News & Events

31 July 2023

Changing Chairs - in gratitude to our outgoing Chair, Sara Grote Cerrell and introducing our new Chair, Professor Sir David Eastwood’

Every three to four years, leadership of the Board alternates between US and UK chairs. We have arrived at such a moment, and it’s with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to our American Chair Sara Grote Cerrell, who has served more than two terms as a trustee, including nearly four years as chair. A stalwart of Anglo-American relations, Sara is a champion of the value of educational exchange. She’s been at the helm since March 2020, as we launched and executed our 2020-2023 strategy, leading alongside fellow trustees and Executive Director Maria Balinska through Covid and our 75th anniversary, and delivering on our two top priorities: widening participation in our programme through inclusive excellence and supporting our community of changemakers to address global challenges.

During Sara’s term as chair, the Commission grew by 30%, increasing access to scholarships for all talented individuals, irrespective of their backgrounds and financial circumstances, and ushering in programmatic innovations like our first-ever transatlantic virtual teaching awards on global challenges and our new Stephen Lawrence Award examining race in policing. This success has been endorsed by alumnus and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his recent announcement at the White House of a sizeable increase in government funding for additional fully funded UK postgraduate awards and ongoing support for our virtual exchange programme, the Global Challenges Teaching Awards.

Reflecting on her tenure and by way of introducing our new chair, Sara said:

“It has been a privilege to serve on the US-UK Board over the last seven years. I am very proud of the impact realised during this time and of ’s 75-year history of transforming lives through educational exchange. The UK Commission is at a pivotal moment of innovation and expansion as we dial up our role in addressing global challenges and ensure our grants are accessible to talented people of diverse backgrounds at all stages of their academic and professional lives. I am honoured to pass the baton to Professor Sir David Eastwood, a leading figure in UK higher education and the right person to guide ’s next phase of growth.”

Professor Sir David Eastwood will take up his post as UK chair from September as we head into the new academic year, spearheading our strategic priorities alongside the team at the Commission. His notable career in higher education has included over twelve years as Vice Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, a term as Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and chairing bodies as diverse as the Universities Superannuation Scheme, The Russell Group, Universitas 21, and the University and Colleges Admissions Service. He was knighted in 2014 for services to education and appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands in 2012, carving a place for himself as one of Birmingham’s adopted sons.  With an academic specialism in 18th-19th Century history, and an academic career that saw him as Fellow and Senior Tutor at Pembroke College, Oxford, he’s well placed to understand the Commission’s unique role and value in maintaining the ‘special relationship’ between our two countries.

David commented on his appointment, I am honoured and delighted to be succeeding Sara Cerrell as chair of the . The opportunities for students, scholars and professionals facilitated by our schemes have never been more important or exciting. I am looking forward to working with a wonderful team to sustain and enrich 's unique contribution to higher education in our countries.”

David’s appointment comes at a crucial time for the Commission, building on the significant growth that we’ve seen under Sara’s leadership and as we look toward the future, scaling our role at the vanguard of international education. David will have a significant influence as we widen participation in our programme, award grants that confront the key concerns of our time and build a sustainable infrastructure for the next 75 years. This is an exciting time for the Commission, and we look forward to involving you in this work all along the way.