A new Interim Director of Race and Equality has been appointed to help us meet our moral commitments and obligations to address systematic racism within Higher Education and the University.

As a University, we face a number of key challenges including:  

  • Low numbers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff, particularly in professional and support roles
  • Lack of career opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff

  • Degree awarding gap, particularly between Black and White students

  • Low level of reported racial incidents with likely under reporting by both staff and students

Yvonne Howard, who has led diversity and equality initiatives at a range of public and private sector organisations, has been appointed to the newly created role of Interim Director for Race and Equality. She will be responsible for coordinating all staff and student equality and diversity activities across the University and ensuring that we meet our commitments in line with the University’s Vision and Strategy and values.

She will be working with colleagues to develop a clear roadmap for the implementation of our Race Equality Charter Action Plan and the outcomes of the review of our policies, processes and protocols in respect of race equality, as well as promoting the honest conversations with colleagues to make the University a fully inclusive community.

The work on the review of our policies and processes in respect of race equality will be led by University Governor Roger Burke-Hamilton and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement and Education Partnerships) Chris Chang working together with Yvonne. Dr Jason Arday, of the University of Durham and Runnymede Trust, has also been appointed to support the work and provide an independent expert perspective.

The work will involve focus groups with staff and students from across the University, including input from current Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students with lived experience. This will report to the Chair of the Board of Governors (BoG) and to the Vice-Chancellor as Chair of the University Executive Board (UEB). Findings will be fully discussed and explored at meetings of UEB and the BoG, with an interim report to be completed by June/July 2021.

Chris Chang, Race Equality Charter Champion and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement and Education Partnerships), said: “There are many initiatives and enthusiastic staff and students who are keen to make a positive contribution to change our culture for the better. However, we recognise that we did not have enough senior leadership in this area to help us prioritise and bring together ideas for a more holistic approach. 

“We are delighted that Yvonne will be joining us at the University from today (26 April), and we welcome the independent expertise and guidance that Roger and Jason are bringing to their roles – driving forward the changes we need to make as quickly and as effectively as possible. 

“We know there is still a lot of work to do, but we are determined to ensure individuals from all backgrounds benefit equally from the opportunities higher education provides, and create an inclusive culture where all individuals are able to thrive, irrespective of race or ethnicity.”


Yvonne Howard, Interim Director of Race and Equality

Yvonne has extensive experience from her previous roles including as Interim Director of Group Equality and Inclusion for Transport for London, Head of Diversity and Equality at Essex County Council, and Diversity Specialist for Crossrail and Women in Construction.

Most recently, Yvonne was a Director at consultants YMH Ltd, where she developed and implemented diversity and inclusion policies and strategies for clients including The Greater London Authority, BBC, Arts Council England, The Electoral Commission, Hillingdon NHS Trust, City University and High Speed 2 Rail; as well as private sector organisations including Sky and Mercedes Formula 1.

Yvonne said: “As a mother of a young, black male student, I am committed to ensuring people are fairly rewarded for their effort. I’m excited to be joining the University of Portsmouth at a time when we are sharpening our sight on a new vision, with equity and inclusion at the heart – people are having brave conversations about inequalities and your voices will drive action.”

The role will initially be on an interim basis with the aim of seeking a permanent appointment.  

Dr Jason Arday, independent consultant

Dr Jason Arday is an Associate Professor in Sociology at Durham University, a Visiting Research Fellow at The Ohio State University, an Adjunct Professor at Nelson Mandela University and a Trustee of the Runnymede Trust – the UK’s leading Race Equality Thinktank. His research focuses on Race, Intersectionality, Education and Social Justice.
Jason also sits on a number of trade union equality committees including the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and he is part of the Universities UK Advisory Group on tackling racial harassment in higher education. He has authored and co-edited a number of highly acclaimed books and he was commissioned by the Welsh Government to undertake an Education Review as part of the country’s Race Equality Commission published in March 2021.

Jason said: “I am honoured to be able to have the opportunity to work with the University of Portsmouth in their mission to create a racially equitable university. The university's commitment towards addressing racial inequality will provide concerted efforts to better mobilise Black and Minority Ethnic students and staff. I look forward to working with all staff and students to achieve this objective.”

Roger Burke-Hamilton, External Governor at the University

Roger joined the Board of Governors in February 2018 and is a member of the Infrastructure and Finance Committee. Roger is co-founder and managing director of DigiThreadz and a non-executive director of a number of companies who specialise in the citizen-centric transformation of public services, health and social value, including non-executive director at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust.

He is a former senior civil servant with experience in information solution architecture, supply chain and software intellectual property, particularly for human centred/citizen enabled services, data and cloud-based technologies.