Chair of Governors Job Description


St Chad’s is an independent college within Durham University. It is a vibrant, distinctive academic community of over 600 students, including 150 postgraduates, belonging to all disciplines, welcoming students of all faiths and beliefs, all cultures, nationalities, and backgrounds.

A separate registered charity with its own governors, its origins date back to 1904, when it was created as a Church of England foundation to enable the ordination of clergy, who might not otherwise at the time gain access to higher education. St Chad’s today is still animated by the same aspirations for service and inclusion, and this Anglican Christian tradition continues to shape our culture today which is friendly, inclusive, intellectually curious and forward thinking.

St Chad’s historic buildings are situated on a World Heritage Site, adjacent to Durham Cathedral. Students and staff live and work side by side, sharing the life of a multigenerational and interdisciplinary scholarly community. The College has a strong tutorial system and is one of very few Durham colleges to have academic research staff based within it.

St Chad’s students are motivated to be high achievers, and regularly secure the highest academic results among the Durham colleges. Around their studies, they are encouraged to take part in programmes to promote volunteering and service in the wider community and region, especially where there is disadvantage, and to support the College in its outreach with schools to raise educational aspiration in children and young people, so that as in the past they consider coming to Durham and St Chad’s.

Outside undergraduate term‐time, St Chad’s runs a full programme of commercial events, hospitality, and conferences. St Chad’s is committed to delivering the highest possible standards of service to all its stakeholders.

At August 31st 2021, the net assets of the College, including its historic buildings, stood at £13.8m and annual income was £2.3m.

Our Objects

The objects of the College, according to our Articles of Association, are:

  • to advance education, learning, religion and research in accordance with the principles of the Church of England; and
  • to provide a College for scholars and students of the University of Durham in which they may work for degrees and other qualifications of the University with particular regard to advancing their education, and their spiritual and personal wellbeing.

Our Vision

To be a hospitable, supportive, challenging community of learning which inspires and educates our members to contribute with imagination towards a sustainable and just present and future for our world.

Our Mission

Working together as a warm, reflective community which sustains an outstanding collegiate experience, we promote academic excellence and whole person development. In a context of unprecedented global challenges, we aim to encourage intellectual curiosity and thoughtful hope as we explore how to live more sustainably and equip our members to make a positive social impact.

Our Values

As an independent college within Durham University, we are defined by our founding commitment to justice, inclusion and service, shaped and inspired by our Anglican roots and our home in the North East region. We seek to live with integrity as a community which includes people of all faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds.

The Governors

The Governors constitute the Legal Members of the College. They are the Members of the Association and Company that is St Chad’s College. They are thus Trustees of the registered charity, and directors of the limited company. By the Articles of Association, the Governors are drawn from across the wider College community and its stakeholders, being nominated by the northern dioceses of the Church of England, the academic staff of the University, the Fellows and Tutors of the College, the undergraduate and postgraduate student bodies, or elected from among the alumni and wider society. The Principal is a governor ex officio. Together, the Governors act as the oversight board for the St Chad’s community and employees, its work, strategy, wellbeing, property and finances.

Governors, including the Chair, are required to act at all times in the best interests of the College (even if nominated by groups within College, or by the University, or a sponsoring Diocese), and regardless of any other interest.  More information on the College composition and the responsibilities of the College Governors is available on the Governors’ Portal. Of particular note are the following:

  • Expectations of Governors(the general governors’ job description)
  • Induction & Training
  • The Essential Trustee
  • The Memorandum and Articles of Association and the College Statutes
  • The College Strategy
  • The Memorandum of Understanding with Durham University
  • Guidance on accountability set out by the Charity Commission, the National Audit Office and the Office for Students

Responsibilities of the Chair


  1. To be the leader of the College in its governance, serving a five-year term, with a possible extension for a further three years
  2. To support and keep under review the College Vision, Values and Strategic Framework in consultation with the Principal, and to ensure the College is continuing to realise its objectives and foundational values as set out in the Memorandum of Association
  3. To exemplify the College’s commitment to social justice and inclusion, mutual respect, and service; and representing a vibrant intellectually curious and diverse, thoughtful community.
  4. To support the Principal in moving the strategy and vision into implementation, especially as the College adapts to new challenges and opportunities, and to support the College’s significant fund-raising needs and development
  5. To support and promote the foundational objects and values of the College, including the practice of its Anglican ethos and heritage, even if his or her own faith position is different, and to work with the Rector (the titular and religious head of the College foundation, who takes no part in governance), should matters arise that touch on the Anglican foundation and purposes of the College
  6. To ensure the good, transparent and engaging governance of the College through the recruitment of a strong, skilled and diverse group of Governors
  7. To oversee and review the implementation of the College’s governing documents and statutes, as well as the Governors’ policies and regulations
  8. To chair and manage four meetings of the Governors each year, and extraordinary meetings as needed, as well as the meetings of the Chair’s Committee, the Remuneration and Nominations Committees
  9. To set the agenda, dates and timings for meetings of Governors, working with the Secretary and the Principal
  10. To encourage the active participation of all Governors at meetings, especially the student Governors from the Junior and Middle Common Rooms, and generally to understand the skills of Governors and facilitate their participation in the work of the College and the Governors’ committees
  11. To oversee the development and training available for the Governors (especially statutory training, e.g. for Safeguarding), such as arrangements for online resources and occasional Away Days, and to lead by example
  12. To participate in the meetings of the Governors’ Finance, Audit, Estate and Development committees, working in consultation with their respective Chairs
  13. To chair as needed College tribunals or panels to attend to discipline, grievances, recruitment, or specific projects

Line Management of the Principal

  1. To be responsible for the line management of the Principal on behalf of the Governors, conducting the Principal’s annual appraisal; and, less formally, to act as a personal support for and critical friend of the Principal, keeping in touch at least twice a month by phone, or video calls, or in person, as well as through regular correspondence around needs and tasks as they arise
  2. To maintain the boundaries between governance and management, and both to encourage and challenge the College Officers and Governors.

Visible Leadership

  1. To be present in the College at least twice a term, wherever possible, especially to attend major events
  2. To be available to the Principal and senior staff, and to be contactable immediately by phone, or able to come to Durham as appropriate, in the event of a serious crisis
  3. To be known and visible to the undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as the staff in general, and to engage with the College community to increase understanding of the work of the Governors

External Engagement

  1. To be an ambassador of the College
  2. To be engaged in the relationship with Durham University, particularly around the review of the Memorandum of Understanding and Financial Agreement, as the College pursues its complementary but distinctive strategy
  3. To engage with the alumni community in their continuing support of the College, especially at events and in promoting the College’s development objectives
  4. To be able to demonstrate to stakeholders in the University, the Church, the College’s staff, student and alumni networks, as well as wider civil society, especially in the North East, that the governance of the College as an independent educational institution and charity is sound and that the Governors act in the best interests of the College and for wider public benefit
  5. To support and engage with the College’s strategic commitment to the civic, social, voluntary, cultural and economic life and development of the North East of England, bringing to bear a broader national and even international perspective.

The Chair of Governors is entitled to accommodation if needed and subsistence at the College for the purposes of fulfilling the duties of office, and also the reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred on College business on production of the relevant receipts and vouchers to the Director of Finance & Operations, and always providing that these expenses may not be claimed from any other source.

Personal Specification


  1. Skill and experience in chairing meetings
  2. Broad experience of life and working at a senior level in public, private, educational or charitable sectors
  3. Ability to engage with people across sectors
  4. Personal reflection of the College’s values in voluntary, public or wider-benefit service
  5. A proven commitment to the delivery of social justice, safeguarding, respect for the person, equality, diversity and inclusion
  6. Financially astute with experience of managing programmes and overseeing budgets, comparable with an institution at the scale of St Chad’s College
  7. Able to take a strategic overview of institutional change and development
  8. An inclusive personal style, with experience of facilitating participation with individuals and groups from differing backgrounds
  9. Education to first degree level, or professional equivalent
  10. As an ex officio Fellow of the College and its presiding governor, credibility with the University in pursuit of its academic purpose


  1. A track record in governance in any of the spheres of charity, education, the Church, business, or other public service
  2. Postgraduate degree or professional training or equivalent standing, of demonstrable experience of leadership in public service, or business, or industry, or civil voluntary society, of the Church, or an equivalent field
  3. Experience of management and leadership at a senior management level of an organisation of scale and complexity equivalent to St Chad’s, in order to support the Principal effectively
  4. Familiarity with the provision of higher education and research
  5. Awareness of the support and development of young people

Fr Mark Woodruff

Chair of Governors

St Chad’s College, University of Durham

1 October 2023