Staffordshire University games and esports senior leadership shake-up: Dr Bobbie Fletcher leaves after 28 years as new heads join, former student who quit to teach esports broadcast production at another uni

staffordshire university outside

Staffordshire University has made a number of senior leadership changes within its games and esports departments.

Dr Bobbie Fletcher has left after almost three decades at the university. She has been instrumental in games education at Staffs and within the UK, and is an experienced head of department having held various games and technology leadership roles at the university.

Most recently her title was head of department in games and visual effects and associate professor in the School of Digital, Technologies and Arts.

Nia Wearn has also left as course director for esports, games studies and communities, after spending 15 years with the university.

Dr Chris Headleand has been appointed professor of digital innovation, and head of the department of games design and technology. He will join Staffordshire University in December.

He will be looking to lead on about half of the games provision, but mostly development and design – the esports side will be covered by a different department lead. Esports News UK understands this person has not yet been announced and no changes have been made at an esports course level yet – we will post an update when we hear more.

Chris moves from the University of Lincoln, where he worked during the past five years, most recently as director of teaching and learning, and associate professor.

“I am really excited to take up my new post,” Chris said on LinkedIn. “Staffordshire has an amazing reputation in the games development world, and I am really looking forward to working with the team. The institution has been really welcoming, and I am really looking forward to contributing towards their teaching, research, knowledge exchange and civic missions as professor and head of department.

“As a new professor, I am hoping to continue building on my research and knowledge exchange work around digital education, pedagogic innovation, virtual interaction, and serious games. I’m always keen to work with people on games or education-based projects.”

In addition to this, LJ Filotrani has joined as head of department at the Staffordshire University London campus.

The idea is that Staffordshire University’s Stoke-on-Trent and London campuses will act more independently going forwards, with the London curriculum/courses led by LJ, including games, esports, computer science, cyber security, concept art and more.

LJ has worked at London South Bank University for the past nine years, with roles such as associate head of department for creative technologies and acting programme director for media production. She was also a senior lecturer in journalism.

The London campus has a range of other technology degrees and the campus as a whole is currently led by Matt Brindley-Sadler, director of Staffordshire University London.

“I am really looking forward to working with the team. The institution has been really welcoming, and I am really looking forward to contributing towards their teaching, research, knowledge exchange and civic missions as professor and head of department.”

Dr Chris Headleand, Staffordshire University

Elsewhere, a former student of the esports course – who left early because he was frustrated with the course – will now be teaching esports broadcast production at the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies in Nottingham.

Jakub ‘Atroix’ Szmyt set up Esports Academy to host of free content including weekly courses, academic content and podcasts, and this has now transitioned into his new sessional tutor role at Confetti.

Jakub works in freelance broadcast production in esports (you can see an insight into his work in this gTV video), and will work at Confetti in-between esports events. He has helped make changes to the module at Confetti and will focus on ‘running as many events as possible and making each session fully interactive’.

“After experiencing esports education myself and not being a massive fan of the teaching content and methods, I decided to pursue teaching on the side with my own project – the Esports Academy,” Jakub told Esports News UK.

“Since then, I’ve been contacted by Confetti to help teach broadcast production with all sessions being hands-on in a fully kitted facility that’s always available for use. I will still be working in broadcast full-time, however in my off weeks I will be teaching students.

“One thing that majorly impressed me about this course is that it’s specialised into esports broadcast in an institute that already focuses on live events, production and more, so any content that needs to be taught is taught by someone with experience.”

The news comes after Staffordshire University’s esports degree course – first launched in September 2018 – received a mixed response from students and members of the esports industry.

Some criticised the quality of course content, management and esports knowledge of certain lecturers, while others took a more positive outlook and spoke of the course’s benefits.

Dr Bobbie Fletcher previously told Esports News UK that the university was looking at “refreshing the esports course completely for September 2022”.

Further reading: Course Corrections: – what lessons can be learnt from Staffordshire University and the UK’s first esports degree?

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