New Chair of the Academy sought from Summer 2015

June 12, 2014

Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE FAcSS will retire by rotation as Chair of Council at next year’s AGM (i.e. 2015). The Academy’s Appointments Committee is currently engaged in seeking a replacement and welcomes both suggestions of others who may be appropriate and also now self-nominations.

A Job Description and Person Specification is listed below and can also be downloaded as a pdf suitable for emailing HERE.

If you wish to suggest a name – or put yourself forward – please email the Executive Director, Stephen Anderson. Please put ‘New Chair of Council’ as the subject line.


Job Description for the Chair of Council


The Academy of Social Sciences is The National Academy of Academics, Learned Societies and Practitioners in the Social Sciences. It exists to be the voice of the social sciences in the UK for the public benefit. It is a membership-based organisation and comprises 46 learned societies and 900 individual Fellows. There are a small number of Affiliate members too.

The Academy publishes a Journal, Contemporary Social Science, andan occasional paper series called ‘Professional Briefings’,organises conferences and events, responds to consultations, and participates in public discussions on issues affecting the social sciences. It engages in comment and discussion via social media on a daily basis. Some membership events follow a regular pattern and provide networking opportunities. The social highlight is the President’s Lunch in December each year.

The Academy’s governance structure comprises a President, Chair, Council, various committees of Council and a small, paid, mostly part-time administrative team of six, headed by the Executive Director.

The Chair of Council is currently Professor Cary Cooper CBE FAcSS. Professor Cooper was appointed at the AGM in June 2009.

The President is Professor Sir Ivor Crewe FAcSS, Master of University College, Oxford and a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Essex. Sir Ivor was appointed on 1st January this year in succession to Professor Sir Howard Newby FAcSS, Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool.

The Executive Director is Stephen Anderson, who was appointed in April 2008.

The Academy operates from a small rented, administrative office, currently at 30 Tabernacle Street, London EC2. The landlord is the British Psychological Society.

How the role has arisen

Professor Cooper retires by rotation at the AGM in 2015, which will be held in early July. By then he will have served the maximum of two 3-year terms in the role.

Job Description

The Chair is a member of Council which is the Academy’s governing body. The Chair is responsible for chairing meetings of the Council.

Constitutionally, there are twenty one members of Council. Seven members are elected by the body of individual Fellows, seven by the member learned societies and seven are appointed on recommendation of an Appointments Committee.

The Appointments Committee is chaired by Professor Michael Harloe FAcSS, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford. It is this committee which is overseeing the search and selection processes to recommend a new Chair to Council.

There are 4 meetings of Council a year, plus an AGM (chaired by the President).

The Chair of Council also chairs the Executive Committee, which broadly meets bi-monthly or as the need arises. Mostly, these are now telephone based meetings.

The Chair of Council also chairs the quarterly meetings of the Chief Officers and Chief Executives of the Academy’s member learned societies, as well as hosting an annual meeting of Chairs of learned societies.

In line with charity best practice, the Chair of Council is a non-executive position. The role of the Council is to agree policy and monitor and review the performance of the Executive and the Executive Director in delivering the strategy. The Chair of Council chairs both the Council and the Executive, but does not direct either body.

The Chair of Council engages with the Executive Director and other members of the administrative team on a virtually daily basis and provides advice on a range of operational issues. Decision making on such matters, when required, is mostly done on a consensual, collegiate basis with other senior colleagues and a very regular discussion of issues by telephone and especially email is a feature of the way the Academy works in practice between Council meetings.

The Academy is both a registered charity and an incorporated company limited by guarantee. Council members sit both as trustees and company directors.

Strategic Background

The Academy was established in 1999. Its roots were in the Association of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences (ALSISS), which was set up as a defensive body in the 1980s.

In recent years, the Academy has raised its sights and in 2011 sponsored the setting up and launch of the Campaign for Social Science (CfSS) as a semi-autonomous entity within the Academy’s infrastructure. The purpose was to raise the public profile of the social sciences, particularly in relation to public policy making. Broadly, it is modelled on the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) which was set up nearly 30 years ago and has been successful in making science strategic in public policy terms.

The Campaign has its own governance structure, but the Chair, currently Professor James Wilsdon, is required (by appointment) to be a member of Council, which also nominates two other members of the Campaign’s Board.

The activities of the CfSS are set out more fully on the Campaign website:

The CfSS has been able to access sources of funding mostly not available to the Academy. A full list of sponsors can be found here: although this is changing all the time.

The lines of demarcation between the Academy and the Campaign have been clarified recently. Broadly, the Academy comments on professional issues eg OA, while the Campaign comments on the public understanding of social science. Inevitability, there are some areas of overlap eg the futures of the census, but there is a proper working out of these matters so as not to cause organisational overlap.

In 2012, Council adopted a Vision Statement and accompanying Objectives for achievement by 2022. They can be found here:

In 2013, Council adopted the strapline of The National Academy of Academics, Learned Societies and Practitioners in the Social Sciences to reflect its positional aspirations. A key requirement is to give substance to that expression in the years ahead. Ultimately the goal is to stand comparison with the other four national academies and gain formal recognition by Government of this status.

The Academy is also seeking to extend its international links and to support the special interest group that is drawing up a code of principles for research integrity.

The usual daily administrative tasks that are to be undertaken are carried out well and on a timely basis by a small, competent and motivated office resources team.

The Academy has to manage carefully the success and impact of achieving its objectives, with the income required to sustain the position. Volunteers, of course, play a key role in raising the Academy’s operational capability beyond the administrative infrastructure. Currently a small number of Council members give very willingly and freely of their time and energy. The Chair’s role is to encourage participation and engagement by all Council members.

Operational Priorities

For the period ahead, these are:

  1. To raise the Academy’s influence with Government and on public policy. and to further the public understanding of social science.
  1. To work towards gaining formal recognition as The National Academy of Academics, Learned Societies and Practitioners in the Social Sciences.
  1. To continue the Academy’s internationalisation agenda, by recruitment of Fellows and Learned Societies based overseas and to engage world wide on globally important social scientific issues eg Open Access. Increasing activity with the EC is a particular objective within this broader remit.
  1. To engage further with practitioners on matters that concern them particularly and to nominate larger numbers into membership and gain their active participation in the life of the Academy.
  1. Because Fellows are necessarily senior in their careers, to find ways and means to reach out to a younger generation of social scientists and ensure their participation.
  1. To encourage the establishment and activities of local groupings of Fellows, perhaps following the model of the groups which operate in Oxford and now Manchester.

Key Requirements

The key requirements of the Chair are therefore to:

  1. Give leadership to the Academy in undertaking its core mission
  2. Give support, in particular, to current operational priorities
  3. Promote the Academy to a variety of external audiences
  4. To be the premier public voice of the Academy
  5. Encourage greater participation by members and to mobilise volunteers
  6. Facilitate the growth of the membership base on a net basis.
  7. Chair meetings to encourage participation and engagement, while meeting time constraints. Meetings generally now do not exceed 2 hours in length.

Person Specification

  1. Able to shape and embody the Academy’s vision
  2. Presence and stature to represent the Academy externally
  3. Know their way around government
  4. Having themselves a distinguished academic or public profile as a social scientist with immediate credibility from being accomplished in their chosen field.
  5. Able to represent and consider the wide diversity of social science disciplines and, in turn, to be respected by them. Similarly, able to span both the academic and practitioner communities and command the confidence of both
  6. Knowledgeable of the main issues affecting the social sciences
  7. Collegiate, consensual style, able to build support for decision making
  8. Focused at the strategic issues and not wish to micro manage the supporting detail.
  9. Innovative and commercial, willing to prompt and promote new approaches to mission fulfilment and fund raising.
  10. Have widespread experience of Chairing meetings.

The time requirement is variable, but equivalent to about 4 full working days a month, spread out over the working week. However, Council intends to appoint a Deputy Chair and some sharing and reduction in workload from the current level can be anticipated. The successful candidate will be closely involved in these discussions.

The position is unremunerated. However, legitimate expenses incurred in carrying out the role are paid in accordance with the Academy’s policies.

For candidates without their own office support, a small Secretariat support facility can be made available to attend to administrative matters.

This is an exciting time to be joining the Academy. The current Chair and team have worked hard over the past few years to put the Academy on a sound financial footing. Solid gains have been achieved over the past 5 years, not only in terms of the finances, but also in the areas of influence, reputation, membership and infrastructure support and by leading it to further develop its mission across many and varied fronts. This is a high profile role internally and externally.


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