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Barnes storming

The retiring vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University discusses pandemic leadership and a digital future

The first coronavirus lockdown did not start well for Liz Barnes, vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University. In that strange limbo towards the end of March 2020 when shops and restaurants remained open but nobody was supposed to go to them, she announced on Twitter that she was “off to the pub—not sure when I’ll be doing this again, happy Friday”.

The accusations of irresponsibility that followed prompted a swift retraction on the grounds that she had made a mistake at the end of a “long, stressful week”. She said that her aim to encourage people to relax at a difficult time had been lost in translation.

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