Joe Smith is ‘thrilled’ with his appointment. ‘The breadth and scale of the Society’s reach is extraordinary and makes this a rare and compelling role,’ he says. ‘The Society is well positioned with an ambitious and comprehensive strategy in place, a loyal membership base and secure finances. I look forward to building on these foundations and taking the Society on to the next phase of its illustrious history.’
The new director has more than 20 years of experience in environment and geography research, first at the University of Cambridge and then the Open University. He became a professor of environment and society at the OU in 2016, and was appointed Head of Geography in 2017. He is also a director of the clock-making company, Smith of Derby.
The Society’s president, Nicholas Crane, says: ‘We are delighted to welcome Joe to the Society and look forward to starting work with him. His experience as a geographer working with people from across and outside the geography community will stand him in good stead for the role of director.’
The announcement comes eight months after the Society’s current director, Dr Rita Gardner CBE, made the decision to step down. Gardner has spent 22 years at the helm of the RGS-IBG. Of her time in charge, Crane stated: ‘Rita has been an inspirational leader of the Society over the last two decades and I would take this opportunity to thank her for all her work in developing the Society and raising the profile of geography during this time. She leaves behind a world-leading, innovative and welcoming organisation that is an influential and effective advocate for the discipline.’
Gardner will begin her handover to Smith on 16 April with a four-week transition period.
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