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Distinguished diplomat appointed University of Sussex’s new Chair of Council

Dame Denise Holt

Distinguished British diplomat, Dame Denise Holt, has been selected to serve as the University of Sussex’s new Chair of Council. The former British Ambassador will join the University Council as a member on 1 August 2017 and take over from the current Chair Christian Brodie next year.

After a wide-ranging diplomatic career, Dame Denise served as British Ambassador to Mexico (2002-05) and later, British Ambassador to Spain and Andorra (2007–09), becoming the first woman to hold the office in more than 500 years. 

Dame Denise now holds a number of non-executive roles in banking, energy, health and education. She is currently Chair of Marks & Spencer Bank plc and a member of the boards of HSBC Bank plc; of Nuffield Health (the not-for-profit trading charity); and of the Spanish electricity giant, Iberdrola SA. She has previously been a Board member of Ofqual, and served for a time on the Council of her alma mater, Bristol University.

Current Chair of the University’s Council Christian Brodie said: “Along with my fellow Council members, I am delighted Dame Denise has accepted this position. She joins Sussex at a time when the institution is in strong health, with an outstanding global reputation for its research and education offering. Dame Denise’s exceptional credentials and experience align with the University’s bold ambitions. I am looking forward to working with her over the next year as she transitions into the Chair’s role.”

Dame Denise Holt said: “The University of Sussex has a long-established identity as a higher education institution with a difference, combining world-class education and research with a real engagement with the world and the big questions of our day. I know, from personal experience, the high esteem in which British universities are held in other countries, and the vital role they play in the British economy and wider society. 

“I also live in Sussex, so it is especially pleasing for me to take on this position.  I am thrilled to be working alongside Christian Brodie and my new Council colleagues to ensure the institution continues to successfully evolve for the benefit of all.”

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell commented: “The higher education sector is facing momentous change over the coming years and as we embrace the challenges and look to capitalise on the many opportunities, I know Dame Denise will be an outstanding Chair of the institution.  Her extensive diplomatic and high-level business experience will be hugely beneficial to the continued strong leadership of the Council, particularly as the University establishes its new strategic framework. 

“We owe a great deal to the current Chair, Chris Brodie, for so successfully overseeing the Council at a time when the University navigated many hurdles.”

The University of Sussex’s Council has responsibility for the institution’s on-going strategic direction, as well as for the governance of its finances, property, investments and general business.

Christian Brodie has been Chair since August 2013 and has overseen the Council during a period of great success for the University including achievement of consistent top 20 places in all of the major league tables, implementation of a £500 million campus development programme, exceptional student employability rankings and international success for its research endeavours.

The selection process for the Chair included meetings with students and Students’ Union sabbatical officers.


Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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