Academic and artist: Business lecturer’s double life at Cumbria’s university

Academic and artist: Business lecturer’s double life at Cumbria’s university name

Image credit: Elaine Vizor Photography

Leadership and coaching lecturer Dr Ron Lawson is enjoying a double life at the University of Cumbria.

An academic at the university’s business school working with learners in Cumbria and Lancashire, Ron is a student at its Institute of the Arts too.

On course to complete his MA in Contemporary Fine Art this summer, Ron is a painter and sculptor in his native North East where his next project is to produce a piece of public art that will play a vital part in a new urban regeneration scheme.

The commission, recently announced by Sunderland City Council, is to create a bust of a miner who was a pillar of the local community where a new residential development of council-built homes is to take shape.

Ron said: “With my own coaching and leadership students, who are often professionals and from their own corporate or business world, we explore reflective practice and use an arts-based approach to help them to overcome challenges and how to do things differently. Today, through my own studies, I suppose I’m practising what I preach to my own students.

“Opening up to new practices and art forms through the fine art MA has also allowed me to learn so much more about myself too. It has assisted in my bid writing process and it will influence the skills I use in the piece I’m doing for Sunderland City Council.”

A drummer in his spare time, Ron is a member of the academic team at the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership that delivers programmes ranging from master degree courses to flexible employer-led options such as continued professional development schemes, doctoral studies and degree apprenticeships.

Ron added: “Working and learning so much across the two very different institutes demonstrates to me how important it is to enhance and embrace collaborative behaviours, which can be quite difficult to do in an organisational setting. For my own students, this can help to develop their resilience as well as their awareness of the power of transformative learning.”

With childhood dreams to be artist and rockstar, Ron’s varied career to date has included time as a sheet and metalworker, working in industry and serving as a police officer.

The University of Cumbria has five institutes covering the arts, health, education, science and natural resources, and business and, by working collaboratively with partners and employers, is delivering higher level skills for the region and beyond through its accessible and progressive programmes for learners.

Dr Jane Topping, programme leader, fine art, University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts, said: “We delighted for Ron and can’t wait to see his work taking shape for this exceptionally exciting public art commission.

“Ron’s passion for lifelong learning, demonstrated through his studies on the MA Contemporary Fine Art programme over the last two years, strengthens and deepens his work as an academic. He is an example reflective of many of our academic colleagues across the university who are practitioners and professionals in their specific fields, meaning they are well placed and informed to support our students.”

The University of Cumbria is hosting its next open day on Saturday 19 June 2021. For information and to register to attend the virtual event, visit