Meet Grace Lees-Maffei

Professor Grace Lees-Maffei won the Living the Values award in 2020, the highest honour given at the Vice-Chancellor's Awards. Grace goes above and beyond. From mentoring and training others to leading thought provoking research. She shares the pride she feels for her own academic journey and that of her students.

Job RoleSchool of Study
Professor of Design HistorySchool of Creative Arts

Grace, wearing a black top and gold earrings, smiles to camera

An inspiring leader

Grace was appointed lecturer at Herts in 1998 and senior lecturer in 2000. She subsequently studied for her doctorate part-time (awarded in 2005) and was promoted to reader in design history in 2010 and full professor in 2017.

In her role, Grace undertakes research and provides research leadership in her subject. This entails collaborative work internationally, and across the University.

As programme director for the professional doctorate in heritage, Grace coordinates a team of 20 supervisors from five different SBUs and delivers a programme of bespoke training workshops. She is also the founding coordinator of the Network of Women+ Professors.

Grace’s days are filled with meetings. These include supervisions with her doctoral students, workshops with the doctorate in heritage team, one-to-ones with her mentees, and research meetings.

Grace embodies the FACES values to an exceptional standard. She goes above and beyond in all of her roles. She consistently demonstrates her expertise and her research has an ongoing, far reaching impact on her field.

What Grace's colleagues said

"Grace thinks beyond her personal interests to the interest of colleagues, the school and the University as a whole. Setting up a mentoring scheme to help colleagues in their research ambitions, creating the Women Professor's Network and encouraging a collaborative atmosphere across the Professional Doctorate Programme"

How does it feel to be a VCA Winner?

Grace says, “when the Vice-Chancellor gate-crashed my annual appraisal online to tell me I had been shortlisted as a finalist, I was amazed! It means a great deal to me that the University has explicitly recognised and rewarded my working practices as being consistent with the FACES values. I feel honoured and delighted".

What's it like to be part of the Herts community?

Grace speaks highly of being part of the Herts community “the people I work with are friendly, skilled and generous with their time and expertise. We work collaboratively to achieve excellent results. The culture is positive and unpretentious.” she says. Grace talks of the pride she feels for her students, one of whom went onto study a PhD at the Royal College of Art and another who is now as Associate Dean at the University of Hertfordshire.

She feels immensely proud too of her achievements and to be able to represent her subject as professor of design history: “Apart from winning the 2020 Living the Values award, I must admit that my proudest moment at the University was being promoted to full Professor in 2017, thereby realising a long-held career goal".

When the Vice-Chancellor gate-crashed my annual appraisal online to tell me I had been shortlisted as a finalist, I was amazed! It means a great deal to me that the University has explicitly recognised and rewarded my working practices as being consistent with the FACES values. I feel honoured and delighted.