ANN Priest has been elected to lead the Glasgow School of Art's Board of Governors by staff and students.

Ms Priest is an experienced Non-Executive Director, who has been a lay member of Glasgow Caledonian University’s Court and a Trustee and Board member for of Glasgow Caledonian New York College for the last six years. She was previously on the Boards of Nottingham Contemporary and Nottingham Creative Quarter Company.

She replaces Muriel Gray who stood down as chair of Glasgow School of Art last September, three years after a second fire engulfed the building.

Read more: Glasgow School of Art: Search is on to appoint new chairman

Ms Gray said it had been “the greatest honour” to help with governing the institution but that it was time for a “fresh, energetic, and long-term committed person” to take over the role.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow School of Art was hit by two fires in four yearsGlasgow School of Art was hit by two fires in four years

The world-renowned Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Mackintosh Building at the art school was extensively damaged by a blaze in June 2018 while it was undergoing a £35 million restoration following a previous fire in May 2014.

Ms Priest has more than 30-years’ experience in Higher Education most recently as Pro-Vice Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University and Dean at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London (UAL), and of working with the small businesses in both the fashion sector and the wider creative industries.

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As Chair of the Board of Governors, Ms Priest will be responsible for the Board’s leadership and effectiveness, and its role in overseeing the GSA’s strategic direction, supporting the School to achieve the ambitions outlined in its new Strategic Plan: 2022 – 2027.

Ms Priest said: I am delighted to have been elected Chair of The Glasgow School of Art Board of Governors and to be leading the Board, supporting Professor Penny Macbeth and her colleagues as the School builds on its strengths, heritage, and distinctive position in UK higher education as one of the world’s leading institutions for art, design, and architecture.  

“I firmly believe in the transformational impact of creative education and research for the individual, society, and the economy. This impact is so evident at the GSA, from its UK-leading position in internationally significant and world leading research and practice to the successes of its graduates, many of whom come from some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities, with the GSA recognised as a leader in widening participation."

HeraldScotland: A fire report said the cause of the 2018 blaze may never be fully knownA fire report said the cause of the 2018 blaze may never be fully known

Ms Priest said the importance of The Glasgow School of Art to Glasgow and Scotland, and the educational, cultural, and civic contribution it makes cannot be overstated.

She added: "I look forward to working with the Board supporting the School in its commitment to the future, to building strong relationships with all our stakeholders, and ensuring that the GSA continues to be an amazing and inspirational place to be part of and to partner with”. 

Professor Penny Macbeth, Director of The Glasgow School of Art, congratulated her election as chair of the Board of Governors. 

Professor Macbeth said: “Ann will lead our Board at a key moment as we implement our new strategic plan, rebuilding the solid foundations that will sustain and develop both our local and global standing and reach alongside our commitment to the highest levels of student and staff experience.  Her knowledge and understanding of art schools and the contribution they make across all aspects of our lives will add richness and value to the already diverse skills and experience of our Board”.

Dr Graham Sharp, chair of the Chair Election Committee, said the process worked through was both "interesting and rigorous, and ultimately gave every member of the GSA community an opportunity to influence the future leadership of the Board of Governors."

Ms Priest has been appointed for an initial period of four years.

Earlier this year a long-awaited report concluded the cause of the 2018 fire that ravaged the Glasgow School of Art for a second time may never be known but wilful fire raising and electrical failure cannot be "fully discounted."

The second fire caused catastrophic damage to the prized Mackintosh Building as it neared the end of a £35million restoration project following a previous blaze in May 2014.

The report said accidental ignition by something like a cigarette could not be fully ruled out as well as a deliberate fire or an electrical failure.