Head of the School of Welsh steps down
26 July 2017
After more than 20 years as Head of School of Welsh, Professor Sioned Davies is stepping down from the role and embarking on a year’s sabbatical leave before returning to lecture in September 2018.
The first ever female professor of Welsh, Professor Davies has played a crucial role in the development of Welsh as a discipline, with significant contributions to Welsh political, cultural, literary and social life.
Under her leadership the School of Welsh has grown in both size and quality and is recognised today for its world-leading expertise across the discipline in fields including medieval studies, language acquisition, policy and planning.
In 2007, Professor Davies’s annotated translation of The Mabinogion was recognised for its transformative contribution to English-language creative writing, heritage management and tourism, and contemporary storytelling.
The widely-acclaimed re-examination of these eleven tales has enabled modern audiences to understand how the stories would have been understood by medieval listeners and, crucially, performed. A rich collection of explanatory notes and indices also help to enhance the reader's understanding of these medieval texts.
Speaking about her time as Head of School, Professor Davies said: “It has been a real privilege to lead the School for all these years. One reason why I have stayed in the post so long is because of the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff – each one is willing to go the extra mile to help students and to support each other. This is reflected not only in performance indicators, but also in the high esteem by which the School and its staff are held externally...”
One language for all
Alongside her research achievements, Professor Davies has had considerable impact on the development of the Welsh language in Wales.
In 2012, she chaired a group tasked with reviewing how Welsh is taught as a second language at Key Stages 3 and 4, specifically how to address poor standards and low attainment. The recommendations of the resultant report, ‘One language for all: Welsh at Key Stages 3 and 4’ (2013) are now playing a key part in the reconfiguring of education in Welsh schools.
Professor Davies has also led on numerous innovative schemes that have now become established parts of the provision offered by the School and the University. These include the Welsh for All programme, which has enabled hundreds of students, both home and international, to learn Welsh during their time at Cardiff; and the Welsh Government funded National Sabbatical Programme which has transformed the ability of hundreds of educational practitioners to teach through the medium of Welsh.
Dr Dylan Foster Evans who will succeed Professor Davies as Head of School on August 1st 2017 said: “Sioned’s impact on the School and in the fields of Welsh language and literature cannot be underestimated...”