Nicola Dandridge BA, LLB
Chief Executive, Universities UK

Nicola DandridgeAs Chief Executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge provides leadership of the organisation which advances and protects the interests of the Higher Education Sector in Britain. With a degree in Classics from the University of Oxford, Nicola Dandridge also achieved degrees in law from the University of Glasgow and London Metropolitan University.

Ms Dandridge subsequently qualified as a lawyer, initially working in the City before moving to Glasgow to requalify in Scotland where she worked for 10 years specialising in equality law. From 2006 to 2009 Nicola Dandridge was Chief Executive of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). The ECU was tasked with promoting equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education across all four nations of the UK, and in colleges in Scotland. As Chief Executive, she restructured the ECU’s work to focus on the equality implications of key issues for the higher education sector, such as research assessment, admissions, work placements, governance and internationalisation. Nicola Dandridge was subsequently appointed Chief Executive of Universities UK in September 2009.

David Frank Ford OBE, BA, MA, PhD
Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge

Professor Tom Greggs and David Ford OBEDavid F. Ford OBE, Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge, is a distinguished academic and public theologian. After studies in Dublin, Cambridge, Yale and Tübingen, he lectured in the University of Birmingham (1976-1991), lived in the inner city, and was active in local church life and urban theology.

He was Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge University (1991-2015), and Founding Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme (2001-2015). His research interests include Christian theologians and theologies, biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, inter-faith engagement, theology and poetry, the shaping of universities and of the field of theology and religious studies, and theology and poetry. He co-founded the practice of Scriptural Reasoning, is Co-Chair of Global Covenant Partners, and has been theological adviser to three Archbishops of Canterbury (Runcie, Carey, Welby).

He serves on the boards of:

  • Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton;
  • Westminster Abbey Institute;
  • Institute for Comparative Scripture and Interreligious Dialogue, Minzu University, Beijing;
  • Cambridge Muslim College.

He works closely with the International Federation of L’Arche Communities. He was awarded the 2012 Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation.

Dame Frances Cairncross DBE, CBE, FRSE
Chair of Court, Heriot-Watt University

Dame Frances CairncrossFrances Cairncross is the former Rector of Exeter College, Oxford University. Prior to her decade at Oxford, she was a journalist, spending 13 years on The Guardian as an economic columnist and 20 years at The Economist magazine as a senior editor.

She is the author of a number of books, including

  • "The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution is Changing our Lives" and
  • "Costing the Earth: The Challenge for Governments, the Opportunities for Business."

She formerly chaired the executive committee of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and in 2001-07 she chaired the Economic and Social Research Council. Frances Cairncross is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Senior Fellow at the School of Public Policy, UCLA.

In June 2015 she was made a Dame of the British (DBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to education and in recognition of a very successful career as a leading British economist, journalist and academic. Dame Frances went to school in Glasgow, and subsequently to university at Oxford and at Brown University in the United States.

Suzi Digby OBE
Choral Conductor and Music Educator

Suzi DigbySuzi Digby OBE was born Japan and lived in Hong Kong, Mexico and the Philippines before settling in London and Cambridge. She is an internationally renowned Choral Conductor and Music Educator. She has trailblazed the revival of singing in UK schools and the community over two and a half decades.

Suzi Digby founded and runs many influential National arts/education organisations including:

  • The Voices Foundation (the UK's leading Primary Music Education Charity);
  • Voce Chamber Choir (one of London's finest young Chamber Choirs);
  • Vocal Futures (Nurturing young audiences for Classical Music);
  • Singing4Success (Leadership and 'Accelerated Learning' for Corporates) and
  •  The London Youth Choir (a pyramid of 5 choirs, aged 8-22, serving all ethnic communities in London's 33 boroughs).

February 2016 sees the public launch of her professional vocal consort, Ora (commissioning new choral works as 'reflections' of old masterworks). Ora is London-based with residencies planned in the Far East and South America. Ora's debut albums will be released on the Harmonia Mundi label in 2016. In 2014, she launched her Californian professional vocal consort, The Golden Bridge.

Suzi Digby has conducted many major choral-orchestral works with, amongst others: BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Mozart Players, the English Concert, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Brandenburg Festival Orchestra. She is also a visiting Professor at University of Southern California (Choral Studies).

Samuel Jackson BA
Managing Editor, Classic FM

Samuel JacksonSamuel (Sam) Sam Jackson is the Managing Editor of Global Radio's national classical music station, Classic FM, responsible for the station's entire on-air output - a position he has held since 2011. Sam Jackson graduated with a First class degree in Music from the University of York in 2004. A talented musician he has also achieved ABRSM Grade 8 (distinction) in Piano and Clarinet; and Grade 7 (distinction) in Saxophone. His love of radio began whilst a student at university, where he undertook a placement at BBC Radio York. Jackson has maintained his links with his alma mater and, in 2011, became a member of the University of York Advisory Board for Music.

His career began as a production assistant, spending two summers as part of the BBC Proms team; following this, he worked on a variety of broadcasts for BBC Classical Music TV and was also invited to chair the student jury at the Golden Prague International Television Festival.

Sam Jackson’s role at Classic FM includes oversight of the radio station’s music policy, programming of the Classic FM Live concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, and work across Classic FM's range of books, downloads and album releases. During this period, Classic FM won Gold in the Music Programming Award category at the Radio Academy Awards (2008).  He made major changes to the on-air sound of the network, broadening the range of music played and increasing the number of live Classic FM concerts across the United Kingdom. In 2013, Classic FM was named both UK Radio Brand of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards and Best Classical Format at the New York International Radio Festival.

Since February 2016, in addition to his role running Classic FM, Sam Jackson has taken on responsibility for another global brand, Smooth Radio, which also broadcasts across the UK.

Nanette Lilian Margaret Milne OBE MBChB FFARCS
Lately Member of the Scottish Parliament

Nanette Milne OBENanette Milne served as a Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland until the dissolution of Parliament in March 2016. Awarded the OBE in 1994 for political and public services, Nanette Milne’s cumulative contributions to Aberdeen and the North east include:

  • 10 years as a Community Councillor;
  • 11 years as a City Councillor;
  • 6 years as a Director of Grampian Enterprise Ltd, and
  • 12 years as a Member of the Scottish Parliament.

A member of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, she has been front bench spokesperson variously for Health and Community Care and also the Environment.

In addition, she has been a long-serving member of the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee. An active member of 20 Cross Party Groups (CPG), she served as Co-Convenor of the CPGs on Oil & Gas, Cancer, and Diabetes. Fifteen of the CPGs she attended were health related, reflecting Dr Milne’s support of many public groups concerned with health inequalities and concerns.

Educated at Aberdeen High School for Girls and the University of Aberdeen, she qualified as a doctor spent nearly 20 years working for the NHS in Aberdeen hospitals.

From 1988-1999 Dr Milne was the Aberdeen City Councillor for the Cults ward. She sat on the Planning Committee for 8 years, during which time she developed an interest in environmental issues, and became a founder trustee of the Aberdeen Countryside Project.

She also became involved in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, and is still an enthusiastic trustee and “Friend” of the festival. She also became a trustee of the Aberdeen-Gomel Trust, formed after the Chernobyl disaster, and is still an active member of the Friends of Gomel. A keen supporter of her alma mater, she also served on University Court for eight years.

George Kynoch Yule
Vice Chairman, Aberdeen Football Club

George YuleA native of Aberdeen, George K Yule is one of the City’s most prominent and successful businessmen. He is presently full-time Vice Chairman of Aberdeen Football Club and is the former Chairman of the Aberdeen Sports Village.

Educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, Mr Yule is a qualified mechanical engineer, with a career spanning three decades in the oil and gas sector.

Prior to setting up his own environmental solutions company, Clean Ocean (UK), in 1999, he spent almost 18 years with Shell UK in Aberdeen. He was also CEO and a major shareholder in Dominion Gas having led a management buyout in 2006; following this up with two further acquisitions and thereafter internationalising the business before standing down in 2011. George Yule’s success was recognised in 2009 with the award of Grampian Industrialist of the Year.

Outside his professional career, George Yule’s great passion is sport. He has been a professional footballer, having played for English club Bury FC, and is a former manager of Highland League team, Deveronvale. 

In 2007, his interest and experience made him the obvious choice as the first Chairman of the Aberdeen Sports Village. A former President of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, he is a Burgess of Guild of the City of Aberdeen.

Professor Alice Brown, CBE, FRSE, AcSS, FRCP Edin, FRSA, Cipfa (Hon)
Chair, Scottish Funding Council

Professor Alice Brown Professor Alice Brown was appointed Chair of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in 2013. She is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Edinburgh and was previously the University’s Head of Department of Politics and a Vice- Principal, as well as Co-Director of its Institute of Governance. With extensive research experience gained during her academic career and through her appointment on the Economic and Social Research Council, she has published widely on economic and labour market policy, equal opportunities, women and politics, Scottish politics, constitutional change and administrative justice.

Professor Brown has played an active role in public life in Scotland and the UK and has served on a wide range of public bodies and organisations, including the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Nolan Committee), the Equal Opportunities Commission in Scotland, and the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland – among many others.

Alice Brown was appointed as the first Scottish Public Services Ombudsman in 2002, a post she held until her retirement in 2009. She was elected as the General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011 and stood down from this position on becoming Chair of SFC. Her contributions to public life were recognized in the Queen’s Honours list 2010 when she was awarded a CBE.

Professor Brown currently serves as: Trustee, David Hume Institute; Member, Board of Governors, Public Policy Institute for Wales; Member, Strategic Group on Women and Work, Scottish Government; and Member of the Programme Board of Scotland's Future Forum.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE FRSC FInstP FRSE
Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh

Professor Lesley YellowleesLesley Yellowlees completed both her BSc in Chemical Physics and her PhD at the University of Edinburgh. 

After completing research positions in Brisbane, Australia and Glasgow she returned to an academic position in Edinburgh in 1986 and gained a personal chair in Inorganic Electrochemistry in 2005. She served as Head of the School of Chemistry at Edinburgh from 2005-10.

Currently she is Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

In 2012 she became the first woman President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a post she held for 2 years. Her academic interests include inorganic electrochemistry and spectroelectrochemistry, solar energy, the public engagement of science and the promotion of women in science.

She was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to science, a CBE in 2014 for services to chemistry, and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012. 

Anne Courage Harper MA
Trustee, University of Aberdeen Development Trust

Anne HarperAnne Harper, a graduate of the University, has contributed greatly to public life in Scotland. A long-term supporter of the University, she is a Trustee of the Development Trust, has served on the University Court, was a member of the Department of Accountancy Liaison Group, and served as a director of AURIS.

She has participated in several University activities including the Women’s Centenary Conference in 1994 where she led a seminar on "Women in Business". Ms Harper was a senior manager with BP, latterly in charge of External Affairs in Scotland. 

She has also been a lay member of HM Inspectorate of Schools, a member of the Scottish Churches Industrial Mission and a member of the Executive of the Scottish Council of the European Movement. 

She has served as a member of the General Teaching Council for Scotland and Vice Chairman, Conservative Group for Europe. Between 1996 and 1998 she was President of the Scottish Oil Club. She was also formerly s Trustee of the Gordon Cook Foundation, serving as its Chair between 2010 and 2013.

Dame Teresa Rees DBE, FAcSS, FLSW
Professor Emerita, Cardiff University

Professor Teresa ReesProfessor Teresa Rees CBE is one of the UK’s leading social scientists, with an international reputation for her ground-breaking research on gender inequalities in education, training, labour market policies and, most recently, in science policy. She has also worked closely with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, developing programmes on research leadership.

Teresa Rees recently retired as Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, where she was Pro Vice-Chancellor from 2004-10.

Professor Rees’ research focuses on gender mainstreaming and is designed to inform evidence-based policy to promote gender equality, for example for European Union Member States, international companies and universities. She is a long-term expert adviser to the European Commission on mainstreaming equalities in universities through structural change, and on integrating a sex and gender dimension into scientific research to improve its quality.

Teresa Rees is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Learned Society for Wales. A former Equal Opportunities Commissioner, she received the ‘Welsh Woman of the Year’ award for ‘outstanding contributions to women in Wales’, and in 2002 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her work on equal opportunities and higher education.

In 2015, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to social sciences.

Dame Anne Begg DBE, MA, PGDE
Lately Member of Parliament

Dame Anne BeggDame Anne Begg is an alumna of the University of Aberdeen with a distinguished political career and a reputation as a good campaigning constituency politician. Brought up in Brechin, she was a secondary school teacher then head of English in Angus schools before being elected Labour MP for Aberdeen South in 1997 until 2015.

Dame Anne has the rare genetic condition, Gaucher's disease. She was 1988’s Disabled Scot of the Year, the first permanent wheelchair user to be elected to the Commons since 1880 and was awarded a DBE in the 2011 New Year's Honours List for services to equal opportunities and disabled people.

In Parliament, Dame Anne served on the Work and Pensions Select Committee which she chaired between 2010-15 during a time of unprecedented welfare and pensions reform. She was also on the Chairmen’s Panel and was the de-facto chair of the Speaker's Conference on Political Representation which reported in 2010.

Dame Anne in now a Council member of the SSSC and Patron of a number of charities.

Professor Pamela Gillies CBE BSc MEd MMedSci PhD FRSA FFPH FacSS Hon FRCPS (Glasg) FRSE
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Glasgow Caledonian University

Professor Pamela GilliesProfessor Pamela Gillies CBE is an internationally respected academic and university leader. Professor Gillies has also made major contributions in the field of public health; she has researched and written widely on cross-cultural perspectives on HIV/AIDS, sexuality and health, partnership responses to health improvement and community development responses to inequalities in health focusing on the potential of social action for health.

In 2012, Professor Gillies was awarded the CBE for her services to education and public health.

On graduating from the University of Aberdeen with her Masters degree in 1976, Professor Pamela Gillies was awarded a competitive Scottish Home & Health Department Fellowship to train in community health in England and graduated first with an MMedSci and then subsequently with a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Nottingham.

She began her research career in 1978 as a research officer with the Department of Education in Sheffield evaluating health promotion initiatives and moved back to Nottingham in 1984 to take up a Lectureship in Public Health Medicine. She moved through the ranks to Senior Lecturer, Professor of Public Health and Head of the School of Community Health Sciences before becoming a Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham in 2001. During her career, Pamela Gillies has worked in San Francisco on an Abbott Fellowship for AIDS Research (1988), in Geneva at the World Health Organisations Global Programme on AIDS (1989), at Harvard as a Harkness Fellow and Visiting Professor in Health and Human Rights (1992-93) and in London on a seconded post as the first Executive Director of Research at the Health Education Authority for England (1996-99).

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was elected a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians of London in 2002. She was elected as an Academician of the Academy of Learned Societies of Social Sciences in 2005 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 2015.

Mrs Alison Jean Catherine Skene MBE DL OStJ MA
Lately Vice Lord-Lieutenant

Mrs Alison SkeneMrs Alison Skene is an alumna of the University, a company director of a local business, a dedicated volunteer to local charities, and long-term supporter of the University. She attended Aberdeen High School for Girls and graduated from the University in 1960 with an MA degree. Following a post-graduate year at Aberdeen College of Education, she taught at Torry Junior Secondary and then taught French at Aberdeen Academy. She was subsequently a director of the Skene Group of companies.

Mrs Skene’s local involvements have included membership of Queen's Cross/Harlaw Community Council and the Grampian Houston Association. The St John Association and McMillan Cancer Relief are among her charitable commitments. 

She was a past President of the Junior Chamber Wives Group and was made a Burgess in 1998.

Mrs Skene was installed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Aberdeen in 1999 and was later appointed Vice Lord-Lieutenant. Retiring from this role, she was recognised by the award of an MBE.

Alison Skene's interest in and concern for the University of Aberdeen have resulted in long-standing membership of the Business Committee of the General Council and the Alumnus Association Management Committee. In 1990 she was as elected a General Council Assessor to the University Court serving until 2002. She participated in a range of University committees, showing a particular interest in student welfare and leading organisation of social activities for the Quincentenary celebrations.

The Rt Hon the Baroness Jowell DBE PC MA
Lately Member of Parliament

The Rt Hon the Baroness Jowell and Very Rev Professor Iain TorranceDame Tessa Jane Jowell DBE is a distinguished graduate of the University of Aberdeen who served as Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood from 1992 to 2015. During this time she held many senior ministerial and shadow ministerial portfolios. She was also Minister for the Olympics (2005-2010) and Shadow Minister for the Olympics and Shadow Minister for London until September 2012, resigning after the London Olympic Games. In 2015 she unsuccessfully sought the Labour Party candidacy for the London Mayoral election.

Tessa Jowell educated at St Margaret's School for Girls in Aberdeen, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. She subsequently became a social worker, initially working in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh and as a childcare officer in Lambeth.

Following training as a psychiatric social worker at Goldsmiths College she worked at the Maudsley Hospital, and later became assistant director of the mental health charity Mind.

Her political career began when she was elected to Camden London Borough Council in the early 1970s; she chaired Camden Borough Council's Social Services Committee at the age of 25. Elected as MP for Dulwich at the 1992 general election, Tessa Jowell was appointed as an Opposition Spokesperson on Health, an Opposition Whip and Spokesperson on Women, before returning to the Shadow Health team in 1996. She was appointed as Minister of State in the Department of Health after the 1997 Labour electoral success and appointed to the Privy Council in 1998. She moved, again as Minister of State, to the Department for Education and Employment in 1999 and was appointed Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport after the 2001 election.

In the 2012 Birthday Honours Tessa Jowell was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for political and charitable services, in particular for her contribution to delivering the London 2012 Olympics. Dame Tessa was subsequently elevated as a Life Peer to the House of Lords in the 2015 Dissolution Peerages List. She was also awarded the Freedom of the City of London. A visiting fellow at Nuffield College Oxford from 1991 to 2000, she is currently a Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics.

In October 2016 Dame Tessa will take up a senior teaching fellowship at Harvard; she currently sits on the Advisory Board for Harvard’s Ministerial Training Programme.

Lady Joan Catto LLB
Retired Solicitor

Lady Joan CattoJoan Catto graduated in Law from the University of Aberdeen in 1966. She subsequently became Deputy Procurator Fiscal at the Juvenile Court in Aberdeen. There she saw at first hand that the adversarial system was inappropriate for children and that the more investigative approach now adopted by the Children’s Panel system was required.

Her views on social policy and on the family were greatly influenced by her time at the Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Returning to Scotland, she recommenced legal practice and quickly became involved in difficult family law cases. Working as a 'Safeguarder', providing objective reports for Children’s Panel and Sheriff Court emphasised the importance of taking the views of the child into account when determining the most appropriate outcome for intractable family problems. She excelled in communicating the child’s point of view. As her reputation as a leader in the field of family law in Scotland developed, her support for disadvantaged children and young adults continued unabated.

Outside her legal practice she found time to support the University, serving on University court for two terms. She also served as Vice-chairman of Grampian Healthcare NHS Trust.

More recently she has also been a Trustee and Chairman of Voluntary Services Aberdeen and was commissioned as a Deputy Lieutenant for the City of Aberdeen in November, 2015.

Her many appointments and roles reflect the breadth of Joan Catto’s impact across various aspects of the local community, from civic and cultural involvement to service in health and education.