Governors appointed to the South Eastern Regional College

The Department for Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today announced the appointment and reappointment of members to the Governing Body of South Eastern Regional College.

The Minister has appointed three new governors and re-appointed three existing governors, whose first terms of office had come to an end. The new governors are Ms Christine Goodwin, Miss Claire Meharg and Professor Alan Woodside OBE. The governors who are being re-appointed for a second term are Mr Neil Bodger, Mr Mark Graham and Ms Heather Reid.

Professor Woodside’s appointment took effect from 19 January 2015 and the remaining appointments took effect from 1 August 2015. All six appointments are for a period of four years.

The governing body of a further education college is responsible for securing the efficient and effective management of the college, determining its strategic direction, appointing its senior staff and ensuring that the college acts as a responsible employer.

Appointments to the governing bodies of further education colleges are not currently remunerated.


1. South Eastern Regional College (SERC) is one of the six, large further education colleges across Northern Ireland. It has campuses in Lisburn, Bangor, Downpatrick, Newtownards, Ballynahinch, Newcastle and Holywood. In 2013/14 academic year (the latest year for which full, validated statistics are available), SERC had over 35,000 enrolments and employed an average staff of 702 (expressed as full- time equivalents).

2. The new appointments are being made by the Minister following public appointment competitions. Ms Goodwin and Miss Meharg have been appointed following the 2015 member competition. Professor Woodside was appointed from the reserve list of a member competition which took place during 2014. Both the appointments and reappointments are being made in accordance with the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

3. Appointments and reappointments to the governing bodies of further education colleges are for a period of four years and are not currently remunerated. However, plans to remunerate chairs and members of the college governing bodies are in train. It is anticipated that remuneration will be introduced during the early part of the term of these appointments.

4. Ms Christine Goodwin has worked at senior management level in BT for over a decade and is currently employed in an Ireland-wide lead Strategic Resourcing role. She has a number of tertiary level and professional qualifications in marketing, human resources, finance, business improvement and project management. A full member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), she previously served on the Northern Ireland Executive Committee as Treasurer and Secretary for the Strategy and Policy Sub Committee. She has also served as a director on the Lanyon Place Management Company and with the Beat Carnival, a local carnival company. Ms Goodwin does not currently hold any other public appointments.

5. Miss Claire Meharg has worked as a member of staff in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for the last 15 years. Much of her career has been as a Crime Scene Investigator and Major Crime Forensic Advisor. Her current primary function is to identify how to widen access to the organisation through schemes such as structured work experience, apprenticeships, work placements and a youth volunteer scheme. The aim of these schemes is to create an organisation that is more reflective of the community and therefore improve the service provided to the public. She has experience in stakeholder management and partnership working across the public, private and voluntary sectors including working with European partners on an EU funded project. Miss Meharg is currently studying for a Certificate in Business Accounting with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has recently completed the Prince 2 Project Management qualification. Miss Meharg does not currently hold any other public appointments.

6. Professor Alan Woodside OBE serves as Emeritus Professor in Highway Engineering at Ulster University. He has a background in civil engineering and higher education and is the current chair of the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum for Northern Ireland and a public director on the Board of the Lagan Canal Trust. Professor Woodside is an elected member of the Council of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation and acts as the national vice-chair of its Membership and Strategy Board. He is actively involved in the promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in schools and serves on the Board of Governors of both a local primary and voluntary grammar school. He is credited with more than 200 technical publications and holds an OBE for services to highway engineering and higher education. Professor Woodside is currently a member of the Board of Governors of Friends School Lisburn. He does not receive any remuneration for this appointment.

7. Mr Neil Bodger is a member of the NI Social Care Council, the regulatory body for the social care workforce in Northern Ireland, for which he receives £6,367 per annum. He has held various Board positions during the last 10 years including Chair of the Appeals Tribunals for the Southern Education & Library Board. He was previously a member of the Board of Governors at Stranmillis University College. He has served as a governor at SERC since August 2011.

8. Mr Mark Graham is currently Director of Property and Development at Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Housing Association, where he leads the organisation’s development programme. Previously Mr Graham worked for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), where he carried out a number of senior management roles. Most recently he was responsible for managing the Northern Ireland social housing development programme. Previously he was responsible for business change and led the NIHE through a number of major change programmes. He has served as a governor at SERC since August 2011 and, during this time, has served as Chair of the Staffing Committee. Mr Graham does not currently hold any other public appointments.

9. Mrs Heather Reid has over 30 years experience in the field of education. As a youth leader and as a teacher she gained a wide range of experience in curricular, pastoral, management and governance matters. This experience was gained across secondary, comprehensive and grammar schools and also through tutoring primary school children. As Principal of a grammar school she held this leadership role during a time of significant change and increasing collaboration between schools and further education colleges.
Mrs Reid continues to have an active interest in education and her current posts include chairing a committee of professional educators addressing the specific requirements of children and young people with special educational needs, and chairing tribunals hearing appeals within the education system. Experienced in the selection and recruitment of staff, Mrs Reid has also chaired and served on a range of disciplinary panels. She is currently Chair of the Belfast Area of Cruse, a national charity supporting the bereaved. Within the charity, she is also a representative on the Regional Committee and a Safeguarding Officer, providing training in Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults. Mrs Reid has been a governor at SERC since August 2011 and during this has served as a member of the Staffing Sub-committee, has chaired the Education Sub-committee and acted as a safeguarding governor.

10. All appointments are made on merit and political activity played no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. None of the six governors have carried out any political activity in the past five years.