University of Derby confirms Alumni Board appointments

12 February 2020

A criminal barrister, an educationalist and two local entrepreneurs have been appointed as founding members of the University of Derby’s new Alumni and Membership Advisory Board, chaired by author, public speaker and University honorand Richard Gerver.

The role of the board is to strengthen links between the University and its alumni – former students – and to generate support across the globe for the work of the University, its student body and its staff.

Well known TV personality Baasit Siddiqui studied Business and Information Systems at the University and went on to become an IT and Business teacher in schools, following a career in the NHS. 

He now runs Siddiqui Education, providing educational workshops and competitions to schools and other educational institutions across the UK.

His work to date with the University includes projects through the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Collaborative Outreach Project (DANCOP), which works to raise aspirations of young people and inform them about their options to progress to higher education.

On his appointment to the board, Baasit Siddiqui said: “It was an absolute honour to be asked to be a part of the board. I’ve lived in Derby all my life and feel very lucky to be working with a group of people so passionate about celebrating the rich history of the University and the city, while looking at ways to engage with alumni from years ago to the present day.

“I feel that my links to education, media and business give me a unique way to engage with alumni past, present and future. The University has supported me in raising my business’s profile and I feel in some ways I am already championing the fantastic work being done. For me, being on this board feels like a natural fit between my work and the goals of the University.”

Joining him is criminal barrister Jeanette Stevenson, who, after winning a scholarship competition run by the University and the Derby Telegraph in 2008, successfully managed to study for a Law and Criminology degree while raising her young children.

In addition to her successful career, working on many high-profile criminal cases and lecturing at the University, Jeanette assists her partner Richard in running Derby business ‘AspireCRM’, which has provided employment and internships to Derby graduates.

Jeanette said: “I was absolutely delighted to be invited to join the new board at the University. If it hadn't been for the University putting their faith in me back in 2008 to study for free, I'd never have achieved what I have. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to give something back and excited to see what input I can make.”

William Barron studied at the University’s Kedleston Road site, formerly the Derby and Derbyshire School of Art and Technology, as a Rolls-Royce apprentice in the 1960s. He went on to become a successful entrepreneur and has retained his connection with the University as a member of the University Court, a forum for discussing the University’s strategic objectives, for the past quarter of a century.

Software engineer and real-time animation pioneer Brett Butcher studied at Derby in the 1970s and is currently an entrepreneur in residence at the University. He has been a University Court member for 25 years and established the University’s Network of Entrepreneurs in 2013.

Richard Gerver, chair of the board, said: “I am very proud to lead such a distinguished and influential group to create a strong and lasting relationship with as many of the University’s alumni as we can, wherever they are in the world.

“Each of the board members has an excellent story to tell of their time studying at the University of Derby and how they have gone on to achieve life and career goals, as well as to use their knowledge and skills to inspire and help others.”

Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “I believe that the University’s first Alumni and Membership Advisory Board has a strong and engaged group of people to help drive forward our ambitions for Derby. Each of them has enjoyed a successful career in their chosen field and, crucially, each has retained a strong affinity with the University.

“Our alumni community is an exciting part of the University’s future and the creation of the board is a big step forward. I am confident that the members of the board will inspire others who studied and graduated at Derby to get involved in supporting and driving forward the development of the University over the next decade and beyond.”

To find out more about the University of Derby Alumni community, visit

For further information contact the press office at