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Council is the main policy-making body of the University, with responsibility for planning its work and managing its resources. This update is the first in a regular series that looks at key issues and highlights from each meeting.

The latest meeting of Council took place at Storey’s Field, Eddington, on 14 October.

In his oral report to Council, the Vice-Chancellor mentioned the recent award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Professor Didier Queloz (Physics, Trinity College), the forthcoming launch of Cambridge Zero – the University of Cambridge Zero Carbon Future Initiative, and ongoing work on the Vice-Chancellor’s programmes of action.

Among the agenda items discussed was the Review of Council Effectiveness, commissioned by Council and facilitated by Alice Perkins CB.

Overall, members of the Council agreed that the Council’s workings had improved over the past 18 months. Among the issues identified by the review were:

  • The need for more open and frequent public communications about Council’s business
  • The need to clarify the role of the Council and its members, and review the terms of reference for some of its committees
  • The need to rebalance Council’s business, allowing it to better concentrate on strategic matters
  • The need to build trust and improve relationships between members of Council and University officers to ensure continuity.

Dr Ellen Quigley, Interim Adviser on Responsible Investment to the Chief Financial Officer, presented a progress update on her Report on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Divestment.  

Currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Endowment Asset Management at the Judge Business School, a research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, and a founder of Positive Investment Cambridge, Dr Quigley updated Council on the report commissioned in response to the Grace 1 of 25 April 2019.

Members of Council discussed and welcomed the progress report, and voted in favour of the proposal to join the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and the Responsible Investment Network.

The Council also discussed the annual report from the University’s Development and Alumni Relations office. Ms Alison Traub, Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations, offered an overview of the fundraising and alumni engagement activities undertaken by the office during the 2018-19 academic year. She singled out the gift by David and Claudia Harding, and the gift by a donor for a video campaign to help with widening access.

Council members welcomed and discussed the report.

Further information about the work of the Council and its committees is available via the University’s governance hub.


25 October 2019