The Vice-Chancellor said: “I take a great deal of pride in our accomplishments, which were built together as a collegiate Cambridge community. I am especially proud of our joint leadership across collegiate Cambridge to deliver on our dual mission of education and research through the unprecedented COVID crisis. We kept the University on track and safe during its hardest years since World War II.”
The Vice-Chancellor continued: “But at the same time, the upheaval of COVID has led me to reassess my own years ahead from a personal perspective. As an expat living far from home, being separated from my children and grandchildren by closed borders has been hard. Being near my own family and friends is more important than ever. It remains of course an extraordinary experience to serve this great University as its Vice-Chancellor, and a tremendous honour to work with colleagues across the collegiate University and beyond – one that I am proud and enthusiastic to continue for another full year.
“Indeed, there is still much to do through our programme of recovery from the pandemic,” the Vice-Chancellor added. “I am fully committed to focusing on the priorities set by the University Council. The leadership transition next year will not detract from my commitment to the important work we have underway this year. The strength of our senior leadership and all our University community, the guidance of the Council, and the eventual choice of a highly able successor will allow me to pass the baton without missing a beat.”
Under Professor Toope’s leadership, Cambridge established the first-ever Priorities Framework for the University, launched and embedded Cambridge Zero across the University, led the university sector by pushing towards a carbon-neutral endowment fund, widened student access and participation, made remarkable progress on an ambitious £500 million Student Support Initiative, and created a new Foundation Year.
Mark Lewisohn, the Deputy Chair of the University Council, said: “The University Council is deeply grateful to Professor Toope who, as Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Council, has had a profound impact on the University. Under his leadership, the University has become more transparent and more robust in its processes and has launched several new and exciting research and teaching initiatives. Stephen’s focus on sustainability, which has led to the creation of Cambridge Zero, will be an important part of his legacy, as will his efforts to make Cambridge more accessible to students from all backgrounds. We look forward to working with Professor Toope in the year ahead as we continue to make progress on our agreed priorities.”
Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “I totally understand and fully respect Professor Toope’s decision, taken for the best of reasons, to complete his term of office in September 2022. I know this is not a decision he will have made lightly, but he can do it in the knowledge that he has left his mark on the University, and contributed to making it an even better place to study, work and undertake research. His leadership throughout the pandemic has been essential to getting Cambridge through the biggest crisis of our times, and I am grateful for his dedication and commitment over the past four years.”
The process to recruit a new Vice-Chancellor will be underway shortly.
Commenting on the departure of Professor Toope, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said: “I am very sorry that Professor Toope has decided to cut short his term of office. He has led the University through an extremely difficult time with grace, courage and dignity. I wish him every success and happiness in future, and hope that his successor will not have to endure the hostile environment that has faced so many of our most brilliant and successful institutions in recent times.”