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The Council is the governing body of the Royal College of Art. The membership is made up principally of independent (non-College) members and includes a number of staff and students.
Chair and Pro-Chancellor, Sir Peter Bazalgette (from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2025)
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Paul Thompson (from 1 September 2009– )
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Professor Naren Barfield (from 1 August 2011–)
The Chief Financial Officer, Amanda White (from 1 November 2021–)
President of the Students' Union , Adriana Scalisi (from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2023)
Michael Birshan (from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2024)
Professor Hugh Brady (from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2025)
Professor Rachel Cooper OBE (1 April 2016 to 31 March 2025)
Jennifer Duvalier (from 1 May 2016 to 31 December 2023)
Mike Forster (from 1 March 2017 to 29 February 2023)
John Gibbs (from 23 November 2022 to 22 November 2025)
Dr Tristram Hunt (from 1 March 2017 to 29 February 2023)
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE (from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2025)
Alan Leibowitz (from 1 March 2015 to 30 November 2024)
Patrick Plant (from 1 May 2016 to 31 December 2023)
Dr Sigrid Rausing (1 April 2018 to 31 March 2024)
Sudhir Singh (15 June 2020 to 14 June 2023)
Fields Wicker-Miurin OBE (from 25 March 2021 to 31 December 2025)
Ed Williams (from 1 February 2016 to 31 January 2024)
Staff Members Appointed by the Senate
Kerry Curtis (from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2025)
Rama Gheerawo (from 30 October 2019 until 31 July 2025)
Professor Ken Neil (from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2025)
Dr Anne Toomey (from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2025)
Mary Pedicini, Vice-President of the Students' Union (from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2023)
College Secretary, Zioge Smith
Chief Operating Officer, Heather Akif
Governance Officer, Lucy Quarry
Council Statement of Primary Responsibilities
- To approve the mission and strategic vision of the College, the Strategic Plan (including long-term academic and business plans and key performance indicators), and to ensure that these meet the interests of stakeholders
- To ensure that processes are in place to monitor and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the College against the Strategic Plan and approved key performance indicators, which should be – where possible and appropriate – benchmarked against other comparable institutions
- To delegate authority to the Vice-Chancellor, as chief executive, for the academic, corporate, financial, estate and human resource management of the institution within the terms of the Strategic Plan and the budget as agreed by Council. And to establish and keep under regular review the policies, procedures and limits within such management functions as shall be undertaken by and under the authority of the Vice-Chancellor
- To ensure the establishment and monitoring of systems of control and accountability, including financial and operational controls and risk assessment and procedures for handling internal grievances and for managing conflicts of interest
- To establish processes to monitor and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the Council itself
- To conduct its business in accordance with best practice in HE corporate governance and with the principles of public life drawn up by the Committee on Standards in Public Life
- To safeguard and promote the good name and values of the College
- To appoint and to remove the Vice-Chancellor as chief executive, and to put in place suitable arrangements for monitoring his/her performance
- To appoint and to remove the Chancellor, the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, the Vice-Chair of Council, and other senior appointments as determined by Council currently and in the future
- To appoint and to remove a secretary to the Council and to ensure that, if the person appointed has managerial responsibilities in the institution, there is an appropriate separation in the lines of accountability
- To be the employing authority for all staff in the institution and to be responsible for oversight of the human resources strategy
- To be the principal financial and business authority of the College, to ensure compliance with the OfS Memorandum, that proper books of account are kept, to approve the annual budget and financial statements, and to have overall responsibility for the College’s assets, property and estate
- To be the College’s legal authority and, as such, to ensure that systems are in place for meeting all the College’s legal obligations, including those arising from contracts, legal commitments made in the College’s name and legal obligations in relation to charity law, equality and diversity and health and safety
- To receive assurance that adequate provision has been made to uphold the quality of the student experience
- To receive assurance that academic governance is effective
- To act as trustee for any property, legacy, endowment, bequest or gift in support of the work and welfare of the College
- To ensure that the Students’ Union operates in a fair, democratic, accountable and financially sustainable manner
- To ensure that the College’s Charter, Statues and Ordinances are followed at all times and that appropriate advice is available to enable this to happen.
Council approves the Financial Regulations Scheme of Financial Delegation, Gift Acceptance Policy, Strategic Plan, Five Year Financial Plan, Annual Accounts.
Frequency of Meetings
Four per year
As prescribed by the Statutes, a quorum at a meeting of the Council is one-third of the total number of members of which a majority of those present (in person or by virtual means) shall be Independent Members.
22 March 2023, 4–6.30pm
5 July 2023, 4–6.30pm
11 October 2023, 10am-3pm (Strategy Day)
22 November 2023, 4–6.30pm
20 March 2024, 4–6.30pm
10 July 2024, 4–6.30pm
Independent members' biographies
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council
Baz has spent a lifetime in television where he’s been a news journalist, a documentary maker, a creator of entertainment formats and an independent producer at Endemol. In 2012 he was knighted for services to broadcasting. He also served as President of the Royal Television Society and on the boards of DCMS and Channel 4. He took a lead on broadcasting policy which led him into championing the Creative Industries in general.
In the field of the arts, as well as his time at Arts Council England, Baz chaired a steam museum, English National Opera, and currently heads the non-fiction book prize, the Baillie Gifford. He’s also the author of The Empathy Instinct, which explores the positive role of the arts in society.
In terms of higher education, Baz is a non-executive at UKRI (UK Research & Innovation). He’s been working closely with the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as it develops its links with the creative industries. He also served as Deputy Chair of the National Film & TV School, another graduate college. More recently he’s become a founder member of SHAPE, the campaign promoting the value of arts & humanities. Peter is Hon Professor of the Creative Industries at Manchester University. Other trusteeships: none.
Michael Birshan is a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he advises and supports the leaders of private, public and social sector institutions on their management challenges. Michael leads the firm’s Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and previously managed McKinsey’s Governance Task Force to ensure the governance of the firm was fit for the future. Based in London, he has also lived and worked in San Francisco and Mumbai. Michael studied Philosophy, Politics & Economics at Balliol College, University of Oxford, and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Passionate about education, Michael has been a trustee of the World Schools’ Debating Championships, a governor of Brentford School for Girls, a commissioner of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission that stewards the Marshall Scholarships, and serves on the advisory board for King’s Business School. He is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Other trusteeships: none
Professor Rachel Cooper OBE
Professor Rachel Cooper is Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University and Director of ImaginationLancaster, where her research interests include design thinking, design management, design policy, design for wellbeing and socially responsible design. Publications include Designing Sustainable Cities, Constructing Futures and Handbook of Wellbeing and the Environment (Wiley Blackwell). She is also series editor of the Ashgate series Design for Social Responsibility covering topics such as designing for sustainability, inclusivity, service design, sport, health, transport and policy.
Professor Cooper is currently working on Liveable Cities, an Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded six-year research programme working to identify design and engineering solutions that will lead to low-carbon, resource-secure, future cities in which societal well-being is prioritised. Also The Creative Exchange, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Knowledge Exchange hub partnership with the Royal College of Art, looking at the growth of the creative industries through exploring the ‘digital public space’. She is also Co-Investigator of an AHRC project on Design Value in Innovation, co-Director of HighWire (Digital Economies Innovation Doctoral Training Centre), non-executive Director of the Future Cities Catapult and a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network. She has recently been a Lead Expert for the UK Government Foresight programme on the Future of Cities, and is on the Academy of Medical Sciences Working group addressing ‘the health of the public 2040’ and the 2014 Blackett review on the Internet of Things, founding and past president of the European Academy of Design, founding editor of The Design Journal, and a trustee of the Research and Development Management Association (RADMA). She was a member of the EU Design and Innovation Leadership Board, and has undertaken several other advisory roles to national and international universities, government and non-governmental organisations. Professor Cooper is a governor at Manchester High School for Girls. Other trusteeships: none.
Jennifer Duvalier is a non-executive director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee of Guardian Media Group plc, a non-executive director of Mitie and a trustee of Restless Development.
Until March 2017 Jennifer was Executive Vice-President of People at ARM Holdings, responsible for People and Internal Communications activity. Prior to that, she was Group People & Culture Director for six years at UBM plc, and Group Human Resources Director for international media and marketing services group Emap plc. Her earlier career was in management consultancy and banking. Other trusteeships: none.
Mike has extensive experience in the Airports and Aviation sector, particularly at BAA where sat on the Executive Committee and led the design of Terminal 5 and the third runway projects. He now leads Forster Associates, a consultancy advising organisations with large infrastructure developments on their strategy, master planning and project briefing. Mike is also a qualified architect and before BAA was a partner at Sheppard Robson, a large London practice. He is an Adjunct Professor at Imperial College, the Deputy Chairman of the British Aviation Group and a member of the Acumen 7 Business Leaders Network. Other trusteeships: none.
Dr Tristram Hunt
Dr Tristram Hunt became Director of the V&A in February 2017. Formerly the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central, he served as the Labour Party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education. He has a First Class degree in history from Trinity College, Cambridge (1995), and served as an Exchange Fellow at the University of Chicago (1996). Tristram has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, on ‘Civic Thought in Britain, 1820–1860’ (2000). In 1997, he became a Special Adviser to Science Minister Lord Sainsbury (1997–2000), Associate Fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, King’s College, Cambridge and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Between 2001–2010, Tristram combined his post as Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London, with work as a history broadcaster, presenting a range of radio and television programmes for the BBC and Channel 4. He is the author of several books, most recently Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014). He has lectured on British and international culture at the Centre for European Studies, University of California Berkeley; the Centre for European Studies, Harvard; Princeton University and the National University of Singapore. Tristram has served as a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the History of Parliament Trust. He played a key role in helping to save the Wedgwood Collection from dispersal and is President of the British Ceramics Biennial. Other trusteeships: Gilbert Trust, Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival.
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE
Anne-Marie was one of the youngest ever to be awarded a Master's degree in Mathematics & Computer Science by the University of Oxford, at age 20. In 2018 alone, she was listed among the top 50 women in tech in the world by Forbes, voted the fifth most influential woman in IT by Computer Weekly and was the recipient of the prestigious Barclays UK ‘Woman of the Year’ award.
2017 saw her featured among the top 50 most inspiring women in tech by Inspiring Fifty (an accolade she received for a second time in 2018). In recognition of her significant influence and achievements, Anne-Marie was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours for services to young women and STEM sectors. In June of the same year she was also made an Honorary Fellow at Keble College, Oxford.
Not only a champion of getting women into STEM positions, Anne-Marie has previously worked with Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers, amassing a wealth of experience. She is also a recognised thought-leader in the tech space, regularly appearing in the media as a talking head, and giving talks at tech giants such as SXSW and Founders Forum. Other trusteeships: Urban Development Music Foundation, The Institute for the Future of Work.
Alan Leibowitz is Joint Managing Director of Dorrington Plc, a long established property investment and development company active in both the commercial and residential sectors, mainly in London. Alan is an executive director of Hanover Acceptances Limited, Dorrington's parent company, and sits on the boards of other Hanover companies. Alan is a director of the British Property Federation; of JW3, the Jewish Community Centre, and a non-executive director of Alta Advisors Limited. He was a Trustee of The Architectural Association Foundation for many years and was previously the Chair of Trustees of SPACE, the fine arts charity. He is a member of the London Advisory Committee of Historic England, was a long-standing member of CABE's Design Review Panel and has been a member of the property committees of the National Theatre and the Wiener Library, advising on their redevelopment projects. Other trusteeships: The Wigmore Hall Trust.
Patrick Plant is a commercial real estate lawyer with 30 years experience with the global law firm, Linklaters. Patrick is now a partner consultant with Linklaters, having previously served eight years as its Global Head of Real Estate. Patrick has been a Board Member of the British Library since May 2012. He is a trustee of The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and was previously a non-Executive Director of Falcon Property Trust. Patrick is also an Honorary Lecturer in Law with the Faculty of Humanities of Manchester University, from where he graduated in 1983. Other trusteeships: none.
Dr Sigrid Rausing
Sigrid Rausing is the Publisher of Granta Publications and the Editor of Granta Magazine. She has a PhD in Social Anthropology from University College London, and her first book, History, Memory and Identity in Post Soviet Estonia: the End of a Collective Farm, was published in 2004 by Oxford University Press. In 2015 her second book, Everything is Wonderful, was short-listed for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. Her third book, Mayhem, was published in 2017, and is forthcoming in a number of translations. It was short-listed for the Wellcome Prize in spring 2018.
In 2004 Rausing was the joint winner of the International Service Human Rights Award, in the Global Human Rights Defender category. In 2005 she won a Beacon Special Award for philanthropy. In 2006 she was awarded the Women’s Funding Network's ‘Changing the Face of Philanthropy’ Award. She is an Emeritus member of the International Board of Human Rights Watch, and of the Advisory Board of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and has served on numerous other boards including Charleston, the museum home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and Sevenoaks School, where she was Governor. She was a member of the Cultural Council of Lund University, and is an Ambassador Council member of the Scholars at Risk Network. Rausing has received Honorary Doctorates from the Open University, and the University of Kent for services to publishing and human rights, and was honoured with the Morrell Fellowship from the University of York. She is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and of St Antony's College, Oxford. Other Trusteeships: Chair of Granta Publications and SRT, a grant-giving trust.
Sudhir Singh is currently the Head of Not for Profit and an audit partner for the Chartered Accountants MHA MacIntyre Hudson. He is a recognised expert in not for profit accounting, finance, governance, law and regulation. His experience includes working with charities, independent schools, academies, free schools, further and higher education establishments, and other not for profit organisations. Sudhir has advised complex and high profile organisations and acted for more than 25 top 250 registered charities, using his extensive knowledge to provide practical solutions. His personal sector commitment in a voluntary capacity also extends over 25 years in trustee, school governor, vice-chairman, treasurer and audit/finance committee roles.
Fields Wicker-Miurin OBE, Deputy Chair of Council and Chair of Planning & Resources Committee
Fields is Deputy Chair of Council and Chair of the College’s Planning & Resources Committee. She is currently also a non-executive director of BNP Paribas and of Scor (the world’s fourth largest reinsurance company) where she chairs the Remuneration Committee.
Fields believes in the power of the arts, culture and the creative sectors to enrich society and communities. Over the years, she has served as a trustee of Arts & Business, LIFT, Tate Members and London Musici. Her commitment to education brought her to join the Council of King’s College London, where she served for 9 years as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) and as a member of the Chairman’s Committee. Fields has also worked extensively in the public sector; she served on the ministerial boards of the DTI, the Ministry of Justice, and most recently the DCMS, where she was Chair of the ARC and chaired two government reviews of arts bodies.
In addition to her work in the arts, higher education and the public sector, Fields had her main career in financial services, including a pivotal time as Chief Financial Officer and Strategy Director of the London Stock Exchange where she led the transformation of the London equity markets. Following her executive career, for the last 25 years Fields has served as a non-executive director on the boards of global companies based in the UK, France, Sweden and India. Her deep interest in leadership and in being ‘a good ancestor’ led her to co-found Leaders’ Quest, a social enterprise focused on addressing the biggest issues facing the planet and leaders in the 21st century. She has worked extensively all over the world, from China and Russia, to India, South Africa and Brazil. Other trusteeships: none
Ed Williams is CEO of Edelman UK and Ireland, the largest communications consultancy in the UK with over 500 staff. He joined the firm in late 2011 from the BBC where he had been Director of Communications since the beginning of 2008 and a member of the BBC’s management board. At the BBC he led the group communications division and acted as a senior adviser to the Director-General, Mark Thompson.
Prior to the BBC, Williams was Group Director of Communications at Reuters working to the CEO, Tom Glocer. He was an adviser to Glocer during the Thomson-Reuters transaction. He spent five years at financial public relations firm, Brunswick, specialising in corporate advisory work and campaigns. During that time he also worked on a number of public affairs projects including advising General Wesley Clark during his evidence giving in the Milosevic trial in the Hague and acting as a pro bono adviser to the International Crisis Group and other NGOs.
Ed started his career in journalism, including five years in network television at GMTV where he was News Editor. He has also worked as a national newspaper reporter. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Programme (AMP 180). Ed is a Board Member of the PRCA, a trustee of the Woolf Institute at Cambridge a member of the Arthur Page Society and serves on the international advisory council of the International Crisis Group. Other trusteeships: none.