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21 January 2020

USS appoints Dame Kate Barker as Chair-elect

The Dame Katharine (Kate) Barker will become Chair of the country’s largest private pension scheme later this year, when Professor Sir David Eastwood retires from the USS Board.

Her high-profile career – including as Chief Economic Adviser to the CBI and membership of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee – as well as her experience of working with Higher Education institutions make her ideal to lead USS in its mission.

USS has served the UK’s Higher Education sector since 1975 and is a hybrid scheme, offering valuable defined benefit pensions to all its members as well as a supplementary defined contribution section.

With funds of more than £68 billion (as at 31 March 2019), it is the country’s largest private pension scheme by way of assets and its dedicated in-house investment team, USS Investment Management, has achieved strong investment returns of c.11.7% (annualised) over the past 10 years.

News of Dame Kate’s appointment coincides with the value of the scheme’s DC assets passing the £1 billion mark for the first time. The DC section of the scheme only opened in late 2016.

Professor Sir David Eastwood has been on the USS Board since September 2009 and has been Chair since April 2015. He will retire from the board in August 2020.

He said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to be involved with, and lead, such an important and successful organisation over the past decade. I know that everyone who works at USS cares deeply about its mission and about serving its beneficiaries diligently and to the very best of their abilities.

“We were very pleased with the quality of the shortlist, but Kate’s remarkable professional career and knowledge of the Higher Education sector make for an outstanding appointment. I look forward to working closely with her over the coming months to achieve a seamless succession.”

Dame Kate said: “It is a real privilege to be invited to take up this role. I am well aware of just how important this pension scheme is to university staff past and present. In addition, the performance of the scheme and its effective management is significant for much of the university sector

“I look forward to working with the other trustees and indeed with all of the dedicated staff at USS.”

Dame Kate was Chief Economic Adviser at the CBI before becoming a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee from 2001 until May 2010.

Since leaving the Bank of England in 2010, Dame Kate has built an extensive portfolio of non-executive directorships spanning financial services, pensions, housebuilding, private equity and Government bodies with both publicly listed, non-profit and government owned businesses.

She brings direct sector Chair experience through her work with the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme.

Her engagements with the Higher Education sector to date include the role of Chair of Governors of Anglia Ruskin University and serving on the Council of Oxford University.