Leading ladies honoured by Bath Spa

Stella Pirie OBE and Mary Toman have been made Honorary Fellows in recognition of their outstanding service to Bath Spa University

The influential leaders have both served on the Board of Governors of Bath Spa University since 1988 and have played a major part in guiding the University from its status as a College of Higher Education with just over 1,000 students, to its present position as a University with taught and research degree awarding powers and around 8,500 students.

Stella Pirie has served as Deputy Chair (1997-98) and Chair (1998-2013) of the Board of Governors and guided it through turbulent and transformational times with skill and diplomacy. She has played an enormously influential part in the development of the University. 

Commenting on receiving the honour, Stella said: “I take great pride in the journey Bath Spa University has gone on over the last 30 years. It has evolved into a leading educational institution in creativity, culture and enterprise. Our graduates are socially-engaged global citizens who will leave their mark on the world. It has been a pleasure to serve with such a talented team of academics and visionaries and I look forward to seeing how the University continues to adapt in the ever-changing world of higher education.”

Mary Toman, who also receives an Honorary Fellowship, has been an active and important member of the Board of Governors since her appointment in 1988, making her the longest-serving Governor in the history of Bath Spa University. Initially chosen by the Secretary of State for Education, Mary served on the original board to form a corporation for the institution. She used her previous experience to develop long-term strategic plans to grow the University in excellence and stature to better serve students across the United Kingdom and overseas.

Mary has had a long record of public service, having served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Commerce Department, in the International Trade Administration and as Deputy Treasurer of the State of California, where she managed more than $200 billion. Her years of executive experiences and training allowed her to lead the University in sound management principles, avoiding undue financial risks that affected other institutions in the country in 2008. During her service, the University has always remained in surplus, which provided the financial stability to build state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities.

Mary Toman commented: “I am extremely proud to have been offered this Honorary Fellowship. I strongly believe that educating the next generation should be one of society’s top priorities and I am delighted to continue to serve as a member of the University’s community of scholars. Helping to guide the University for more than a quarter of a century has been one of the most rewarding parts of a career of extensive service in government, the private sector and education. I encourage everyone to commit themselves to education, by teaching, volunteering or contributing and believe that the best days of Bath Spa University still lie ahead of it.” 

“Mary and Stella have made outstanding contributions to the life of our University over the last three decades. We are delighted to make them Honorary Fellows in recognition of their extraordinary commitment, faithful service and dynamic leadership, which has been hugely valued by a succession of Principals and Vice-Chancellors, including myself,” said Professor Christina Slade, Vice-Chancellor at Bath Spa University.

Photo Credit: Simon Rawles

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