Meet the Governors

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Ruth Governer

Prof. Ruth Farwell CBE DL

Title: Chair of Governors

Ruth Farwell was formerly Vice Chancellor at Buckinghamshire New University (2006-2015). She was awarded a CBE in 2015 for services to higher education. While Vice Chancellor, she was a member of the board of the higher education funding council HEFCE (2009-2015) and chair of the universities’ representative body, GuildHE (2009-2013). While a member of the HEFCE Board, she chaired their Teaching Quality and Student Experience Committee.

Ruth has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. She has published on higher education policy and her research is at the boundary between applied mathematics and theoretical physics, using the algebras of Victorian mathematician W.K. Clifford.

Ruth now acts in an advisory capacity to various ‘alternative providers’ of higher education on their academic governance arrangements and to the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership on their skills strategy. She is currently a governor at Southampton Solent University and also Honorary President of the Association of University Administrators.

To relax Ruth tries to support her husband to keep a large garden in the Chilterns under control, and enjoys cooking, especially using home-grown produce. She has taken up beekeeping comparatively recently.

Tony Withell_Crop

Tony Withell, Executive Principal

Tony has spent the last twenty years leading a secondary school in Hertfordshire and then an upper school in Bedford Borough where he ‘survived’ 7 Ofsted Inspections. In the case of the most recent school, Wootton Upper School, the four inspections all graded the school as ‘good with outstanding facilities’, he also led the school’s ‘conversion’ to Academy status. A successful application to open a 16-19 STEM College also illustrates his commitment to enhancing the learning facilities and outcomes for students.

Previously a member of the National Executive of the National Association of Headteachers, he has continued to support the Secondary Committee of the Association and to support local headteachers.

Having led the Bedfordshire Upper School Headteachers for many years, Tony is familiar with the political context in which ‘education’ works and is truly excited by the learning environment of the UTC.


Mike Appleyard

Mike was educated in the Midlands and Imperial College (BSc Physics). He managed an IT Division and moved to managing businesses across the world. The objective was to make the business profitable. Having managed that, he retired at 52 and acted as a consultant to a number of businesses that needed help.

Mike then chose to focus on being a full time councillor. Over the last fifteen years, he has headed up the following portfolios: Social Services, Education, Economic Development and Health. He is now Deputy Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and holds the Portfolio for Education and Skills.


Russ Brittain

Russ, currently Head of Human Resources, has been with Taylor Wimpey since May 2001 in a number of HR roles.

Prior to moving to the House Building Industry Russ has worked in the Financial Services sector in both customer facing and HR roles.

With the increasing need for skilled talent in the Industry, Russ is passionate about working with the UTC to highlight and provide access to career opportunities in the Industry. The key differentiating factor from traditional recruitment sources is the UTC’s drive for students to be work ready.

Russ is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with over 20 years’ experience in the Human Resources field.


Dr Tim Coole

Head of Departmental Design and Craft at Bucks New University. He has worked at the Bucks New University for the last 14 years. I am a chartered engineer and a Fellow of the RSM. He is also a member of the IED and I am actively involved with the professional accreditation of courses for the IED. He is a director of OXETA and involved with both the Oxford LEP and the Bucks LEP. Currently I hold 2 external examiner roles one with the Glasgow Caledonian University, and the other with the Asia Pacific University of Malaysia. I completed my PhD at Staffordshire University in 1998. I have worked as an engineer for more than 30 years and have supervised 8 PhD students to completion. He has run several EU projects on advanced manufacturing and have supervised student exchange programmes with several countries in Europe. He currently supervise 4 PhD students two who are about to complete. In the area of Manufacturing and Production Efficiency. He has worked with companies throughout the region including BMW, Oxford Instruments, Cobham, Instron, etc. He has published some 70 journal and conference papers and contributed to several books. He has run his own business for the last 20 years in property development. And is an active member of the Royal Society of Medicine.


Baljit Dhillon

Mr. Dhillon holds a Masters degree from London University. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, European Registered Engineer and a Chartered Engineer. Mr Dhillon started his working career with Mars Ltd and has worked in senior executive positions for various blue chip multi-national corporations in the UK, USA and Asia. Mr Dhillon was the Managing Director of Quest Consumer Products Ltd, and until recently he was the Divisional Managing Director of Stadium Group Plc. He is now working as a Business Consultant.

Mr Dhillon has worked as a Non-Executive Director for various organisations for a number of years and is a Non-Executive Director of UK Space Agency and Chairman of its Audit Committee.

Andy Keegan

Andy has worked in finance and IT throughout his career and was latterly Finance Director of ESRI (UK), one of the UTC’s corporate sponsors. After eleven years in the role he retired in 2014 but remains a co-opted Governor on the UTC Board. He was also Governor of a secondary school in Aylesbury for five years and is Treasurer and Trustee of a national medical charity. He qualified as a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in 1981 and maintains business interests in the travel sector.

Karen Mitchell

Karen is the Principal and Chief Executive of Aylesbury College. Karen has a strong leadership and management background in Further Education holding a number of senior positions including Vice Principal and Director of Quality. Prior to her time in Further Education Karen worked as a nurse practitioner and manager for 17 years in the Health Service.

Karen is a passionate supporter of inclusive learning in Vocational Education and Training. Her focus is on leading an outstanding student experience which prepares students of all ages and abilities to realise their ambition and achieve long-term success in work and life. She strongly believes that Further Education should be at the heart of the community, transforming lives and driving economic and social success.Karen is a Board member of the Bucks UTC, Connexions, Bucks Education, Skills and Training (BEST) and the Bucks Thames Valley LEP Skills and Employability Board. She is a Trustee for Youth Concern. A Director of the Women’s Leadership Network, Karen is a leadership mentor and coach. Karen holds a range of teaching and coaching qualifications as well as a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Management.

Fiona Morey

Fiona has over 25-years’ experience working in Further Education across a number of colleges in the southeast. As Deputy Principal at Aylesbury College Fiona works with a wide range of local employers and the local enterprise partnerships to develop and shape an employer-led curriculum that supports regional skills priorities.

Alan Sherwell

Alan Sherwell

Alan Sherwell retired from BT as Head of Consumer Regulation. He spent 18 years as a District Councillor including several as leader of the Council. He has over 20 years’ experience of School Governance at Primary and Secondary level and was Vice Chair of the Corporation of Aylesbury College. He is a Board Member of Buckinghamshire Learning Trust and a Trustee of four charities and has also been a Board Member of a government-sponsored local delivery vehicle.

Eric Sisi

Eric Sisi

Eric Sisi’s international career spans 30 years of telecommunication, information technology and business experience, working in the military and Fortune 100 technology firms while based in Europe, the Middle East and North America. Eric possesses a B.Eng. in Computer Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada and a LLM in International Business Law from the University of Liverpool. Currently, Eric is Vice President Customer EMEA Customer Technical Support and Services at McAfee International (an Intel Company). Eric speaks French, English and Italian and lives in London, England.


Matthew Richards 

Senior R&D Engineering Program Manager at Cisco Systems.


Dr Lorraine Watkins-Mathys 

Governor representative of Bucks New University.

To view a list of the Governors’ Interests, please click here.