The Co-operative College has appointed Dr Cilla Ross as its principal and chief executive, replacing Simon Parkinson who has moved to the Workers’ Educational Association.
Dr Ross, who is the first woman to take the role, steps up on 9 December from the position of vice principal, a post she has held since 2015.
She will lead on the implementation of the College’s new five-year strategy, launched at its centenary conference at Rochdale Town Hall last month. The event drew speakers and delegates from around the world, with keynote addresses from Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, Ariel Guarco, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, and Dame Pauline Green, a previous president of the ICA.
A College spokesperson said: “Cilla brings a wealth of experience, having worked extensively across the UK higher education sector at the universities of Sheffield, Leeds and the Working Lives Research Institute for the last 30 years.”
Dr Ross, an adult educator and work sociologist, has designed and managed teaching, research and learning initiatives throughout the European Community. She has taught, written and researched extensively on life-wide education and the changing nature of work, as well as all aspects of non-traditional adult and labour education.
Her work at the College includes co-designing a future co-operative university, the re-imagining Rochdale initiative, and exploring union co-operatives.
Nigel Todd, chair of trustees at the College, said: “Cilla’s academic experience and ability to build great partnerships, combined with her determination to expand the reach of the co-operative movement, makes her exactly the right person to lead the Co-operative College into its next century, flourishing as a free, independent beacon of co-operative education.”
Dr Ross said: “I am delighted to be appointed to the position of College Principal at such an exciting time, particularly as we launch our new five-year strategy.
“My aim is not only to strengthen the College’s position as the go-to institution for co-operative education here in the UK and across the world, but also to continue to advance our programme of genuinely disruptive and radical ideas, shaking up the current education system, including continuing the development of the UK’s first ever Co-operative University.
“We will also continue to build on our excellent project work, increasing our impact in marginalised communities, both in the UK and internationally, by delivering and co-creating cooperative learning opportunities.”