, London, stepping down in August 2019. Before Roehampton he was at the University of Bristol for sixteen years. Under Professor O’Prey’s leadership, Roehampton has built a strong reputation for academic excellence and social outreach, and established itself as a highly respected modern research-intensive university. Professor O’Prey was awarded Commander of the British Empire in 2016 for his services to higher education and the literary history of the First World War. In particular he is known for his work on war poetry. He joined The Edward James Foundation as a Trustee in 2015.

Set in six and a half thousand acres of the South Downs national park, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international profile for arts and conservation education. Students can study from beginner to advanced levels, on 800 short courses as well as degrees and diplomas from Foundation to Masters Level. Students achieve ground-breaking work in fine arts or craft and work at the cutting edge of conservation techniques used to protect our national and international cultural heritage, working with many world-class museums and libraries.

Professor O’Prey commented, “I’m delighted to be taking over as Chair at West Dean at a time when so many exciting new initiatives are coming through. The College offers unparalleled opportunities for conservationists and artists to develop their skills and explore their practice in an inspiring setting, and it is a huge privilege to be a part of making that happen.”

Alex Barron, Chief Executive of The Edward James Foundation commented, “I am excited by Professor O’Prey’s appointment to this role; his wealth of experience is highly relevant in the context of our strategic plans. Our Ten-Year Vision for expansion of the College includes increased entry points and study pathways for students, investment in outreach and campus development, and a growing network of partnerships nationally and internationally. I am extremely grateful to Peter Benson for his inestimable contribution which helped provide the springboard for this next phase of the College’s development.” 

Peter Benson said, "I am extremely pleased to be handing over to Paul O’Prey. There has been much change at West Dean over recent years. One aim now would seem to be to drive those changes forward in the context of its exciting long term developing future. Paul, with all his experience, is admirably and especially suited to that task."

Professor O’Prey leads the following group of Trustees: Lady Caroline Egremont; Caroline Griffith; Alison Richmond, Professor Nigel Llewellyn PhD FSA; Francis Plowden FCA; David Seddon; Mike McCart and Martin Ashley MVO, RIBA.

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Notes to editors

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, who was recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early twentieth century’.

The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.

All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked or Mandy Ross

Telephone: 07790 732448 or 01243 818277

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ