Professor Leigh Sparks
Deputy Principal (Education and Students)
Professor Leigh Sparks is Deputy Principal with specific responsibility for education and students. He is also Professor of Retail Studies.
Professor Sparks was a geography undergraduate at the University of Cambridge and completed his PhD on retail employment at the University of Wales.
He has been Professor of Retail Studies at Stirling since 1992. Professor Sparks was a Visiting Professor at Florida State University from July 2000 to July 2001 and Visiting Professor at the University of Tennessee from June to December 2006.
Professor Sparks is well-known for his research into aspects of retailing. This is undertaken on behalf of public and private clients, for the research councils and for other funding bodies.
He has authored and edited a number of books, has published over 125 refereed journal articles as well as many practitioner, trade and newspaper pieces and runs a Scottish retailing blog www.stirlingretail.com.
Professor Sparks is the Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the “go-to” body for Scottish Government on matters to do with Scotland’s towns.
He was a member of the External Advisory Group for the Scottish Government’s National Town Centres Review and a member of the Expert Advisory Group investigating the lessons of the horsemeat scandal for the Scottish Government.
More recently, he Chaired the Government review of the Town Centre Action Plan and wrote the report ‘A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres’. He has also been on the Ministerial Retail Strategy Task Force and The Social Renewal Advisory Board.
Leigh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
As Deputy Principal Professor Sparks provides academic and strategic leadership in his areas of specific responsibility, education and students. Previously as the inaugural Head of the Stirling Graduate School he provided leadership and co-ordination of postgraduate provision across the University. He continued this in his role of Deputy Principal, Internationalisation and Graduate Studies.
Professor Sparks' current role in providing academic leadership for education and students, encompasses the vital issues of the student experience, academic quality and standards and the learning environment. The University of Stirling has always prided itself on its quality in these areas - a position we aim to enhance further, given that these themes are critical in the successful delivery of the strategic plan.