Originally from Newcastle, with a BA in modern languages from the University of Manchester, Chris was previously Head of Memberships at the National Theatre, on London’s South Bank. He has also worked as a recruitment consultant specialising in fundraising positions in the higher education, arts and mainstream charity sectors.
His move from fundraising in the arts to higher education is a natural one, he says. “My family background is firmly rooted in education as my father and grandfather were both language teachers. I also believe very strongly in the principles that underpin Birkbeck, that people should have the opportunity to access higher education whatever their background, and at whatever stage in life.
As a fundraiser, Chris’s role is to encourage major philanthropic support for Birkbeck, identifying and developing relationships with individuals, charitable trusts and companies interested in supporting the College.
“I think Birkbeck’s unique mission is a powerful part of our attraction for potential donors,” he says. “There is an ongoing need to provide student support through scholarships and bursaries. Donors get the satisfaction of knowing they are helping someone who might not otherwise have been able to go to university.
“But we are looking at all the reasons and opportunities for people to give,” he adds. “These could be exciting projects within the individual Schools, or opportunities around our exciting new development in Stratford.
“Essentially, my role is to understand as much of what is going on across Birkbeck as possible, whilst building positive relationships with alumni and any others who ultimately will support particular areas. Matching our projects with their areas of interests is crucial. To do that I need to work with people throughout the College, at every level. It’s a fabulous challenge!”