School of Mechanical Engineering Academic, Lisa-Dionne Morris, Becomes UK’s 41st Female Black Professor

Lisa-Dionne Morris

A Design Engineer at the University of Leeds is the latest academic to join a small but growing number of female black professors.

Read our blog to find out about Lisa-Dionne Morris’ background, the 100 Black Woman Professors Now! initiative she participated in, and the department she sits in at the University.

Who is Lisa-Dionne Morris?

Lisa-Dionne Morris, a proud Yorkshirewoman of the African diaspora, is the Professor of Public and Industry Understanding of Capability Driven Design at the University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering.

With expertise in various areas of engineering, she is now the UK’s 41st black woman to be awarded a professorship.

100 Black Woman Professors Now!

After sixteen years working at the University of Leeds, Professor Morris joined the 100 Black Woman Professors Now! initiative, designed by the Women’s Higher Education Network to increase the number of black women holding roles in senior academic positions.

The programme launched in May 2021, when only 35 of 22,000 professors in the UK were black women. Lisa-Dionne has increased that figure to a total of 41, supporting career trajectories and challenging bias in higher education.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity”

Lisa-Dionne labelled the opportunity as “once in a lifetime” when she was matched with mentor and Executive Career Coach Marshah Dixon-Terry, who helped her recognise her worth inside and outside of the workplace.

“I started to understand the lived situation and experience of a female of the African diaspora in UK higher education and I wasn’t the only one facing barriers in my career progression to the professorial level. I therefore knew I had to make time for this opportunity.”

She also praised the University of Leeds for having caring colleagues as sources of support and the Staff Counselling Service for helping her through some difficult times:

“Any time there’s been a barrier, I’ve always leant into a solution and there’s always been somebody at the University to help in that solution space. I see the University of Leeds as a family. What you need in a family like ours is to be aware of cultural sensitivities, notice how people are feeling and ask if they’re alright. Having a strong principle of duty of care is so important. Without the help of those individuals in the Staff Counselling Service as well, my mental health would be in a very different place right now.”

Upon completing the programme, she reflected on her wellbeing and pride in being awarded a Professorship:

“You look around now and you know in your heart it was all worth it. That was the sense of wellbeing I had when I found out I was going to be a Professor. The old vision of the academic has its merits, but there is a new, different, exciting classification of the academic joining us. They may come from a different pathway, but their experience, expertise and professionalism are just as valuable in a university setting.”

The School of Mechanical Engineering

Lisa-Dionne works within the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds, alongside over 110 academics and research staff.

The unique engineering environment delivers high-quality research to solve real-world problems, particularly in engineering systems and design, thermofluids, surfaces and interfaces, medical devices, and regenerative medicine.

Study Engineering Management with the University of Leeds

By studying our online Engineering Management Masters course, you’ll learn from expert academics who work alongside Lisa-Dionne Morris in the School of Mechanical Engineering in a fully virtual learning environment.

The course is specifically designed for engineers who are looking to take the next step in their careers and reach management level by developing advanced management techniques and practical skills that tomorrow’s business leaders need.

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