The new governors: Bruce Mann, Michelle Hanson, Sir Keith O’Nions, Dinah Nichols, and Simon Perry

The former President and Rector of Imperial College, Sir Keith O’Nions, has joined the University of Plymouth’s Board of Governors along with four other experienced figures from government and industry. 

Sir Keith, the current Chair of Cambridge Enterprise, will join Michelle Hanson, Bruce Mann CB, Dinah Nichols CB and Simon Perry on the Board, bringing senior-level experience from the global food industry, the civil service, government and rural affairs, and finance respectively.

The five were appointed earlier this month after a national recruitment campaign, and were all on the Plymouth campus this week to meet fellow members and senior leaders at the University.

Colin Drummond, OBE DL, Chair of the Board, said: 

“We are delighted to welcome Sir Keith, Dinah, Simon, Bruce and Michelle to the University in their new capacity as independent governors. They bring a wealth of experience from across the private and public sectors, and we believe they will make a valuable and powerful contribution to the institution.”

Sir Keith was President and Rector of Imperial College until September 2014, and has a distinguished academic background, including Professor of Geology at Columbia University, Royal Society Research Professor at University of Cambridge, and Head of Earth Sciences at University of Oxford. He was Chief Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Defence from 2000—2004, and later Chief Scientific Advisor, for the then Department of Trade and Industry. Sir Keith was knighted for services to earth sciences in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Bruce Mann CB, has held a wide range of policy and operational roles in the Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Office, and was appointed Secretary to the Review by Privy Counsellors of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2004. He was Director of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, and was later its Finance Director.

Dinah Nichols CB, held a number of senior posts in transport, property and housing during her career in government. As Director General Environment she headed the UK delegation to the Johannesburg Earth Summit and in international negotiations on climate change. Subsequently she became a Crown Estate Commissioner, Chair of the National Forest Company and a Board member of the Pennon Group. She is the former Chair of Keep Britain Tidy, and is currently a Trustee of the Land Trust and the South West Lakes Trust.

Michelle Hanson is an experienced commercial director within the food and facilities sector, and is a former Executive Director of Sodexo PLC, a global organisation with a turnover of £1.2 billion.

Simon Perry is, a former senior partner at EY (Ernst & Young LLP) and has extensive UK and international experience of advising businesses through significant periods of growth and change, as well as major transactions. 

The five join the existing board which determines the educational character and mission of the University, and maintains oversight of its activities, budgets and senior management structure.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Petts, CBE, added: 

“Our five new independent governors will provide additional perspectives, and will build on our Board’s existing knowledge, expertise and strengths.”