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Chair - Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods

Roberta Blackman Woods
  • Board of Governors – Chair  
  • Employment and Finance Committee - Member   
  • Nominations Committee - Chair  
  • Strategic Performance Committee - Member  
  • Remunerations Committee - Member  
  • Senior Posts Appointment Committee - Member
  • Honorary Awards Committee - Member


Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods has been Chair of the Board of Governors since 1 August 2020.

Roberta  has recently stepped down as a Member of Parliament, having been the MP for the City of Durham since 2005.  During her time in parliament Roberta served as a Deputy Minister  in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where she was involved in shaping higher education policy.  Since 2010 she has been the Shadow Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Roberta helped establish the Westminster Higher Education Forum and the Higher Education Commission and has chaired the Parliamentary University Group for several years, a forum where Vice-Chancellors and other senior university officers discuss policy and strategic issues with parliamentarians and ministers.

At an international level Roberta has been an active member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and has made extensive use of these networks to support global education initiatives and foster better parliamentary governance. She has also been the Vice-Chair of the United Nations APPG for a number of years.

Her career before entering parliament included working in social services at Newcastle City Council and as a social policy academic at the University of Ulster and the University of Newcastle. She was Dean of Social and Labour Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and a Head of School and Associate Dean at Northumbria University.

Having worked in the North East for many years as well as being a local councillor and MP, Roberta has excellent relationships with leaders in the North East region in business, industry, education, culture and politics. She is committed to the development of the region and what the talent and skills of the people offer for the future prosperity of the country.

Roberta has a strong belief in the power of universities not only to transform individual lives but transform communities and societies too. She believes the research, innovation and knowledge exchange they undertake are essential for the creation of new jobs and whole new sectors of the economy. She also greatly values the role universities play in educating  and growing leaders of the future.

Her goal as Chair of the Board at Northumbria University is to support and challenge the senior team  to take the University forward as a major player in the sector and globally, realising this potential with its excellent and distinctive mission, its highly engaged colleagues and successful students.

Roberta has maintained close links with Northumbria over many years including as a Visiting Professor and she is genuinely excited by the opportunity to contribute to its future success as Chair of the Board.

You can view Roberta's latest Chair's Update here.

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