Dame Joan to help tackle drink abuse

Joan Stringer

Joan Stringer

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A former principal and vice chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University has been appointed independent chairperson of the Scotch Whisky Action Fund, set up last year by the Scotch Whisky Association to combat alcohol-related problems.

Professor Dame Joan Stringer is a British political scientist whose career has covered well over three decades in higher education.

She was the first woman to lead a Scottish university and is a major champion of widening access and equality, as well as the internationalisation of education.

Her role at Napier, from which she stepped down two years ago, lasted an entire decade.

During her time at Napier she oversaw a £100 million estates strategy.

She said at the time that she had become as much a businesswoman as an academic.

But she said that despite her broader role she had never forgotten the life-transforming importance of higher education for individuals, nor its capacity to deliver for the greater good.

Dame Joan has held many positions outside academia, including being chair of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission Working Group (1998-99), as well as of The Secretary of State’s Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament, and lay member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland (2002-7).

As well as embracing her new role, she will continue with the range of non-executive board appointments she currently holds, as well as maintaining her position as senior education adviser to the British Council.

In 2001, she was awarded a CBE for her services to higher education and, in 2009, she was made a Dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In addition to these awards, she is an honorary citizen of Shandong Province, China.

The newly created Action Fund, which promotes the SWA’s commitment to responsible drinking and tackling alcohol misuse, will give £100,000 each year from now until 2018 to projects committed to reducing harm in Scotland.

Speaking about her new appointment, Dame Joan said: “I believe the Scotch Whisky Action Fund will have a vital part to play in tackling alcohol-related harm across Scotland. There are many innovative projects which will benefit from the fund and I am committed to having an active role in its development and spreading the word across Scotland.”

David Frost, SWA’s chief executive, said that Dame Joan would bring great experience to the role.

He said: “The fund, with Dame Joan as a driving force behind it, will help in the fight against misuse of alcohol.”

He added that although her new role will bring new challenges, he was confident, with her experience, that she would be up to the task.