The Senior Governor undertakes the responsibilities expected of a chairperson of the University and presides over meetings of University Court in the Rector's absence.
The University has a chief executive in the role of the Principal, but best governance practice recommends that the roles of chairperson and chief executive should not be held by the same person. The Rector is the President of Court, but it is unlikely that a Rector would be able to undertake a chairperson's role due to the additional commitments involved. Due to this, the Court created the position of Senior Governor whose role is to preside over meetings of Court in the Rector's absence but, more importantly, to undertake all the other responsibilities expected of a chairperson. This involves ensuring that the Court fulfils its objectives in a proper and effective manner, reviewing the performance of the Principal and convening various committees.
The Senior Governor is selected by the Court from among its lay members. The Court will normally indicate the expected duration of the Senior Governor's term at the point of appointment. This is always subject to satisfactory annual appraisal by the designated Intermediary on Court, and to the Senior Governor remaining a lay member of the Court.
Dame Anne Pringle
The current Senior Governor of the University is Dame Anne Pringle. An alumnus of the University, Dame Anne spent most of her subsequent career as a diplomat with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). She was Ambassador to Russia (2008–2011), Director for Strategy and FCO Board member (2004–2007) and Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2001–2004). Since leaving the FCO, Dame Anne has taken on a number of consultancy and non-executive director roles, and serves as a Public Appointments assessor. Dame Anne became the University’s Senior Governor in August 2016.