GCU welcomes new governors

Fri, 11 Sep 2020 14:12:00 BST
The six governors will help oversee the University’s activities
The six governors will help oversee the University’s activities

The University's governing body, Court, has welcomed six new governors

The six governors, drawn from University staff, the Students' Association and public life, will join Court members in overseeing the University’s activities and providing strategic input. Court membership is drawn from the University’s external and internal communities, and includes lay members (who must form the majority), academic, professional and support services staff, Students’ Association officers and the Principal. Some governors are also GCU alumni. Governors are strongly motivated by the University’s mission and vision and share the commitment to the Common Good.

- Susan Docherty (student governor)

Student President Susan Docherty was elected to lead GCU Students' Association in May and was appointed to the role on June 1. Alongside the Association's other full-time officers, Susan is this year focusing on mental health and fostering a sense of community across the University despite the challenges of COVID-19. She believes that it is essential, this year more than ever, to ensure that students do not experience isolation and are offered exciting and innovative ways to socialise and engage and boost their wellbeing.

Susan is keen to build on her positive partnership with the University and ensure that the student voice is heard across a GCU community where everyone, working as partners, delivers excellence in learning and an outstanding student experience. Susan is a former Students' Association Vice President for the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment. In 2019-20, she helped the school achieve a 10 per cent increase in positive NSS results on the previous academic year. As Vice President for the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, Susan successfully campaigned for a mature students space on campus and created a quiet area in the Students' Association base to help support her work on the Student Mental Health Agreement.

- Ellen Gibson (professional and support staff TU-nominated governor)

Ellen Gibson has been a careers adviser at GCU for more than 15 years and has a wealth of experience delivering careers guidance to university and college students, school pupils and adults. A member of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and of the Career Development Institute, before qualifying as a careers adviser Ellen worked in Human Resources and taught English as a second language. Ellen is committed to the trades union movement.

A member of GCU's Unison branch, which she chaired for five years, she is active in Unison's activities across Scottish and the UK. She has held offices including Co-Chair of Unison Scotland's Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) and Vice Chaired the HESGE Conference Standing Orders Committee. She has served on the Standing Orders Committee for the Unison National Women’s Conference and been GCU branch representative at Unison Scottish Council. Ellen has participated in national conferences, helping shape key policy. Passionate about equality and diversity, Ellen is a GCU Equality Champion, has been a GCU Unison Branch Equalities Officer and has led key equality initiatives for GCU Careers Service. As the first professional and support Trade Union-nominated governor, Ellen brings to the role her extensive experience of working with staff across GCU and the sector gained in trade union and careers adviser roles.

- Bill McDonald (lay governor)

A GCU alumnus, Bill McDonald was inspired to join the board by our role as the university for the Common Good. Recently retired as Country Managing Director at Accenture, Scotland, after 21 years specialising in business process outsourcing, Bill's career as an accountant led him to sectors including telecommunications, oil and gas, logistics and media and entertainment, supporting corporations by designing and leading transformational change underpinned by outsourcing.

Bill began his career in defence avionics before moving into energy with the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board (now SSE), where he was part of a team leading its energy privatisation initiative. Bill joined Accenture in 1998, working across more than 30 countries including three years in Russia. He became Country Managing Director, Scotland, in 2008 and oversaw significant growth of Accenture's business in oil and gas and financial services and the opening of its Edinburgh HQ. An experienced Non-Executive Director, Bill is Chair of Young Enterprise Scotland and a Board member at Museums and Galleries Scotland. Since retiring from Accenture, Bill has been working as an independent advisor to a number of boards.

- Dr Nick McKerrell (academic staff TU nominated governor)

Dr Nick McKerrell is a Senior Lecturer in Law at GCU. He has worked at the University for 24 years, receiving his Phd in Public Law from the University of Glasgow in 1998, and is GCU's first academic trade union nominated member of Court. Nick’s teaching focuses on Public Law, Human Rights and Civil Liberties and he is committed to using legal structures to hold public authorities to account. He works closely with first-year LLB students, introducing them to Scots law and the legal system. He regularly appears on radio and TV as a commentator on live legal issues impacting Scotland and has written columns for the print and online media and has been published on legal research skills for students at all levels.

Nick was recently appointed editor of the housing law section of the annotated version of the publication, Scottish Social Work Legislation. Nick has been a trade union representative throughout his career, holding positions in EIS/University Lecturers’ Association at local and national levels including Vice President and President, and he was part of UK negotiations on HE pay. Nick has represented members locally and helped shape a number of University policies alongside the University Executive, including the Framework Agreement implementing a single pay spine. Nick is a member of the Combined Union Committee representing all unions at GCU and is a board member of the Glasgow human rights film festival Document.

- Tabitha Nyariki (student governor)

After a year of representing students as the Students' Association's Deputy International Students’ Officer, Tabitha Nyariki was elected Vice President for the School of Health and Life Sciences 2020/21 in May, taking up her role on June 1. Tabitha has been actively involved in championing anti-racism at the University, leading campaigns such as Show Racism the Red Card in collaboration with the Students’ Association's Sports Council. She has also been part of University-led working groups focusing on tackling the black attainment gap and is a champion for equality and equal representation of students across the University.

Tabitha was part of a student-led initiative to transform the Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ group into the Ethnic Diversity Network to ensure equal representation of all minority ethnic groups in the GCU community. Tabitha has a Bachelor of Science Degree with honours in Applied Psychology and hopes to continue her education by pursuing a Masters in Cyber-Psychology.

Austin Sweeney (lay governor)

- Austin Sweeney is a graduate of Edinburgh and Bristol universities. He has practised as a corporate lawyer with Herbert Smith Freehills in London and Tokyo specialising in acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures and other corporate finance transactions. He was one of his firm's graduate recruitment partners before relocating to Singapore in 2008 to become its Managing Partner in South East Asia, where he was responsible for developing a growth strategy encompassing disputes, energy and finance.

In 2012, Austin moved to Hong Kong to lead the firm's corporate practice in Asia and was responsible for the restructuring and development of a team across nine offices. After 26 years with Herbert Smith Freehills, in 2020 Austin retired as a partner but remains as a consultant mentoring young lawyers and as a corporate advisor.