Ronnie Bowie, Chair
From May 2022, the Board of Trustees comprises eight nominated Trustees and five ex-officio Trustees selected from the current Principals of the Scottish universities (Prior to 2019, a transition occurs from the previous larger Board, which included all Principals of the Scottish universities.)
Trustees are elected or re-elected at the Annual General Meeting of Trustees. Trustees are appointed for three-year terms, and can be re-elected no more than twice (i.e. limiting maximum service to nine years).
Trustees are proposed by the Universities, existing Trustees and others knowledgeable in Higher Education and are sought through open advertisements. They are appointed by the Trustees on the advice of the Nominations Committee, which works to ensure an appropriate range of expertise and experience in the Trust.
The Board is chaired by Ronnie Bowie, with Prof Andrea Nolan as Vice-Chair.
Ronnie Bowie, Chair
Ronnie Bowie – Chair and Trustee from May 2022
Ronnie Bowie spent most of his career as a partner, including a period as Senior Partner from 2002 to 2017, at Hymans Robertson, an actuarial consultancy. During his time there the firm grew from around 40 people to its current complement of over 1000, becoming one of the UK`s leading consultancies.
Having served on Council and a number of Committees in 2011 he drove the merger of the two UK actuarial bodies creating the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries of which he was the first President. He has recently been awarded the Finlaison Medal by the actuarial profession for his service.
Subsequently he has held a number of non executive positions including chairing the Prudential Assurance Company, the University of Dundee, the Natwest Group Pension Scheme and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice. He is also currently involved in the work to bring the Eden Project to Dundee. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Outside work he enjoys time with his 4 daughters, occasional golf and holidays.
Professor Andrea Nolan
Professor Andrea Nolan, MVB, FRCVS, PhD, DVA, DiplECVAA, DipECVPT – Trustee since July 2013, Vice Chair since May 2023
Professor Nolan is Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University and Professor in Veterinary Pharmacology.
Andrea graduated as a veterinary surgeon from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and after a short time in veterinary practice, embarked on an academic career which led to her appointment as a lecturer in Veterinary Pharmacology and ultimately Professor in the University of Glasgow.
During the 1990s, Andrea established herself as a research leader in the field of animal pain, its recognition and management. She has published widely and has received awards for her work including the Pfizer Academic Award for Animal Health Research, the Amoroso Award from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Companion Animal Award. She has contributed to educational development in animal pain management and welfare over many years. She has been a member of several journal Editorial Boards, was a founding member of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Global Pain Council and is currently a Trustee of two animal charities.
Andrea was awarded an Honorary OBE in 2013 for services to Higher Education and Veterinary Science. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Royal Agricultural Societies.
The Rt Hon Lord Eassie
The Rt Hon Lord Eassie (Ronald D Mackay), PC. Trustee since 2016.
Lord Eassie holds the degrees of MA (Hons) from the University of St Andrews and LLB from the University of Edinburgh. Admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1972, he practised at the Bar until 1979, when he took up a post as an official of the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg. He resumed practice as an advocate in 1983 becoming Queen’s Counsel in 1986. He served as an Advocate depute between 1987 and 1990.
From 1997 until retirement in 2015 Lord Eassie held office as a judge in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary; and between 2002 and 2006 was also chairman of the Scottish Law Commission. Among extra-judicial activities, in 2005 he accepted an invitation to assume convenorship of the Joint Standing Committee on Legal Education in Scotland. He is also president of the council of the Scottish Universities Law Institute.
Lord Eassie is an honorary member of the Society of Legal Scholars and has contributed to, or edited, a number of legal textbooks.
Professor George Boyne
Professor George Boyne became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen on 1 August 2018.
Professor Boyne has spent the majority of his academic career in Wales. He was Pro Vice-Chancellor, Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and a member of University Executive Board at Cardiff University since 2012.
He was previously Dean of Cardiff University’s Business School, and is a world-leading expert on the performance of public sector organisations. Professor Boyne has been a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2010.
Ray Perman, BA MBA FRSE. Trustee since 2019
Ray Perman started his working life as a journalist on newspapers including The Times and the Financial Times, before co-founding the business magazine company Insider Publications Ltd in 1983. The business was sold to Trinity Mirror plc in 1999. He was an executive director of Caledonian Publishing plc, which bought the Glasgow Herald from Lonrho in 1992 and sold it to Scottish Media Group in 1996.
From 2005-2013 he was chair of the Access to Finance Expert Group, which advised the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on policy relating to SME finance. He was a member of the board of Scottish Enterprise from 2004-2009 and chair of Social Investment Scotland, which makes loans to the social economy, from 2001-2009. He is a former member of the court of Heriot Watt University and chaired three small companies including his son’s radio and digital media business.
From 2011-17 he chaired the James Hutton Institute, a scientific research organisation working in the fields of environmental sustainability and food security, and from 2014-17 he was Director of the David Hume Institute, which commissions research and organises seminars on economic, political, social and business issues affecting Scotland.
He is author of HUBRIS: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain (2012) and a biography of the Gaelic scholar John Lorne Campbell, The Man Who Gave Away His Island (2010). His financial history of Edinburgh, The Rise and Fall of the City of Money, will be published in autumn 2019.
Dr Bridget McConnell
Dr Bridget McConnell, CBE – Trustee since May 2020
Bridget McConnell was Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, the largest culture, sport, learning and tourism charity in the country since 1998 until April 2022.
Dr Mary Duffy
Dr Mary Duffy, Trustee since November 2021
Mary comes from a close-knit rural community in Northern Ireland. The first in her family to go to university, she believes in the transformational potential of education. She has lived in Scotland since 1997 and has two children educated in Gaelic state schools.
In March 2018 Mary co-founded The Juniper Trust, which provides support to young people from low-income families who are undergraduates at Scottish universities. She is also a director of The Juniper Companies and her work combines charitable and commercial ambitions, focused on building the contexts within which people and organisations can thrive. Prior to this she led the work of BBC Children in Need in Scotland.
Mary was vice chair at The Social Enterprise Academy, an international learning organisation, where she chaired the Nominations Committee. She is a trustee of the Personal Assets Trust Foundation and a director of Didasko, a financial education company which runs a course on financial history and owns the Library of Mistakes.
A strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, Mary helped to establish Changing the Chemistry, an organisation aimed at increasing boardroom diversity in all sectors. She is disabled, with a significant hearing impairment.
Mary has a DPhil from the University of Oxford, an MSc (Econ) from the LSE, and a BSc (Hons) and PGCert from the University of Ulster.
Professor Sir Gerry McCormac
Professor Sir Gerry McCormac. Trustee since May 2022
Professor Sir Gerry McCormac became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling in May 2010. He is a scientist with research interests in both space physics and carbon dating.
His early career was spent at the University of Michigan, where he worked on the NASA Dynamics Explorer satellite program. He subsequently headed up the high-precision carbon dating facility at Queen’s University Belfast. He became Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen’s in 2001 to 2010, with responsibility for Academic and Financial Planning, Economic Development and External Affairs.
In 2020, Sir Gerry took on the role of Convener of Universities Scotland. He served as Vice Convener of Universities Scotland between 2016 and 2020 and is an active member of Universities UK. He is also a former Vice Convener of Universities Scotland Funding Policy Group (FPG), a board member of UCEA and chairman of the UCEA Scottish Committee. He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Manufacturers(FRSA). He chaired a review of teacher employment in Scotland for the Scottish Government in 2011. In 2015/16 he served as an advisor to the NI Government during the merger of departments that created the Department for the Economy (DfE).
Professor McCormac was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List 2021, for services to education and to the economy.
Professor Richard Williams
Professor Richard A Williams, OBE FREng FTSE FRSE – Trustee since February 2023
Professor Richard Williams is Principal & Vice Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, a post held since 2015. He has held senior roles at several universities including Exeter, Leeds and Manchester and is a graduate of Imperial College London. His academic background is chemical and minerals engineering with strong entrepreneurial interests and experience. He is a trustee of the Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation and on the advisory board of Lloyds Register Foundation. He is a recipient of the President’s Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering, twice serving as Vice President. He is co-chair of UAE-UK Business Council (Education). His academic interests are in energy storage technology and policy and the ecology of metals and rare earths.
Dr Claire Swan
Dr Claire Swan – Trustee since February 2023
Claire is from Dundee and was the first person in her family to go to University. She graduated from the University of Dundee with an MA in Modern History in 2003, an MPhil in 2004, and with the help of a Carnegie Scholarship, a PhD on the ‘History of the Scottish Investment Trust Industry’ in 2010. Her studies included a year abroad at the University of Oklahoma and a Research Assistant post at Queen Mary, University of London. Claire’s research introduced her to investment management and she has gone on to enjoy a career at Baillie Gifford & Co., an Edinburgh-based global investment firm. In her role, Claire is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with some of the Firm’s largest financial institution clients who are located in the United States.
Dr Alexandra Walker
Dr Alexandra Walker – Trustee since May 2023
Alexandra Walker started off as an academic, achieving a doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of St Andrews in 2006 with the support of a Carnegie Scholarship. She went on to complete a Masters degree in leadership for sustainable development, before embarking on a civil service career at HM Treasury. She worked in a number of government departments in various policy, finance and governance roles for twelve years, including as a senior civil servant at the Department for Education and DEFRA. She then moved to the charitable sector, serving as Chief Operating Officer at the Whitehall & Industry Group from 2020-23.
Alexandra has now set up a business, Damsel Not In Distress Ltd, focusing on mental health and wellbeing. She lives in the north-west Highlands of Scotland with her husband Simon, and is often to be found hillwalking in her spare time – they finished their Munro round in 2021. Music is a very important part of Alexandra’s life, including having composed a musical and played the solo in Grieg’s piano concerto with the St Andrews University orchestra.
Graeme Johnston – Trustee since February 2023
Graeme studied Mathematics at the University of Glasgow and qualified as an actuary after graduation. Subsequently, he spent most of his career in investment management. In 2008, he joined the consultancy firm, Hymans Robertson, where he was primarily responsible for the firm’s capital markets research. He retired as a partner in 2019.
Since retirement, Graeme continues to do some work as an independent consultant. He is also a member of the University of Glasgow’s Investment Advisory Committee, which advises on the investment policy, and oversees the management, of the University’s endowment funds. In his leisure time, Graeme plays golf and bridge, with more enthusiasm than skill, and enjoys travel, including regular trips to visit family in the US.
Professor James A Miller
Professor James A Miller, FRSE –Trustee since May 2023
Professor James Miller FRSE was appointed as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in November 2022.
Beginning his career as a clinical nurse in Edinburgh, Professor Miller is the first nurse to be appointed as a University Principal and Vice-Chancellor in Scotland.
Professor Miller was Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University from August 2015 to November 2022 and previously held a range of other senior roles, including Director of the Open University in Scotland and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a member of the Institute of Directors, a member of the International Advisory Board for the Amity University Group in India, and was a founder member of the British Council’s Digital Advisory Board. James was elected as a Feelow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2023.
Professor Miller has also held a series of roles in healthcare, including Deputy Director of Nursing for West Lothian Healthcare Trust and Divisional General Manager in South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust.
After completing his registration at North Lothian College of Nursing and Midwifery in 1986, Professor Miller undertook a post registration degree at what is now Abertay University. He also has an MBA from Edinburgh Napier University, a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is an alumnus of Harvard University’s Institute of Education Management.