A Leeds alumnus has been appointed as the next Pro-Chancellor of the University.
A lawyer by background, with a strong track record in leadership in education and social mobility issues, Alastair Da Costa will assume the role of Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council – the University’s governing body – from 1 August 2022 for an initial period of three years.
He replaces outgoing Pro-Chancellor David Gray who, on completion of his current term of office in July 2022, will have held the post for nine years.
As a law graduate, the University of Leeds gave me the foundation upon which to build my career. That encapsulates the life-changing potential of universities.
Alastair Da Costa said: “As a law graduate, the University of Leeds gave me the foundation upon which to build my career. That encapsulates the life-changing potential of universities. I am thrilled to be able to give something back now by taking on this role, particularly at such a pivotal time, as Leeds implements its ambitious 10 year strategy.”
David Gray said: “It has been a privilege to serve as Pro-Chancellor for nearly nine years now, during which time the University has gone through immense change, while steadfastly sticking to its core task of improving lives and life chances through research and education. I wish Alastair the very best – he takes up this role at a confident university, with a clear sense of its future direction and mission.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk added: “I can’t wait to work with Alastair on implementing our vision to be a truly values-driven university, with an unwavering commitment to driving change in the world and addressing inequalities, helping create a fairer future for all. I also thank David for his exceptional support and wise counsel since I took up the role in September 2020. He will be missed.”
We were fortunate to attract a very strong field, but the committee was united in its view that Alastair will be an exceptional Pro-Chancellor.
Deputy Pro-Chancellor, Ed Anderson, who chaired the nominating committee, said: “We were fortunate to attract a very strong field, but the committee was united in its view that Alastair will be an exceptional Pro-Chancellor. He has a clear vision of the purpose of universities in broader society and the role good governance has to play in that, alongside a background which speaks to multiple elements of the brief, and a personal connection to the University and the city.”
Alastair Da Costa has a career spanning law, education, not-for-profit and professional services. He has been a Partner and Executive Board Member with the intellectual property specialists HGF Group, and previously had a long career with the international law firm DLA Piper, where he was a Partner, Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Emerging Markets, and a global board member.
He has also had extensive non-executive experience, with a focus on social mobility and education. He is currently Chair of Capital City College Group, one of the largest further education college groups in the UK; he is a director and Chair of digital education business 01 Founders; he is currently a board member of The London School of Economics and Political Science; and he was appointed a Commissioner to the UK Government’s Social Mobility Commission, which aims to address social mobility challenges. He was also previously a Council member at the University of Sussex.
He has always maintained strong links with the city and was the Deputy-Chair and Director at Marketing Leeds/Leeds and Partners, where he helped set up the first marketing and inward investment company for the city, working closely with the city council; and was Chair of Leeds Finance Limited, the financial services membership and lobbying organisation for the Leeds City region. He is also a board member and Chair of the Leeds Rugby Union Football Club Ltd (Leeds Tykes).
Alastair is also a mentor on the Leeds Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme, supporting final year students to develop leadership skills, confidence and communication skills needed as they plan their futures.
Members of the Council are trustees of the University. The Council is committed to upholding the highest standards of corporate governance, as well as meeting the obligations placed on the University as an exempt charity and body in receipt of public funds. The Council has a responsibility to promote the University's wellbeing and to ensure its sustainability.