Mr Sheppard is the Executive Chairman of leading commercial law firm Thrings, having previously held the position of Managing Partner for ten years. A solicitor since 1977 and a Partner of the firm since 1980, he has also served on the University’s Council since 2008.

He will take on the position as Chair of Council on 1 August 2014 for a three-year period, and will replace Peter Troughton who has fulfilled the role with distinction for more than eight years.

Mr Sheppard said: “I have a personal and professional association with the city of Bath which spans almost 40 years. During this time, I have seen the University enhance its reputation for academia, research and sporting excellence, and consistently attract the best students from around the world. I am honoured to be taking on the role of Chair of Council at one of the UK’s leading universities.

“I am also very pleased to have the opportunity to continue working with the Council and the University’s stakeholders, and building on the solid foundations which have been put in place in recent years. As Chair of the University’s governing body, my focus will be on ensuring the Council retains responsibility for the conduct of the University, upholds its traditions and acts in its best interests at all times.”

Throughout his career, Mr Sheppard has supported a number of prominent charitable and public organisations in Bath in the capacity as trustee or non-executive director. This includes Dorothy House Hospice Care, Bath Preservation Trust, Bath RUH, Bath Festival Trust and RICE, as well as the Arnolfini arts centre and gallery in Bristol. He was also a Director of the Board which took Bath Rugby from amateur to professional status.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice-Chancellor, said of the appointment: “We are delighted Thomas has agreed to take on such a vital role at the University. As the Executive Chairman of a leading commercial law firm, he understands the opportunities and challenges we face nationally and internationally, and as a Bath resident he knows very well the importance of our relationship in the city and the wider community.

“His leadership of Council will be vital as we head towards our 50th anniversary in 2016. In looking to the future we also need to pay tribute to the excellent job our current Chair Peter Troughton has done over the past eight years. A period of notable success and growth for the University, Peter can take great pride in the role he has played in our development. He was appointed as Pro-Chancellor last year and so will continue to be involved with the University.”

The Council is the governing body of the University. It is ultimately responsible for the mission and strategy of the University, monitoring institutional performance and oversight of the University's finances, estates and buildings.

Council is subject to the statutory powers of Senate with respect to academic matters, and has a general responsibility for the conduct of all the University's affairs.