Gas company chief James Ross has been appointed the first chairman of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.
Mr Ross, 65, chairman of gas-piping company National Grid Transco, will head the foundation, which aims to develop skills for leaders in higher education. The foundation will be launched in the spring.
Mr Ross became a non-executive director and deputy chairman of Transco in March 1999 and became chairman in July 1999. He was chairman of Littlewoods from 1996 until April 2002 and chief executive of Cable and Wireless from 1992-95. Before that, Mr Ross spent 30 years at British Petroleum.
He is also a non-executive director of two US firms - McGraw-Hill and Datacard, as well as Schneider Electric in France. Mr Ross, who studied modern history at Jesus College, Oxford, and also attended Manchester Business School, said he was delighted with the challenge of leading the foundation's board.
The foundation was created by Universities UK and the Standing Committee of Principals. The UK's four regional funding bodies have contributed £10 million for the first three years of the foundation. Its remit includes identifying best practice and commissioning tailormade development courses in management and governance.
The board members are: David Allen, registrar and secretary, Exeter University; Raman Bedi, chief dental officer, Department of Health; Antony Chapman, vice-chancellor, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff; Ivor Crewe, vice-chancellor, Essex University and president, UUK; Tariq Durrani OBE, deputy principal, Strathclyde University; Roderick Floud, vice-chancellor, London Metropolitan University; Diana Green, vice-chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University; Ron Haylock, president of council, Nottingham University; Sara Parkin, programme director, Forum for the Future; Katharine Perera, senior pro vice-chancellor, Manchester University; Joan Stringer, vice-chancellor, Napier University; Pam Taylor, principal, Newman College of Higher Education.