Liverpool Hope University has named Professor Ian Vandewalle as Everton Chair in Social Responsibility – a brand new role that will support the new five-year research partnership between Everton Football Club and the University’s researchers.
Professor Vandewalle will bring researchers from the University’s departments of Health Sciences, Education, Social Work, Social Science and its Business School together with Everton in the Community to commission new research and help the club tap into the latest developments in these fields.
Research will be carried out across Everton in the Community’s six pillars - health and wellbeing, sports development, community and business development, employment, education and training, youth engagement, and Everton Free School and Sixth Form.
One of Professor Vandewalle ‘s first jobs will be to oversee the first research project of the new partnership, where university researchers will work with Everton in the Community staff to quantify and provide detailed evidence of the social impact the Club’s Charity makes within the City of Liverpool. The findings will provide insight, which will enable improvements by focusing resource in areas that achieve the greatest social impact.
Professor Vandewalle will be a regular visitor to Everton’s new community space ‘The People’s Hub’ to see first-hand how the club engages with its fans and the wider community. His role will also involve sharing findings with other football clubs and cities, and promoting best practice among football clubs with regard to social responsibility.
Professor Vandewalle is Pro Vice-Chancellor at Liverpool Hope, where he established its Business School in 2000. He began his career as a lecturer in Health Sciences, before moving into business and development. His appointment follows that of Professor Barrett-Baxendale, MBE, Executive Chair of Everton in the Community and Director at Everton Football Club, as an Honorary Visiting Professor at Liverpool Hope.
Both Professor Vandewalle and Professor Barrett-Baxendale will mark their new roles with free public lectures in late Spring.
Professor Vandewalle said: “We know that football has a fantastic potential for social good, and Everton already has an outstanding reputation for its relationship with its fans and the wider community. Its Community Hub is a fine example of that, and we are excited by the Club’s drive to do even more. We want to explore new avenues and create a proven model for how football clubs can make even more of a positive impact on the world around them.”
Professor Barrett-Baxendale said: “Professor Vandewalle is just the right appointment to help drive the partnership forward. He is a respected academic and the research conducted by his team will provide Everton in the Community with the ability to quantify the social impact the charity makes in our community.
"Having a dedicated research facility led by Professor Vandewalle will help to benchmark, test ideas and help us take new initiatives forward. The outcomes provided from this partnership will ensure we can optimize the life-changing and life-saving work delivered by the charity.”
Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice Chancellor & Rector at Liverpool Hope University said: "Professor Vandewalle is without doubt the right person for this role. The whole appointing panel agreed unanimously that his expertise in business, community development, and health sciences makes him the perfect fit. We are excited by the potential that this partnership has to equip Everton Football Club with even more tools to have a lasting positive impact on its fans and the wider community."