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David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

Sir David Bell became the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland on 24 September 2018.

Sir David was born in Glasgow in March 1959. Educated at a comprehensive school, he took degrees at the University of Glasgow and obtained his PGCE from Jordanhill College of Education.

In a career spanning over 40 years, Sir David has held a number of major posts across the education system. Between 2012 and 2018, he was Vice-Chancellor at the University of Reading. Previously, he was Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education for six years, serving four Secretaries of State and three Prime Ministers. He also served as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for nearly four years.

Sir David began his career as a primary school teacher and later became a head teacher. He was Director of Education and Libraries with Newcastle City Council and Chief Executive of Bedfordshire County Council. He was a Harkness Fellow based in Atlanta, Georgia for a year.

In 2020, Sir David was made a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Tyne and Wear. In the same year, he became the non-executive chair of Karbon Homes, a large social housing provider in the North East of England and Yorkshire. In 2024, Sir David began chairing the trustees of Samling Institute for Young Artists.

Sir David is a trustee and advisory board member of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), a board member of the Health Innovation Network North East and North Cumbria, a ‘Member’ – one of the people who sits at the top of the governance structure – of the Aldridge Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) and a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). He also sits on the Sunderland City Board, the Skills Advisory Panel of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), and the Remuneration Committee of Universities (UUK).

Sir David, who was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 2011, is married and has two adult daughters.

Contact details

Sir David Bell KCB DL
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
Email: vice.chancellor@sunderland.ac.uk

Julie Richardson
Senior Executive Officer to the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
Tel: +44 (0)191 515 2713
Email: julie.richardson-1@sunderland.ac.uk