We're delighted to announce the award of an honorary fellowship to Dr Cilla Ross, who is leaving us after six years. A passionate co-operator, she becomes the first woman to be awarded an honorary fellowship in our history.

Dr Cilla Ross, our former Principal and CEO, and recipient of an Honorary Fellowship

Cilla joined us in 2015 as Vice Principal and was appointed as our first ever female Principal in 2019. This built on a career spanning over 30 years, having previously worked across the UK higher education sector at the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and the Working Lives Research Institute. 

During her time at the College, Cilla has worked across multiple areas including teaching, learning and global research. She led on both co-operative higher education and the Co-operative University Project and will maintain her interest in these, as well as continuing to work with the Education Co-operatives that the we've helped to establish.  

As a champion for the importance of co-operative education across the movement and beyond, Cilla was an influential figure on the Centenary Commission on Adult Education, taking a leading role as a commissioner.  She has also recently been appointed to a 3-year Honorary Professorship in Co-operative Education at the University of Nottingham, UK.

Dr Cilla Ross said:

I am truly honoured by this award. It has been a privilege being a custodian and steward of the College and in helping to ready it for its future. The sentiment that has always motivated me comes from a statement made at Congress in 1914 which says ‘The college should create a burning desire for social justice, inspire a willingness to work for it, and provide the knowledge how best to attain it. …. Our aim should be to provide education in its widest sense: an education for the highest purposes of life…’ 

The College has a magnificent record in empowering people through education and this imperative is as critical as ever. As a Fellow I will contribute in any way I can to support the College’s commitment to a relevant, high quality and distinctive learning offer that has social justice at its heart. 

Commenting on the award, Jon Nott, our Chair of Trustees, said:

Cilla has led the College through a period of incredible external challenges and internal transformation. She moves into her new role having provided a strong academic and organisational platform from which the new team can build and grow. I’m delighted that Cilla will be able to continue her commitment to co-operative learning through this Fellowship.

Neil Calvert, CEO and Principal, Co-operative College added:

Cilla’s contribution to the work of the College can not be underestimated, and it is only right that it is being recognised by this award. Her influence will be sadly missed in our day-to-day working, but I am grateful that we will be able to retain our links with her through the honorary fellowship.

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