The Governing Council consists of at least 15 and no more than 24 members, of whom a majority shall be independent and shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

Register of Interests and Related Parties

The Governance Office compiles and maintains a register of interests and related parties for Directors and members of the Governing Council. This is reviewed on a quarterly basis. View the up-to-date Register of Interests.

Current membership

Dr Sally Akehurst BA (Hons) MSc PhD FHEA

Sally Akehurst

Dr Sally Akehurst is an Academic Board Representative on Governing Council and is the Head of School of Human Sciences in the College of Science and Engineering. Sally joined the University as a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2010; was appointed Head of Discipline for Sport in 2012, and led the area through significant growth over a period of four years. In 2016, Sally became the Head of Department for Life Sciences and College Lead for Learning and Teaching and Student Experience. As Head of School of Human Sciences, Sally now leads a vibrant academic community spanning biomedical and forensic science, and sport, outdoor and exercise science, and drives the school to be one that is highly committed to delivering excellence in all areas of academic, research and innovation.

Previously, Sally studied Leisure and Sport Studies as an undergraduate at the University of Brighton, before specialising in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Masters and Doctorate levels at the University of Wales, Bangor (2000-2015). As a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Aberystwyth University (2005-2010), Sally became an Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist practising applied sport psychology with athletes and coaches. As a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2006, Sally has dedicated her career to developing and enhancing the academic provision and experience of students in higher education within sport science, and more recently across the breadth of sciences, constantly striving for brilliance within her school. 

Corey Beck BA

Corey Beck, governor

Corey serves as a Student Representative Governor, having been elected President of the Union of Students for the academic year 2020/21 after completion of his degree in Special Educational Needs and Disability. While a student at the University, Corey held positions as a Programme Representative, Part Time Officer (Disability) and as a Student Trustee of the Union of Students.

Corey was able to dual-career as a Student Athlete on the sports scholarship programme, allowing him to both study and compete at an international level. He is passionate about opportunities for all students, communications and student safety.

Sue Bennett BA FCIPD

Sue Bennett, governor co-optee

Sue was appointed as an independent member of Governing Council in February 2020. She had been co-opted to Governing Council to join the University’s Student Affairs Committee in April 2019, which she now co-chairs. Sue is also the Governing Council member of the University Court Advisory Group. She has held a number of senior leadership roles in higher education, most recently as Director of Student Careers and Skills at the University of Warwick. Prior to that Sue was Director of the Learning and Development Centre at that university.

Between 2015 and 2018 Sue also held the roles of Vice President, Trustee and Board Member of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), a membership organisation for higher education students’ career development and graduate employment professionals.

Sue left the University of Warwick in 2018 to pursue a portfolio career.

Simon Bolton, Chair of Audit and Risk Committee

Simon Bolton, governor

Simon was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2019. He is currently Interim Chief Executive Officer at NHS Digital. NHS Digital supplies information and data to the health service, provides vital technological infrastructure for the NHS, and helps different parts of health and care work together.

Prior to joining NHS Digital, Simon was the Chief Information Officer at NHS Test & Trace, and has held a number of executive technology leadership roles at companies including Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce plc.

Simon is also on the Board of Tech Partnership Degrees, an employer-led and not for profit organisation that unites employers and universities to improve the flow of talent into the digital workforce.

Neil Calvert BSc (Hons) NPQH, Vice-Chair of Governing Council & Chair of Remuneration Committee

Neil Calvert

Neil Calvert has been an independent member of Governing Council since 2011. He chairs the Remuneration Committee and became the Vice-Chair of Governing Council in 2015.

Neil was appointed as CEO and Principal of the Co-operative College in July 2021. He is a Trustee of The Northworthy Trust, having previously been its Chief Executive until 2021. This Multi-Academy Trust operates secondary schools in Derby and Derbyshire and also works extensively in initial teacher training with universities in the UK and overseas. He was Headteacher at The Long Eaton School from 2008 to 2016, an 11-18 institution of 1,200 students which was one of the first in Derbyshire to convert to Academy status, and took on the additional role of Executive Headteacher at King Edward VI School in Lichfield in 2014 to support the school through a change in leadership and a successful Ofsted inspection.

Neil is an employer representative on the Derbyshire LGPS Pension Board. He has held non-executive posts in several national not-for-profit organisations, and is currently a Trustee of the DHL UK Foundation which supports education and employability programmes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2013 he gave evidence in Parliament to a Commons Education Select Committee inquiry into the role of governing bodies in schools.

Andrew Chatten MBA

Andrew Chatten, governor

Andrew was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2019. He is Director of Estates and Facilities Management at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and an advisor to the Trust Board. He has been in post for four years previously having held the same position at the University Hospitals of Leicester. Andrew is a Chartered Builder, a Member of the British Institute of Facilities Management and has an MBA from Sheffield Hallam University.

In a career spanning 27 years, Andrew has worked in a number of NHS Trusts delivering estates and facilities services but also for John Laing’s as Chief Officer of Southern Derbyshire Local Investment Finance Trust and with Compass Group UK and Ireland as an Operations Director. He has a depth of experience in delivering support services and longer term estate master planning.

Nina Cupric BA

Nina Cupric, governor

Nina is a Student Representative Governor, having been elected Vice President (Education) of the Union of Students for the academic year 2020/21. She completed her undergraduate degree in Fine Art in 2020. During her time as a student, Nina was heavily involved with the Union of Students, first as a Programme Representative and then as the Part Time Officer (Arts and Media).

She is passionate about creating inclusive and vibrant communities that support growth and development. Her key aims this year are sustainability and employability across the union and University.

Olivia Dean BA Dip Ed Management, Chair of Skills Committee

Olivia Dean

Olivia Dean is an Independent Member of Governing Council and Chair of the Skills Committee. Olivia was Strategic Director at the Joseph Wright Centre and Clerk to the Corporation at Derby College from 2004 until her retirement in 2006. During 2006-7 she served as Acting Assistant Dean and Head of Further Education at the University of Derby Buxton.

Olivia gained a Teacher's Certificate at Homerton College of Education, Cambridge before taking a BA degree with the Open University and a Diploma in Education Management at Derbyshire College of Higher Education. She taught at local schools and held senior management positions in two secondary comprehensives between 1968 and 1989 before taking a series of Assistant Principal posts at Derby Tertiary College, Wilmorton.

In 1997 she became Clerk to the Corporation of Derby College and was also employed by Derby PRIDE Limited and Derby City Council. Olivia was a member of the Derbyshire Learning and Skills Council from 2001 to 2005 and has served as a representative on two national examination boards. Olivia has also worked for the voluntary sector as a board member, previously for Community Education and Training Association and the Padley Group and currently for the Royal Crown Derby Museum Trust. Additionally, until September 2020, she was a governor of an inner city primary school in Derby.

James Eaglesfield

James Eaglesfield

James Eaglesfield is the non-teaching staff governor on the University’s Governing Council. He is the University’s head of governance and IT Portfolio within the IT department of the University of Derby. Since joining the University in 1998 he has held a series of roles within IT Services. He is currently responsible for information security, data protection, freedom of information and IT project management within the University. Prior to joining the University, James trained at the Queens Medical Centre to become an Audiology Technician. His outside interests include walking, photography and cycling and he regularly rides the infamous Paris – Roubaix cycle sportif.

Tony Edwards BA ACA

Tony Edwards, governor

Tony was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2019. He is Vice President & General Manager of the aluminium gas cylinder business unit of Luxfer Holdings plc, headquartered in the East Midlands. Prior to joining Luxfer, Tony spent two years as Corporate Development Director for Renold plc and 15 years as a Managing Director in international B2B manufacturing groups headquartered in the East Midlands.

Tony is a chartered accountant, having qualified whilst at Price Waterhouse, then spending 14 years in a variety of increasingly senior group, divisional and operational financial roles with Rio Tinto plc, Norcros plc and the Filtrona division of Bunzl plc. Tony has a degree in Accounting & Finance from Nottingham Trent University and served as a Governor there for 11 years up to July 2016.

Gill Howland BEd (Hons) MEd FRSA, Vice-Chair of Skills Committee

Gill Howland

Gill was appointed as an Independent member of Governing Council in October 2015, having previously been a Co-opted member of the University’s Further Education Governance Committee of Buxton and Leek College.

Gill has extensive experience across a wide range of educational leadership roles. After beginning her career in industry, she moved onto teaching and leadership positions in schools and in further and higher education, focussing particularly on post 14 education and co directing a three year project on 14-19 progression. She was a member of the Government's Advisory Board on 14-19 education, and led the conception and development of the first 14-19 collegiate in the country.

Her senior leadership positions have included Local Authority Chief Education Adviser, Executive Director of Learning and Skills Councils in Stoke and Staffordshire, and Birmingham and Solihull, and Executive Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Staffordshire University.

From 2016-2018 Gill was Chair of the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society. She recently retired as Chair of Governors of one of the most improved academies nationally, and she is currently Vice-Chair of a Derbyshire primary school. Gill was previously Deputy Chair of CILT, the National Centre for Languages, Deputy Chair of YMCA Training and Board Member of North Staffordshire YMCA. She has chaired a number of regional and sub regional collaborations focussing on regeneration through education.

Throughout her career Gill has championed education as the key means of opening opportunities to people. She has always chosen to work in disadvantaged areas and has a track record in educational improvement and widening opportunities.

Dr Ruth Larsen

Dr Ruth Larsen - governor

Ruth was appointed to Governing Council as teaching staff governor in April 2021. Since joining the University of Derby in 2005, she has held a series of roles within the department of Humanities. She is currently a senior lecturer in History and the programme leader for the undergraduate History programmes. Ruth teaches a number of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level, covering a wide range of topics, including the history of the body, material culture studies and research methodologies. Her research expertise is in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British history and she has published widely on gender history, the history of the aristocracy and the country house.

Ruth is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Royal Historical Society and is part of the editorial board for the journal Midland History. She is committed to excellence in learning and teaching and was named the University Lecturer of the Year in 2010; she is especially dedicated in supporting undergraduate students to develop their distinct academic voice, in pedagogies of engagement, and championing students as co-creators. Between 2016 and 2021 she was a governor at a primary school in Derby and is an active member of the East Midlands Centre for History Learning and Teaching.

Gordon McKenzie BA (Hons)

Gordon McKenzie, governor

Gordon was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2019. He has been Chief Executive Officer of GuildHE since 2015, a key representative and advocacy body in the higher education sector.

He joined GuildHE following a career in the Civil Service, most recently as Deputy Director for HE Strategy and Policy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Gordon has led the implementation of the Browne review on higher education funding and successive government spending reviews. He has also worked with a range of ministers on innovative policies including tackling an increase in graduate unemployment and encouraging the growth of a more competitive sector.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL BSc PhD CPsychol

Kath Mitchell

Professor Kathryn Mitchell is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Derby.

Prior to joining the University in September 2015 she was Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of West London with special responsibility for academic provision and quality across the University.  She has also held senior positions of Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic and Student Support Services and Dean of Students at West London.

Professor Mitchell was a Wellcome Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, London and has studied at the Universities of York and London.  She has worked at the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute, New York and the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel.

Kath is a chartered Psychologist and played an active role within the Institute for Practice and Interdisciplinary Research (INSPIRE), supervising and directing a range of research programmes.

In April 2019, Kath was appointed one of five new Deputy Lieutenants of Derbyshire.

She is married with two children.

Louise Pigden BSc MRes SFHEA

Louise Pigden

Louise is the Academic Board representative on the Governing Council. She is the Deputy Dean of the College of Science and Engineering.

Louise studied Physics as an undergraduate at the University of Warwick, and as a postgraduate at the University of Leeds. She has held varied senior academic leadership and management roles that have provided a broad insight into higher education from differing perspectives. She was Principal Lecturer managing the Leeds Beckett University’s network of further education colleges; Head of Division of Digital Media and Entertainment Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University, having departmental responsibility for third stream income generation, enterprise and student employability; Assistant Registrar - Assessment, Awards and Regulations at Sheffield Hallam University, having wide-ranging responsibilities that directly impacted on the student experience.  At Derby she was initially Head of Joint Honours, a role that afforded a unique insight into the academic student experience across all colleges of the University.

Louise’s research interests have spanned computational physics with a focus on hyperbranched polymers, through to the pedagogy of web programming, and more recently the experience and employability of joint honours students. Louise is currently completing a PhD by published works.

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Robinson

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Robinson

Peter was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in April 2021 and is the Church of England nominee. He is Dean of Derby and moved to the city in 2020. Based at Derby Cathedral which he leads, Peter is a member of the Bishop of Derby’s senior staff team. Previously Peter served in suburban North Tyneside, the inner city of Newcastle upon Tyne and in Northumberland where from 2008 he held the post of Archdeacon of Lindisfarne, leading the Newcastle Diocesan Strategy for the rural church.

Peter is leading Derby Cathedral to engage with the communities of both Derby City and the County of Derbyshire by developing the Cathedral’s arts, culture and heritage offer alongside its existing choral excellence. Peter is committed to partnership working: he is the independent chair of the Derby City Poverty Commission and a member of the City’s Stronger Communities Board. He is developing strategic relationships with the faith sector across Derby and Derbyshire, and working closely with the Multi-Faith Centre which is based in the University. His educational interests include overseeing the Cathedral’s relationship with Derby Cathedral School. Peter holds a doctorate in Divinity from Durham University and is an experienced contributor to theological education and training within the church, both as a theological educator and as a leader of governance.

Hilary Stables FCIPD

Hilary Stables, governor co-optee

Hilary was appointed as an independent member of Governing Council in February 2020. She had been co-opted to Governing Council to join the University’s Strategy, Finance and Planning Committee in April 2019. She has held a number of senior leadership roles in a variety of industries including retail, communications, and healthcare services. She is currently Chief People Officer for NHS Property Services Ltd. 

Prior to joining NHS Property Services as HR Director, Hilary held the role of HR, Talent and Communications Director at McKesson UK, part of the McKesson Company which owns brands including Lloyds Pharmacy and AAH Pharmaceuticals. She joined McKesson in 2015 from BT Facilities Services, where she was HR Director. Earlier in her career, Hilary spent 15 years in a variety of increasingly senior HR positions at Asda Wal-Mart UK.

Stephen Smith BA FIOD, Chair of Governing Council

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith has been an Independent Member of Governing Council since 2014 and was previously Chair of the Strategy, Finance and Planning Committee. He took the role of Pro Chancellor and Chair of Governing Council in August 2018.

Stephen is Chief Executive and founder of EMB Group, a leading, business services, risk management, cyber security and ISO certification company, trading across the UK and internationally. 

His earlier career was in brand marketing with multinational corporations followed by general management roles in the greeting cards and logistics sectors, the latter as Managing Director of a high growth £134m pharmaceutical distribution business. Stephen also has significant experience as a non-executive director on a number of different bodies, in both the public and private sectors.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (IOD) and an IOD Director of the Year category winner on two occasions, whilst EMB Group have been an Amazon Growing Business Awards finalist and recognised by the London Stock Exchange as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire.  He is also a member of the CBI Regional Council, advising government on business policy issues.

Stephen Taylor BMus FCA, Chair of Strategy, Finance and Planning Committee

Stephen Taylor

Stephen has a 30 year career helping companies across Europe and beyond, first with PwC and later with AlixPartners. He led the Continental European restructuring practice of the former and was a senior Managing Director at the second. He now runs his own advisory firm

Best known for his work on complex western European restructurings, Stephen’s roles have encompassed board roles on several high profile cases. He was chairman of the restructuring committee at SAAB Automobile in Sweden, Chief Restructuring Officer of Vion Food Group in the Netherlands and Chairman of Southern Cross Healthcare in UK.

Stephen is also an advisor to various governments and has been a guest lecturer at several European Universities.

Educated in Derbyshire and living in the county for many years, Stephen is a Chartered Accountant and also holds a degree in Music.

John Yarham

John Yarham, governor

John was appointed as an Independent Member of Governing Council in May 2021. He is Deputy Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, the Government’s body for careers education in England.

John’s career in the skills sector over the last 25 years has been largely driven by his passion for promoting social mobility and providing excellent standards for careers guidance and opportunities for young people and adults. Throughout his career he has gained extensive knowledge of the Government’s skills agenda. As Director of Economic Development at Nottingham City Council (2011-13), he led on the Nottingham Growth Plan and secured £60m of Government funding to support business growth and skills activity in the city. He was involved in the creation of the D2N2 LEP. During his time as the CEO (2013-19) of the skills-based social enterprise Futures the organisation received an Outstanding grade from Ofsted for their delivery of the National Careers Service as well as growing new Apprenticeship provision.

John has been the Deputy CEO at The Careers and Enterprise Company since 2019 but spent the majority of his time there as the Interim CEO, becoming a member of the DfE’s Skills for Jobs Stakeholder Group and leading on Covid-19 initiatives such as providing 120,000 young people with the opportunity to gain remote work experience with significant employers across the UK during lockdown.

Co-opted members

Elizabeth Brownell BA FCA

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Elizabeth was appointed as a co-opted member of the Audit and Risk Committee in July 2020.

After graduating from Nottingham University, where she studied for a BA in History, Elizabeth joined Deloitte to train to be a Chartered Accountant and progressed to Audit Manager. During this time, she was part of the Higher Education Audit team and undertook a number of university audits.

Elizabeth is currently Finance Director working for Capita Plc within the Government Services division. She has had a wide range of experience within Capita and is currently responsible for a portfolio of businesses with specific focus on the Education Sector, Digital Products and Joint Ventures.

Gary Burmiston BSc ACMA DMS

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Gary was appointed as a co-opted member of the Audit and Risk Committee in April 2020.

After graduating from the University of Hull, Gary qualified as a Charter Management Accountant. He has held senior positions in a number of large blue chip companies including British Gas, Sun Life Assurance, Bass Brewers, Capital One and currently works for E.ON. During his career he has developed expertise in financial management, cost control and has led a number of major transformation programmes. Five years ago Gary joined the E.ON audit department where he is now responsible for the audit teams and all audit activity in ten European countries.

Gary also serves on a number of pension boards as both a trustee to one scheme and as an invited member of the Audit Committee on another scheme.

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