Helen Gordon appointed first woman President of Council
04 April 2022
Helen Gordon has been appointed as President of the Council, University of Reading’s governing body.
Helen will take over from Paul Preston, who completes his term on 31 July 2022. Helen has strong leadership experience in the healthcare sector, and is currently the Chief Executive of the Science Council – a membership organisation for professional bodies in science.
Helen joined the University of Reading Council over four years ago, and has been one of the Vice-Presidents since August 2020. She will be the Council’s first woman President.
The Council is responsible for ensuring proper governance at the University and that all legal and regulatory requirements are met. It has 27 members, including 15 members external to the University.
Helen Gordon said:
“I am both delighted and humbled to be appointed to this important role at a time of great change and also opportunity for the University. I look forward to working closely with members of Council and the Vice Chancellor to support the delivery of our strategy that will benefit students, staff and the wider community.”
Competitive recruitment process
The recruitment process was led by Council Vice-President Kate Owen and supported by a panel consisting of Vice-President Tom Beardmore-Gray, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Parveen Yaqoob, Reading University Students’ Union Welfare Officer Grace Loweth and Council members Penny Egan and Richard Frazier.
Announcing the panel’s decision, Kate Owen said:
“We were very impressed by the field of candidates to choose from. Everyone who applied had significant leadership experience in higher education, and many years of senior governance experience in other sectors.
“What made Helen stand out is her strong motivation for the role, a clear understanding of the line between governance and management and how important it is to bring student and staff voices to the Council’s decision-making.
“Although her experience as a Vice President means that she knows the University of Reading well she demonstrated a clear strategic view of the significant changes required to navigate the challenges facing the higher education sector and is confident that the commitment and passion that students and staff have for the university will help it navigate these challenges successfully.”
Leadership in healthcare
Helen trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, and progressed through a number of clinical and managerial positions in hospitals, before serving as CEO of The Hillingdon Hospital and then Queen Mary’s Sidcup NHS Trust in South East London.
She then moved to national roles to support the development of health professionals. Helen led as CEO of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal Society of Medicine. She now supports a diverse community of professional bodies in science through the Science Council.
Helen did her MBA from Henley Business School and is the inaugural chair of the Alumni and Development Board at Henley Business School and also a trustee of AESOP (Arts Enterprise for Social Purpose).