Council for British Research in the Levant seeks a new Chair

LATEST: Deadline extended to 15 September 2023!

CBRL seeks a chair to lead the Board and drive an exciting phase in the 100-year-old charity’s history. They will be credible in academia, and bring ambition, relevant senior-level commercial management or governance experience, and have an interest in the Levant or wider Middle East.

The Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) is a learned society working to advance public education on the Levant through promoting and disseminating research in the humanities, social sciences and related subjects. It works in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, with a mission to advance knowledge and understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Levant. It runs two local institutes in the Levant: the Kenyon Institute in East Jerusalem and the Amman Institute in Jordan. CBRL produces and disseminates original, rigorous and independent scholarship in the humanities, social sciences and related fields, whilst investing in the most promising emerging scholars and scholarship in the UK and the Levant. It also facilitates UK-Levantine academic collaborations and partnerships, both individual and institutional, and contributes to shaping debate and understanding through informed public outreach and education.

CBRL is part of a network of British International Research Institutes (BIRI), formerly referred to as the British Schools, Institutes and Societies Abroad (BASIS). The BIRI operates across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Whilst valuing its independence, CBRL receives a grant from the British Academy, as well as fundraising and receiving donations from members, and its own revenue from consulting and projects.

As a UK charity, with a history of over 100 years, CBRL was founded and began working in the Levant at a time when the mandated territories of Palestine, and what was then known as Transjordan, were under British control. It now seeks to address the history of British colonialism in the Levant as equal scholars in the realms of social science and humanities, and facilitate equal knowledge exchange and development between people in the region and in the UK.

Role specification
The Chair is responsible for the Board of Trustees of CBRL. In addition to chairing its four meetings per annum, the role is also representational and there is line management of the Director of CBRL. The Chair consults the Board on the nomination of new Trustees and on the appointment of a President. Along with the Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer, the Chair is consulted by the Directors and Trustees before matters are brought to the Board.

CBRL seeks to appoint a Chair with a strong alignment with its vision and mission who, in addition to formal Board meetings, will be willing to undertake informal engagement with the charity and its executive team. The Chair will hold the Board and Executive Team to account for CBRL’s mission and vision, providing inclusive leadership to the Board of Trustees, and ensuring that each trustee fulfils their duties and responsibilities for the effective governance of the charity.

Responsibilities of the Chair include:

  • Chairing Board meetings (currently four half-day meetings), setting agendas, liaising with board members
  • Regular discussions with the CEO and team, acting as a strategic resource to CBRL
  • Interacting with external stakeholders as an enthusiastic advocate and ambassador
  • Ensuring that the charity uses its resources in line with its charitable objects
  • Carrying out the core responsibilities of charity governance, as set out in Charity Commission Guidance and the Charity Governance Code
  • Safeguarding the reputation and values of the charity and have an active concern for diversity and inclusion, and a commitment to increasing the impact of the charity
  • Attending and engaging in training and events as required

Person specification
CBRL seeks to appoint its next Chair to the Board to replace the current Chair, Dr Robert Bewley, who will be stepping down in December. The incoming Chair will be well connected, particularly bringing credibility with the British Academy, and have the passion to advocate for CBRL in order to guide its organisational growth. The new Chair will be the public face of the aspirations and values of CBRL as it seeks to establish itself as the leading research institution in the space.

The organisation is looking for an enthusiastic, engaged and collaborative individual looking to make a distinctive contribution to the continued success of this organisation. Individuals will bring an understanding and appreciation of the Levant region, gained through personal background, heritage, academic research, or professional expertise. Candidates could bring a variety of relevant experiences to the role, ranging across university research, think tanks, and private commercial organisations.

The successful candidate will:

  • Bring senior-level leadership experience at a significant organisation at main-board level, as an Executive or Non-Executive Director, gained in the commercial, education, or not-for-profit sectors
  • A strong practical understanding of the role and responsibilities of a Non-Executive Chair
  • Familiarity with academic research, and ideally previous experiences managing relationships with the British Academy
  • Bring functional commercial expertise, which could have been gained in a university or research institution

In addition, it would be desirable if candidates bring:

  • Experience of being a Board Chair
  • Experience managing structural change through organic and inorganic growth strategies.

Board composition
For more information about CBRL’s governance and members on its Board of Trustees, please see here.

Terms of appointment
This role is unremunerated, but pre-agreed, reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed. The time commitment for this role is up to two to four days per month, consisting of four annual Board meetings (which last roughly two / three hours) and a roughly an hour-long AGM per year. The Chair will be heavily involved in strategic direction of the organisation.

The term length for this appointment is three years, which can be renewed once at the discretion of the Board.

Meetings can be hybrid, and increasingly in-person, as CBRL has a presence in London. However, individuals must be UK residents.

CBRL welcomes applications from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or disability. As individuals from ethnic minorities, or of international heritage, are currently under-represented on the Board, applications from those candidates would be particularly encouraged. All appointments will be made on merit, following a fair and transparent process. In line with the Equality Act 2010, however, the organisation may employ positive action where diverse candidates can demonstrate their ability to perform the role equally well.

The deadline for consideration was originally 24 August 2023 – now extended to 15 September 2023.

If you would like to register your interest in this role, please visit this link.