Leeds Beckett University announces new Chair of the Board of Governors

Aug 23, 2023

Leeds Beckett University has appointed experienced financial services leader Iain Cornish as its new Chair.

Iain has more than thirty years’ experience of working in senior positions in financial services, including steering Yorkshire Building Society through the global financial crisis. He is currently Chair of Leeds Building Society and is also Treasurer of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Iain succeeds television executive David Lowen, who served as Chair of the Board from December 2014.

David has overseen major transformation and improvement, including:

  • Huge investment in state-of the-art new facilities including the newly opened Leeds School of Arts, the Carnegie School of Sports and cutting-edge clinical suites to prepare students for careers in health.
  • Over half the university’s research classed as internationally excellent or world-leading in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.
  • Rising 40 places – the biggest increase of any institution – in the Complete University Guide 2024.

Iain Cornish said: “It’s a privilege to be appointed chair of Leeds Beckett University. It is one of the city’s great success stories, making an incredible contribution to the city, region and increasingly around the world.

“I can’t wait to get to work with the governors and university colleagues to maintain that incredible momentum in what is a very challenging time for the sector.

“I hope to bring my experience of managing change in the financial sector, working with colleagues, to ensure that the board continues to support the university’s progress locally, nationally and internationally.”

Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, said:

“I am delighted Iain is joining us.

“He brings great experience as a Board Chair, knowledge, and connections in Leeds, and a strong commitment to our values and role as one of our city’s key anchor institutions. I very much look forward to working with him.

“I wish to thank David for his excellent leadership over almost a decade as our Board Chair.

“David has been such a positive force in supporting change and improvement in our teaching, research and student experience, while his national role has provided leadership in the wider sector.”

Outgoing Chair, David Lowen, said:

Leeds Beckett has been a massive part of my life for nearly ten years.

“Last month’s stunning Graduation ceremonies were a wonderful opportunity to reflect on a decade well spent.

“It has been an honour to support Peter and the talented colleagues across the university to build a truly unique, special place to work and study. I wish them and Iain all the best in writing the next chapter of the Leeds Beckett success story.”

Iain began his career as an econometrician and strategy consultant before moving into the building society sector with roles in marketing, strategic planning and corporate affairs. He spent 20 years at Yorkshire Building Society where he became Chief Executive. During his executive career, he also served as Chair of the Building Societies Association and Chair of the Financial Services Authority practitioner panel and was an executive committee member of the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

In his non-executive career, Iain’s roles have included independent director of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulatory Authority as well as acting as a Special Advisor to the Treasury Select Committee in respect of its investigation into the failure of HBOS. He has also been Chair of Shawbrook Bank and Chair of St James’s Place.

Iain becomes chair on 1 September 2023.

David Lowen

David is a television executive of wide experience and consultant adviser to broadcasters, programme makers and financial institutions. He was appointed Chair in December 2014 and is also Deputy Chair of the Committee of University Chairs, which plays a leading role in governance and regulation of the higher education sector. In 2018, David became Chair of UCAS Council. He was board Director of Network Programme Development and later board Director of Corporate Development for ITV Yorkshire Television before leading ITV Network’s digital terrestrial television launch project, the first successful launch in the world.

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