Dr Ruth Thompson had a 30-year civil service career, rising to Director-General for Higher Education, before serving as a Governor of Staffordshire University from 2010 until she passed away in July 2016.
Ruth joined the Board as an Independent Governor shortly after retiring from the civil service, where she worked in senior roles in a variety of Government departments. Among those were the Departments for Trade and Industry, the Treasury and Education. Finally, as Director-General in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, Ruth managed an annual budget of £7 billion for Higher Education institutions and £3 billion for student finance.
During her career, Ruth advised Ministers on the future direction and strategy for higher education, with policy responsibility for expanding and widening participation, the current system of student grants and loans, developing the Research Excellence Framework and forging new relationships between universities, schools and colleges.
Ruth brought this experience, knowledge and expertise to Staffordshire University’s Board of Governors. She also served the University as Chair of the Education Committee, Deputy Chair of both the Audit and Risk and Nomination and Governance Committees, as well as being a founder member of the Fund Raising Development Board.
“As soon as Ruth started visiting Staffordshire University as a member of the Board of Governors, she fell in love with the place,” said husband Sir David Bean. “Throughout her career, Ruth wanted to make a difference, and that continued after she retired from the civil service.”
Alongside her role at Staffordshire University, Ruth was also the interim Chief Executive of Partnerships for Schools in 2010-11, a member of the HEFCE Audit Committee, Deputy Chair of Governors at Birkbeck, University of London, a member of the Higher Education Policy Institute Advisory Board, and co-chaired an inquiry for the Higher Education Commission on the future sustainability of higher education.
In 2013, Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer and, following surgery, made an initial recovery. Secondary cancer was found in 2015 and Ruth passed away the following year.
The Posthumous Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Ruth in recognition of her exemplary services as a Governor of Staffordshire University and to Higher Education throughout her 30-year career with the civil service.
Sir David Bean, accepted the Award on Ruth’s behalf.