Following the appointment of Pam Chesters as the new Chair of Council, I am writing in my role as acting Chair and Chair of the Council Effectiveness Steering Group to provide an update on the group’s work to date and to take the opportunity to thank colleagues for their continuing contribution to these important discussions about our future governance arrangements.

The Council Effectiveness Review, undertaken by the Halpin Partnership, established the following regarding governance at the University of Bath.

to go beyond compliance and work to ensure that Bath demonstrates good or best practice in University governance. This would include promoting a culture with a presumption in favour of disclosure, openness, transparency, consultation, communication, delegation, scrutiny and accountability.

The Council of the University, having accepted all of the recommendations of the Halpin Review, has already decided to make a number of changes for example regarding the size of Council, and the operation of the Remuneration Committee. Further information on the work of the Steering Group is available here.

Transforming strategic governance is an ongoing programme, reaching beyond these high-level committees and the Halpin Review recommended a new role of Head of Governance to provide the dedicated capacity to drive this programme forward. Council have agreed to appoint a new Head of Strategic Governance who will report to the Chair of Council. Recruitment to this new role is underway but is likely to take a number of months.

To prepare the ground for the new role, Dr Steve Wharton has agreed to do some consultancy work regarding the future for governance at the University while we undertake the recruitment of the role of Head of Strategic Governance. Dr Wharton, who has previously served on Senate, Council and as Chair of Academic Assembly, will report to both the Chair of Council and the Vice-Chancellor. He will work alongside those who are currently operationally responsible for Strategic and Executive Governance (including the Office of the University Secretary).

Steve has been asked to establish an understanding of the governance processes across the University and the key stakeholders and decision-making bodies within those processes, draw parallels with other institutions (either in the HE sector or outside) to absorb good and emerging practice and identify options for changes to governance procedures, assessing the risk, opportunity and challenge of change. He will do this in alignment with the principles identified by Halpin and if early opportunities are presented, work with the existing University governance teams, under the guidance of the Chair of Council, to implement changes.

I am grateful to Dr Wharton for undertaking this consultancy work.

Ruth Foreman,
Acting Chair of Council