Council members

Council is the governing body of the University.

The majority of its 22 members are from outside the University - the independent members. They contribute a wide range of experience and expertise from different sectors.

Other seats are held by members of University staff and two seats are held ex officio by the Presidents of the University’s student associations (YUSU and GSA).

Chair of Council

Dr Alice Maynard was appointed to Council on 6 March 2023 as an Independent Member and became Chair of Council and Pro-Chancellor from 1 August 2023. Her term runs until March 2026.

Alice founded and runs Future Inclusion as an executive coach/mentor and business adviser, helping leaders improve organisation performance through inclusive practice. She currently sits as a non-exec director for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) where she chairs the People Committee. She is a member of the Government Commercial Office Remuneration Committee. She is a past non-exec director for HMRC, where she chaired the People Committee, and past member of the Board of Transport for London where she was Vice-Chair of the Customer Service and Operational Performance Panel.

From 2008 to 2014, Alice led the Board of Scope, the disability charity, rebuilding its financial and management capability. This led her to join third sector colleagues in establishing the Association of Chairs, to improve performance through better chairing.

In 2014 Alice won a Sunday Times Non-Executive Director of the Year award, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of York. She received a CBE in the 2015 New Year Honours.

Independent members

Independent Lay Member of Council

Abisola Barber was appointed to Council as an independent (lay) member from June 2022 for an initial three-year term, until May 2025.

A Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) graduate from the University of York, Abisola is Global Head, Thematic Risk for the Institutional Clients Group at Citibank, and has previously held a number of senior positions in banking and finance, including at Barclays Investment Bank.

Abisola is also a professional development consultant and holds experience in and exposure to an array of industries and professions including Entertainment, Public/Third Sector, and Commercial Services. Her formative years were spent in Government and Politics, as a Strategic Advisor and Board Member for several Local Government Groups and National Agencies – providing strategic guidance for content, execution and delivery of key Children and Young People’s Services.

Abisola has been shortlisted for, and won, numerous accolades for her work promoting women and diversity in finance, including Barclays Plc’s UK Winner and Global Finalist: ‘Citizenship and Diversity Role Model’ 2020 and Finalist in the same year in Athena40/Global Thinkers Forum for the world’s most innovative women.

Abisola sits on the Advisory Board for the University’s School for Business and Society. She also holds an MSc in International Public Policy from UCL, along with a clutch of professional qualifications under the Capital Markets Programme.

Professor Simon Best OBE, FRSE, joined Council as a lay member in 2019. His term on Council runs until October 2024.

Simon is a life sciences and biotechnology entrepreneur, and is Lead Independent Director at the pharmaceutical company Liminal Biosciences, which is dedicated to healing conditions such as fibrosis.

Simon’s track record in life sciences commercialisation has seen him founding and developing substantial ventures, including Ardana; Zeneca Plant Science; Evofem in the United States, which focuses on products supporting women’s sexual and reproductive health; and Roslin Biomed, spun out from The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh. Simon was Chair of commercialisation for Edinburgh BioQuarter from 2010-15.

Simon is an alumnus of the University of York (BMus, 1977), holds an MBA from London Business School, and was awarded an honorary degree from York in 2004. Simon was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to the pharmaceutical industry. Simon has been awarded such accolades as Science and Technology Venturer of the Year (1999) and Technology Pioneer of the Year (2000). Simon is a Visiting Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

Building on his first love of music, Simon started his career as music talent-spotter and started a record label, working with the 1980s electropop-synth band, The Human League.

Professor Dame Vicki Bruce joined Council as an independent member in February 2021, and is Professor Emerita in Psychology at the University of Newcastle, where she was Head of Department until 2015.

As well as holding professorships at the Universities of Nottingham and Stirling, Vicki was Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Vicki is a former President of the British Psychological Society (BPS), Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was awarded an OBE in 1997 and DBE in 2015 for services to Psychology and Higher Education. She holds honorary doctorates from Goldsmiths, University of London, St Andrews, the University of York and several Honorary Fellowships.

Council - Philip Carpenter

Philip Carpenter is by background a publisher for higher education with an interest in the ways in which publishing and digital technologies can support the development of teaching, learning and research to enhance student outcomes and enable the impact of the research community.

After leaving Oxford University, he joined Blackwell Publishers in 1979, where he published extensively across the Humanities and Social Sciences. Following the merger with Blackwell's sister company Blackwell Science in 2000, he took responsibility for the company's combined book publishing across the whole academic spectrum for the global market, including particularly its development in the United States and Asia.

When John Wiley Inc acquired Blackwell Publishing in 2007, he took on the leadership of the combined journal and book publishing of the merged company in the Social Sciences and Humanities. He subsequently became Senior Vice President for Wiley's journal programme, then in 2014 Executive Vice President for Research, with responsibility for all the company's digital products and services for the global research community.

He has taken an active interest in how the publishing industry can support universities and governments in the development of higher education. He served on the Board of STM, the International Association of Scientific, Medical and Technical Publishers, from 2013 to 2017 and in 2021-22 as its CEO on an interim basis.

He is a non-executive director of the Institute of Physics Publishing and Advisory Board Director of Kortext, the leading UK student learning platform.

Council - Lindsey Fussell

Lindsey Fussell joined Council in July 2018 and will stand down at the end of February 2024.

Lindsey is Networks and Communications Group Director at Ofcom, the independent telecoms and media regulator, and is responsible for leading regulation of the telecoms and postal sectors. She sits as an executive member on the Ofcom Board.

Before joining Ofcom in 2016, Lindsey’s career was mostly in the Civil Service, including as Director of Public Services at HM Treasury, responsible for oversight of public spending on defence and security, education and criminal justice. She is a qualified accountant. 

Professor John Loughhead CB OBE FREng FTSE joined Council in 2019.

John is a specialist in industrial research at the interface of industry and academia, and was Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) from 2016 to 2020. Prior to this he held roles as Chief Scientific Adviser at the former Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and Corporate Vice-President of Technology and IP at global transport company, Alstom.

He is a past president of the UK Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and its Australian counterpart, and a Fellow of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), and an Honorary Professor at the University of Cardiff.

John has strong regional roots and lives in West Yorkshire with his wife, who spent her entire career working in Yorkshire.

Judith McNicol joined Council as a lay member in 2019 and is on leave of absence until 29 February 2024.

Since 2017, Judith has been the Director of the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York. The NRM is part of the prestigious Science Museums Group (SMG). Prior to this Judith held group-wide senior posts in the wider SMG, including as Director of People and Culture, Change Director and Commercial Development Director.

With a commitment to outreach and opening access, Judith herself completed a Foundation Degree (FdSc) in Countryside Management as a mature student from Bishop Burton College.

Judith has lived in Yorkshire for 20 years and is committed to the future success and growth of the City and its major institutions, including the University and the NRM.

Dr Philip Rycroft CB joined the Council as a lay member in February 2020. Philip has had a distinguished career as a senior civil servant, holding senior roles in both the Scottish and the UK governments.

He was responsible for Higher Education policy in Scotland between 2006 and 2009 and was Director General in the office of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg between 2012 and 2015.

Philip’s most recent role was as Head of the UK Governance Group in the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for constitutional and devolution issues, and as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU).

He left the civil service in 2019 and is now a non-executive director, independent consultant and academic.

Philip was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2014 for services to the UK’s devolved and coalition governments.

His own academic background is as an historian; he completed a Doctorate of Philosophy (DPhil) at the University of Oxford in the late 1980s on the local social and economic history of part of the West Riding of Yorkshire in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the course of which he visited York to use the archives of the then Borthwick Institute of Historical Research.

In September 2019, Philip took up a distinguished visiting fellowship at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, and holds an Honorary Professorship at Edinburgh University. His current research interests are in the governance and politics of the United Kingdom.

Council - Chris Thompson

Chris is a Senior Independent Lay Member of Council. His term runs until July 2026.

He is a chartered accountant who was Chief Financial Officer at the University of Nottingham from 2007 to 2013, where he was responsible for finance, procurement, IT and research administration.

His career has largely been spent in the retail and food manufacturing sectors. After working for KPMG for 10 years, he went on to work in senior financial positions in a number of retailers, including Asda and Woolworths, before joining the Co-operative movement, where he was responsible for the management of businesses in the funerals, pharmacy, retail, distribution and manufacturing sectors.

Chris is married with four children and lives in Harrogate.

Owen was appointed as a co-opted member of Audit and Risk Committee in February 2020, and became a member of Council in November 2023.

An alumnus in economics of the University of York, Owen is a chartered accountant with over 16 years' experience of private equity investing in both Europe and North America.

Owen spent five years with Granville Baird, now Key Capital Partners, based in Leeds and London, for which he is a Managing Partner. Prior to joining Key Capital Partners, Owen was a partner in the Mezzanine Fund of the Royal Bank of Canada, based in Toronto. During that time, he held a number of non-executive directorships of client companies. Owen is also a governor of York College.

Owen lives in York with his wife, daughter and their dog. He is a keen cricket and squash player and a long-suffering supporter of Lincoln City FC.

David Watson

David is currently Chair of the University’s Audit and Risk Committee and became a member of Council in February 2021. He is a chartered accountant (Price Waterhouse) with a law degree from Cambridge University. David has worked throughout his career in the financial services sector and has held senior management roles within investment banking, private equity and asset management.

Most recently, David was co-founding partner of Pensato Capital, an asset management firm, where David was responsible for the overall management of the business, including governance, finance, risk and all legal and compliance matters. David ran this well-regarded business for some 10 years before managing its sale in 2017 to a sector consolidator.

A competitive cyclist and keen gardener, David lives in North Yorkshire with his partner and three dogs. David is also a member of the Finance, Audit and Risk committee of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Ex officio members

Professor Ken Badcock has been Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost since May 2023. 

Read Ken's full profile

Photograph portrait of Professor Charlie Jeffery

Professor Charlie Jeffery became Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of York in September 2019. He joined us from the University of Edinburgh where he had been Senior Vice-Principal since 2014. He was a Member of Council of the Economic and Social Research Council from 2006-12 and Chair of the Political Studies Association of the UK from 2009-12.

Read Charlie's full profile

Four members nominated by the Senate, including one Pro-Vice-Chancellor

Kieran Gibson

Professor Kieran Gibson joined the University of York in 2007 as a Reader, before being appointed to a Chair in Plasma Physics in the York Plasma Institute in 2013, and from 2017 has been Head of School in the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology.

He graduated with an undergraduate degree from Imperial College, London, followed by a PhD at the University of Manchester. He began his academic career at UMIST, and subsequently the University of Manchester, as a lecturer in 1993.

His research is focused on the development of fusion energy – the energy source that powers the sun and the stars - and specialises in magnetically-confined fusion plasma research, seeking to provide environmentally sustainable sources of energy for the future. His expertise spans the development of plasma measurement systems, plasma stability, as well as studies of the handling of heat and particle exhaust at the edge of fusion devices – a critical issue for future fusion reactors which involves both plasma physics and materials science.

He has served as a senior member of the Board of Governors of FuseNet, the co-ordinating body for fusion education in Europe, and was Programme Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in the Science and Technology of Fusion Energy, a consortium of five UK universities providing doctoral training for the next generation of fusion scientists. Among a number of roles he currently holds in the community, he is a member of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Programme Advisory Committee, a body that advises on the UK government strategy in fusion science and technology.

He will serve on Council until February 2024.

Read Kieran's full profile

Professor Nicky Milner

Professor Nicky Milner FBA, FSA, FSA (Scot) joined the Council from September 2021. Her term expires in July 2024.

She holds a BA from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. She was a lecturer at the University of Newcastle before joining the University of York in 2004.

She was appointed to Professor in 2012, and has been Head of Archaeology since 2019. She was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2019.

She sits on a number of boards, trusts and societies including being a member of the Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Scientific Committee for the A303 Stonehenge project, a member of the Jersey Heritage Framework Advisory Board, a REF subpanel member for Archaeology, a Director and Trustee of Antiquity (the leading Archaeology journal), former Vice-President of the Prehistoric Society, and a British Academy H7 steering committee member. 

Her research focuses on the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age) and she has directed a number of excavations including the site of Star Carr (a site near Scarborough) which revealed Britain's oldest known house, the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe and evidence that hunter-gatherers 11,000 years ago were resilient during a period of climate change. Her excavations and research have featured on a number of TV and radio programmes including Time Team specials, several episodes of Digging for Britain and Ray Mears' Wild Food.

She has given over 40 public talks on Star Carr and collaborated on a number of museum exhibitions including at the Yorkshire Museum, the Rotunda in Scarborough and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. She has also won a number of national prizes including Research Project of the year in the Current Archaeology Awards (2014 and 2020) and the Best innovation prize in the British Archaeological Awards. 

Read Nicky's full profile

Professor Lesley Stewart

Professor Lesley Stewart has been Director of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination since 2006. She is also the Programme Director for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Evidence Synthesis Programme.

Lesley has served on many advisory and editorial boards including Cochrane Denmark, Current Controlled Trials, BMJ Open, Research Synthesis Methods currently, and previously the Systematic Review Data Repository Governance Board (2013-2019), COVID-END partnership (2020-2023) and the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Clinical Practice Guidelines and Clinical Research Methods and Ethics (2013-2015). She has been chair or member of international steering committees that developed reporting guidance (PRISMA, PRISMA-IPD, PRISMA-P, PRISMA-ScR) and tools (RoB-2, ROB-ME, TACIT) for use in evidence synthesis.

Between 2006 and 2022, in addition to her role in individual research projects, Lesley directed the York NIHR Technology Assessment Review (TAR) team, which provides technology assessments that support NICE decision making. 

Her term on Council runs until July 2024. 

Read Lesley's full profile

Kiran Trehan

Professor Kiran Trehan is the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, Partnerships and Engagement and Director of the Centre for Women’s Enterprise, Leadership, Economy and Diversity.

Her term on Council will run until September 2023.

Read Kiran's full profile

Two members elected by and from Professional Services staff

Karl was elected to Council as a Professional Support Staff representative from 14 December 2023 until the 31 July 2026.

Karl is a key member of the Campus Security Team and will bring front line experience into the student experience to Council.

His commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in many ways, including as a Inclusive Impact Awards judging panel member and through the diversity and inclusivity that he fosters in his role enabling students, staff and visitors alike to feel safe and included on campus.

Jonny Exon

Jonny Exon joined the University of York in November 2010. He has 13 years’ experience in higher education administration and management, in research support and student support. He was the Manager of Langwith College before becoming interim CEO of the Graduate Students’ Association.

Jonny gained an LLB in Law from the University of Durham. He also holds an MA in Criminal Justice from the University of Leeds, and an MA in Fine Art from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Madrid.

Jonny has been a trustee of several local and regional charities including the Pay and Employment Rights Service, York Family Mediation Service and Tang Hall Community Centre. He is currently trustee and honorary treasurer of St Nicks - a nature reserve and environmental centre close to York’s city centre.

In his spare time Jonny enjoys reading, rock climbing, canoeing and photography.

His term on Council runs until November 2024.

Presidents of the Students' Unions

Mardan Nasier is President of the Graduate Students' Association (until July 2024). Mardan's key role is to voice the opinions of postgraduate students in all senior level committees of the University. 

Pierrick is President of the University of York Students' Union (until July 2024). He is the lead representative for all students at the University and sits on a variety of University committees to ensure they hear the student voice.

In attendance

Adam will take up his position as Interim University Secretary on 29 January 2024.

Joss Ivory

Dr Joss Ivory is responsible for Professional Services at the University. 

Read more about Joss Ivory

As Interim Finance Director, Nirmal ensures the University has the financial means to realise its plans and ambitions. 

Co-opted members of Council subcommittees

Co-opted members of Council subcommittees are independent, lay individuals, bringing specialist advice and input. They provide additional expert advice within the corporate governance framework of the University, without increasing the number of lay members on Council.

Co-opted members are not members of Council, and therefore are not Trustees of the University. However, they are full members of the Committee on which they sit, and make a pivotal contribution to the business of the committee, operating within the same terms of office as Council members: an initial two-year term, with the potential for renewal up to two consecutive four-year terms.

There are three co-opted members within our subcommittee system: two on the Audit and Risk Committee and one on the Remuneration Committee. There are currently two vacancies on the Audit and Risk Committee.

Samantha Ng image

Samantha was appointed as a co-opted member of Audit and Risk Committee for an initial three-year term from 2 January 2024.

Samantha is currently Managing Director of Non-Financial Risk at Deutsche Bank, London, having worked in senior roles in global firms including Credit Suisse, McKinsey and Company and Singapore Civil Aviation Authority.

Samantha’s expertise extends to business transformation, strategy and executive coaching. A graduate in English from Cambridge, Samantha also holds an MBA with Distinction from London Business School and is currently completing an Open University BSc degree in Psychology, underlining her commitment to lifelong learning.

Benjamin Van Caroll portrait

Benjamin (Ben) was appointed as a co-opted member of Audit and Risk Committee for an initial three-year term from 2 January 2024.

York-based Ben is currently Director of Network Strategy for Fibrus Networks, responsible for the planning and execution of digital strategy and projects to meet CRM and company delivery targets.

Ben has also worked as General Manager for BT Openreach for its Major Change Programmes and Strategy, and other technology and telecoms firms.

Ben holds a BSc in Management and Information Technology from the University of Manchester and a Masters from Harvard. He has non-executive experience, and most recently as trustee for the RSPCA (York & Harrogate District).

Claire Wesley

Claire was appointed as a co-opted member of Remuneration Committee in 2015.

Claire is a solicitor who specialised in tax and worked with a variety of UK and international businesses on all aspects of share/bonus plan advisory work and was a partner at PwC and Deloitte.

Claire is Chair of Compass, a charity providing health and wellbeing services for children, young people, adults, families and communities, and of The Arts Society Ebor and Secretary for the North East Area.

Claire has been a Governor at St Peter’s School in York, Vice Chair of Ryedale CAB (and Trustee of CAB Mid North Yorkshire following the merger of Ryedale).