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Board for Peterborough's new university is announced

Published: 23 March 2022 at 10:06

Rob Behrens CBE

National ombudsman Rob Behrens CBE will chair ARU Peterborough’s Board of Governors

Senior public servant Rob Behrens CBE will Chair ARU Peterborough’s Board of Governors, which has now been formalised ahead of the new university opening its doors in September.

Mr Behrens has been Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in the UK since 2017. Earlier in his career, he was a Cabinet Office civil servant working on international public service reform and standards in public life. During this time he was personally thanked by Nelson Mandela for his contribution to the construction of a post-apartheid public service in South Africa.  

He was awarded a CBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for his services to higher education, having been the independent adjudicator for the sector in England and Wales since 2008.

Joining Mr Behrens on the Board of Governors are several prominent figures from the public and private sector. 

Among the new Board members are Chief Nurse of North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Joanne Bennis; Group Chief Executive Officer at Amino Communications, Donald McGarva; prominent educationalist and deputy chair of ARU’s Board of Governors, Dr Margaret Wilson; Executive Director for Place and Economy at Peterborough City Council, Adrian Chapman; Chief Executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Eileen Milner; and Chartered accountant Bill Gregory, who has 25 years of experience as a director of finance in healthcare for acute hospital, mental health and community service organisations. 

A student member will also join the board, along with key members of ARU staff. These include Vice Chancellor Professor Roderick Watkins, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor Yvonne Barnett, and ARU’s Head of School for Psychology and Sport Science, Dr Helen Keyes.

Rob Behrens CBE said:

“The establishment of ARU Peterborough is a significant moment for higher education in England, and particularly for the city of Peterborough. It is an honour to be taking on the role of Chair of the Board of Governors, and I am excited to be working with the rest of the Board to establish ARU Peterborough as an ambitious, forward-thinking institution that will transform lives and increase skills levels across the region.”


Professor Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, said:

“The new Board of Governors for ARU Peterborough has been chosen carefully to ensure that the new university gets off to the best possible start. 

“I am delighted to welcome all Board members and look forward to working with them. They will play a vital role in the establishment of ARU Peterborough, using their diverse skills and experience to maximise opportunities for all.”


ARU Peterborough is a partnership between the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University.