The CDBU was founded in November 2012. We have a long and distinguished list of 66 founding members, which includes Nobel prize winners, members of the House of Lords, several former vice-chancellors and cabinet members, and many world-famous scientists and literary figures. Click here to see the full list.

The day-to-day running of the CDBU is managed by an executive committee:

Professor Anne Sheppard (chair)  is professor emerita of ancient philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has twice served as head of classics at Royal Holloway and has also been an academic staff member of the college’s council and in that capacity participated in a review of the college’s statutes.

Professor Dorothy Bishop is a professor of developmental neuropsychology at the University of Oxford. She conducts a programme of research into developmental language disorders. She also has an interest in communication of science and academic issues via social media.

Professor Susan Bruce is Professor of English at Keele and co-Chair of Keele’s EDI steering group. She is co-Chair of the Arts and Humanities Alliance and a former Chair of University English.  She has written on a range of topics, including utopias, photography, literature and memory, TV medical drama and the NHS, and Brexit.

Professor Andrea Cornwall is Professor of Global Development and Anthropology and Pro-Director (Research & Enterprise) at SOAS, University of London. She’s written on the politics and paradoxes of participation, citizenship, empowerment and rights. 

Professor Aneez Esmail is a Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester where he has served on its Governing Body and is a member of its Senate. He continues to work as an NHS GP. 

Dr Jon Hall (secretary) is a senior lecturer at the Open University. 

Professor John Holmwood is professor emeritus at the University of Nottingham. He was president of the British Sociological Association in 2012-14. He was co-founder of the Campaign for the Public University in 2010 and has written widely on higher education, as well as on the Trojan Horse affair and the alleged plot to Islamise schools in Birmingham. 

Professor James Ladyman is a professor of philosophy at the University of Bristol and works primarily in philosophy of science. 

Dr Eric Lybeck is a Presidential Academic Fellow in the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. A historical sociologist of universities, he researches interactions between states, universities, professions and cities in Germany, America and Britain since 1800. He is editor-in-chief of the journal, www.civicsociology.org, a member of www.ussbriefs.com, and on academic senate at Manchester.

Dr Sean McMahon FGS FRAS is a Chancellor’s Fellow in Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in microbial palaeobiology and the search for life on Mars. He has studied or conducted research at five other universities (Oxford, Aberdeen, Yale, Durham, and London).

Professor Fabrice Pierron  is a professor of solid mechanics in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton since 2012, when he moved from his previous position at Arts et Métiers ParisTech in France. His research interests lie in the development of image-based mechanical testing of materials.

Professor Julian Preece 

Dr Kelli Rudolph is a senior lecturer in Classics and Philosophy and Head of the Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies at the University of Kent. Her research focuses on Presocratic and Stoic philosophy, and her interests in higher education policy centre on issues related to academic freedom, self-governance and equal access.

Professor Mark Tibbett

Dr Milly Williamson 

Dr Alison Wood

David Wolton is a publisher and long-term charity organiser.

Dr Natalie Zacek is Senior Lecturer in American Studies, and is a historian of colonial and antebellum America and the Caribbean. Her interests in higher education policy are the result of her teaching experiences in a variety of national and disciplinary settings.

We also have a board of trustees responsible for the governance of the CDBU. They are:

Dr Rowan Williams (chair)

Professor Karin Barber

Lord Bew

Sir David Edward

Simon Head

Dr Tim Horder

Professor Howard Hotson

Lord Morgan

Dame Jinty Nelson

Sir Peter Scott 

Sir Keith Thomas 

David Wolton



You can download our Terms of Reference here (March 2021)