So, it is just over 6 months since my first meeting as the Support Staff Member of The Board of Governors and what a whirlwind it has been. In this time, I have been part of some very interesting and thought-provoking conversations and hope I have been able to offer another perspective to some of the decisions being made.

Remember Liz Truss being in power just a few days before the Queen died? Well, I was on the Board for just a few weeks when Steve Igoe announced his retirement (hopefully I will last longer than Liz Truss and will not leave a trail of destruction). At this point there was a discussion with the Board members as to how to handle the recruitment of Steve’s replacement. This also gave us the opportunity to reflect on how the University has developed significantly over the past 27 years and to think about the direction we want to go over the next. The Board were kept up to date on the progress of the recruitment, and we look forward to welcoming our new Pro Vice-Chancellor later in the year.

One of the big issues on the radar for the Board in 2024/25 is the University Strategy for 2026 onwards. While the Board is not responsible for drafting this, it does want to have a good overview and the opportunity to have a say in the way in which the University wants to move forward as the Board does have responsibility for approving the strategy. As part of this, we had an away day in January. On the coldest day of the year so far, we had the chance to meet up with the senior executive teams, including the deans from each faculty. We were able to examine the progress made against the current strategy, before exploring the potential strategy ideas moving forward. Much of the day was spent in small groups reflecting on the University, its achievements, its image now and where it wants to be by 2030! With most of the Governors coming from outside of the sector it was interesting to get an oversight as to how we are potentially viewed by the wider population and how important our brand and reputation are.

Over the past few months, the University has had lots of successes. Many of these are highlighted at our meetings and the Board are always very keen to pass on their congratulations and thanks to everybody involved. I am very conscious that whilst this may appear in the minutes of each meeting, I doubt everybody has time or inclination to read them, so the message possible doesn’t get to all colleagues. Please be assured that there is a high level of pride from all the Governors for the University. The Board recognises the hard work that goes into running the University and its successes, and I am sure would like to thank every single person involved.

I must admit I am not the sort of person to get excited by finances. However, a regular agenda item for the Board is the University’s financial position. You will have seen from John’s regular updates that most universities are experiencing challenges at the moment and Edge Hill is not immune to this. With careful management Edge Hill is faring better than many other institutions. The Board does not have any involvement in the general day to day running or costs of the University aside from agreeing the overall annual budget. However, it does still need an overview of the financial position and particularly of some bigger projects such as the campus development and the new Student Record System.
As part of the Board there is an Audit Committee that looks at strategic, operational, and financial risks and the robustness of the University’s underlying processes and systems. This Committee is made up of a small number of independent governors who are also Board members, many of whom have high level experience of the kind of risks faced by institutions. . This Committee meets separately with the executive. I am sure that there are some tough and rigorous discussions which take place in that meeting. The Committee then feeds back to the Board to provide assurance.

The next Board meeting will feel very strange as it will be happening in daylight! As the meetings are scheduled for 5pm the ones I have attended so far have all been after dark!