Executive Group

Our Convener, Vice-Convener and Director play key roles in the strategic direction of the organisation

Convener: Professor Andrea Nolan OBE

Our Convener, Professor Andrea Nolan OBE determines our priorities for the term of her two-year office, she chairs the Main Committee meeting of all Principals and identifies and builds consensus within the sector.

Andrea was elected to the role of Convener by her peers and took up the position from 1 August 2016.

Andrea is passionate about widening participation and will lead the sector’s response to the Commission for Widening Access in her capacity as US Convener. Andrea has been deeply involved in quality enhancement and enhancement themes in university teaching through membership and Convenership of the Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee. She has played a key role in Universities Scotland in driving forward policy on research excellence and impactful research and innovation. This is an area she remains invested in as Convener and as a member of the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Review Group chaired by Economy Secretary, Keith Brown MSP. Andrea will oversee the sector’s role in Brexit and energetically pursue the sector’s objectives of continued collaboration and free movement of talent and ideas across Europe.

Andrea previously convened Universities Scotland’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee.

Andrea-Nolan-Edinburgh-Napier

Key Facts

  • Principal of: Edinburgh Napier University
  • Route into university: With the support of her parents and highly motivated and inspiring school teachers, Andrea was among the first generation in her family to go to university.
  • Academic specialism:  Veterinary Pharmacology
  • Career profile: Andrea became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University in July 2013 following a range of leadership roles in the University of Glasgow. After a short time in veterinary practice, Andrea embarked on an academic career which took her to the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol and the Technical University of Munich. She was appointed Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology in 1998 and is an established research leader in the field of animal pain.
Read more about Professor Andrea Nolan

Before joining Edinburgh Napier University as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University in July 2013 Andrea held a range of leadership roles in the University of Glasgow including Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (1999 – 2004), Vice Principal for Learning & Teaching (2004 – 2009) and Senior Vice-Principal & Deputy Vice Chancellor (2009 – 2013).
Andrea graduated as a veterinary surgeon from Trinity College Dublin and after a short time in veterinary practice, embarked on an academic career which took her to the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol and the Technical University of Munich. She was appointed Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology in 1998 and is an established research leader in the field of animal pain. Andrea is a board member of the following: Higher Education Statistics Agency, Universities and Colleges Employers Association, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Board, Interface Advisory Board and the Moredun Foundation. Andrea is also a Trustee for Medical Research Scotland, for two animal welfare charities,  and is a member of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Council.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and an honorary life member of the Association for Veterinary Teachers & Research Workers.
Andrea was awarded an honorary OBE in 2013.

Vice Convener: Professor Gerry McCormac

Professor Gerry McCormac was elected Vice Convener to serve from 2 August 2016 for a two year term.

The Vice Convener is elected every two years by his fellow Principals. Together the two roles help to achieve broad representation across a diverse sector.

Gerry has previously served on Universities Scotland’s Funding Policy Group.

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Key Facts

  • Principal of: the University of Stirling
  • Route into university: Gerry is one of the first generation in his family to attend university.
  • Academic specialism: Space Physics, Carbon Dating, Climate Change.
  • Career profile: Professor McCormac became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling in May 2010. He is a scientist with research interests in both space physics and carbon dating.
Read more about Professor Gerry McCormac

Professor Gerry McCormac became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling in May 2010.  He has a science background and has conducted research in both Space Physics and Carbon Dating.  At the University of Michigan, he worked on the NASA Dynamics Explorer satellite programme. He subsequently became Director of the high-precision carbon dating facility at Queen’s University Belfast, where he undertook research into global carbon cycling and the dating of historic monuments.

He was Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast from 2001 to 2010, where he had responsibility for Academic and Financial Planning, Economic Development and External Affairs.  He served on the Northern Ireland (NI) Committee of the Institute of Directors, the NI Economic Development Forum, the NI Science and Industry Panel (MATRIX) and the boards of both the NI Science Park and Business in the Community.  He was a Director and Chair of the Management Board of Queen’s University’s commercialisation company, QUBIS.  In 2015/16 he served as an advisor to the NI Government during the merger of departments that created the Department for the Economy (DfE).

He is currently Vice-Convener of Universities Scotland Main Committee, a board member of UCEA, chairman of the UCEA Scottish Committee, and a Trustee of the Carnegie Trust.  He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and the Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Manufacturers (FRSA). He chaired a review of teacher employment in Scotland for the Scottish Government in 2011.

 

Director: Alastair Sim

Alastair Sim has been our Director since July 2009, joining from the Scottish Civil Service. The Director has chief executive responsibility for the management of the organisation.

Since 2009 he has navigated the sector through two Scottish election, two general elections, two referendums, several spending reviews and a funding gap.

As a senior civil servant, Alastair developed new Scottish legislation on protection of the natural environment and on constitutional reform and was most latterly Director of Policy and Strategy at the Scottish Courts before joining Universities Scotland.

Alastair holds degrees from Oxford, Delaware and Glasgow universities. He has had two thrillers published: Rosslyn Blood (2004) and The Unbelievers (2009).

Alastair Sim