Hull College names National Leader of Governance and former newspaper editor as new chair

Rob Lawson will succeed Lesley Davies

A former newspaper editor and current National Leader of Governance has been appointed as the new chair of Hull College.

Rob Lawson will start in the role tomorrow, succeeding Lesley Davies following the conclusion of her 20-month term.

Lawson will lead the college alongside chief executive Debra Gray who joined in April and became the college’s sixth leader in two years. The appointments follow a troublesome period that involved FE Commissioner intervention, an investigation into spending at the college, and the closing down of the college’s Goole campus.

Over the past few years the college has appointed a raft of new governors and conducted a review of its governance led by a National Leader of Governance (NLG).

‘I’m tremendously excited to have been appointed’

Lawson is a former editor of the Sunderland Echo and Shields Gazette. In 2013 he became chair of Sunderland College where he spent the next eight years. During this time the college went through multiple mergers to form the Education Partnership North East (EPNE), operating in Sunderland, Northumberland and Hartlepool.

Lawson was named as an NLG in January 2020. NLGs are a group of experienced governance professionals who provide mentoring and peer-to-peer improvement support colleges. They are paid £350 a day.

He was also awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List for services to FE ahead of joining the board of the RNN Group in July 2021.

Lawson said: “I’m tremendously excited to have been appointed and can’t wait to get started. I know what an inspirational leader Debra Gray is and I can see she has assembled a senior team brimming with talent and ambition.

“Lesley Davies has worked incredibly hard to get governance on track and the college has a genuinely exciting future ahead. I thank Lesley for her dedication and determination, and for giving me this amazing opportunity.”

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