Terms of Reference and membership

The Terms of Reference for the University Initiatives Portfolio Board.

Chair: Kim Graham, Provost 


  • Catherine Martin, Vice-Principal Corporate Services and Programme Sponsor People and Money  
  • Rona Smith, Deputy Secretary Governance and Strategic Planning  
  • Anne-Marie Coriat, College Registrar, CMVM  
  • Anne Payne, College Registrar, CSE  
  • Lisa Kendall, College Registrar, CAHSS  
  • James Saville, Human Resources  
  • Terry Fox, Finance  
  • Jen Milne, Deputy CIO, ISG  
  • Philip Graham, Deputy Director Internal Communications  
  • Helen Hastie, Head of School Informatics, CSE  
  • Lisa Bowden, Head of School Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine, CMVM  
  • Matthias Schwannauer, Head of School of Health in Social Science, CAHSS  
  • Stephen Lissaman, IGMM Business Manager (Director of Professional Services), CMVM 
  • Diane Gill, School of Chemistry Director of Professional Services, CSE  
  • Nicola Davidson, Moray House School of Education and Sport and Centre for Open Learning Director of Professional Services, CAHSS  
  • Colm Harmon, VP Students, Programme sponsor Curriculum Transformation  
  • Christina Boswell, Vice-Principal Research and Enterprise, Programme co-sponsor Growing Research Together  
  • Lorna Thomson, Director of Edinburgh Research Office, Programme co-sponsor Growing Research Together  
  • Lucy Evans, Deputy Secretary Students, Programme sponsor Student Support  
  • To be appointed by Board, External Change Specialist  
  • Programme/Project Lead (attendance as needed) 

Serviced by:  

  • Members of the Strategic Change Portfolio Office  
  • Internal Communications Manager 

Frequency: Every two months 

Reporting Line Out: University Executive 

Reporting Line In: Programme Boards within Portfolio 

The University Initiatives Portfolio Board is responsible for making recommendations to University Executive which will support Executive in making decisions which progress the delivery of initiatives to enable the realisation of strategic objectives. The Board will provide collective oversight of approved programmes/projects and the pipeline of new initiatives, with a focus on prioritisation, monitoring, and evaluation of the portfolio. 

It will: 

  • make recommendations regarding the prioritisation and sequencing of University Initiative programmes/projects milestones and deliverables; 
  • consider organisational capacity – in terms of expertise and level of resource - to engage with and embed an initiative as a critical factor of success; 
  • provide a critical forum for two-way dialogue between the individual Programme/Project sponsor and those responsible for considering a wider University position, provide improved visibility of priorities leading to a better understanding of what we are doing and why. 

The remit of the University Initiatives Portfolio Board is: 

Strategic Direction

  • Be responsible for overseeing and facilitating the collective delivery of approved programmes/projects that meet the defined criteria of a University Change Initiative; 
  • Make recommendations to the annual planning process and, as required, University Executive regarding the prioritisation and sequencing of University Initiative programmes/projects milestones and deliverables, what to start, continue and stop. Recommendations will be based on the full portfolio of change, wider dependencies, and resource requirements, and consider impact of ‘business as usual’ commitments and key Physical Estate and Digital Estate projects; 
  • Monitor the embedding of the change and the subsequent financial and non-financial benefits realisation linking this with Strategic Performance Indicators as relevant; 
  • Consider gaps between the current portfolio and strategic objectives recommending the scoping and initiation of pipeline programme/projects to the relevant committee per the Delegated Authority Schedule; 

Strategic Delivery

  • Maintain oversight of portfolio budget and spend, ensuring this is correlated to delivery progress and value creation aligned to return in investment as approved in the business case; 
  • Identify, monitor, resolve escalated issues, risks and dependencies and consider their aggregated impact, including escalation to the University Executive as appropriate; 
  • Endorse change requests in relation to scope, deliverables, timing, budget, and benefits that exceeds the tolerance set for an individual programme/project, before they are submitted to relevant committee for approval as per the Delegated Authority Schedule; 
  • Ensure scope, deliverables, timing, budget, and benefits changes that are approved result in the re-baseline of plan and business case documents and that these are appropriately communicated;


  • Fulfil a duty of care to staff by monitoring the stakeholder impact associated with individual programmes/projects and consider their aggregated impact. Ensure that the required stakeholder capacity to engage and adopt a change is considered and planned. Specific focus to be given to the capacity of the relevant cross university members of staff who hold responsibilities as distributed leaders and managers of the change;


  • Form a sponsor coalition for the portfolio by: 
    • Actively and visibly participating throughout the programme/project 
    • Building a coalition of sponsorship with other leaders 
    • Communicating support and promoting the change to impacted groups 
  • Input to the development and delivery of a stakeholder engagement plan; and
  • Adhere to decisions taken by the University Executive and other decision-making committees following their dissemination.

Matters Reserved

  • Financial approval and governance oversight remains with the Policy and Resources Committee, Knowledge Strategy Committee, Estates Committee and University Court as per the Delegated Authority Schedule and Terms of Reference for these committees as appropriate.
  • The board is responsible for supporting the University Executive to fulfil its accountabilities by providing proposals and recommendations. A specific focus of support regarding the following: 
    • Develop the University’s strategic objectives and support the Principal in overseeing their implementation and delivery 
    • Agree and oversee the implementation of policies, procedures and plans 
    • Develop and monitor delivery of University business planning objectives.

All members of the board will:

  • Embody the University Values and lead by example;
  • Provide direction and leadership, acting as critical friends and collectively as a conduit between individual Programmes/Projects and the University Executive; 
  • Promote collective responsibility for change adoption and benefit realisation rather than reinforce functional or territorial silos; 
  • Be collegial in approach, fostering trust through common purpose, constructive challenge and a collective resolution of issues; 
  • Consider the organisational culture and ensure approach and language is appropriate to promote engagement; 
  • Attend regularly and participate fully in the work of the Board. This will involve looking ahead and consulting/gathering input to provide the broad spectrum of thoughts and opinions which are necessary for proper consideration of the area being discussed; 
  • Draw on good practice and lessons learned to balance ambition with organisational change maturity; and 
  • Be committed to communicating the work of the Portfolio Board to the wider University as appropriate. 

  • Will provide programme/project status reports in a coherent and consistent format to allow collective assessment; 
  • Will provide a consolidated programme/project milestone, timeline, and stakeholder impact report; 
  • Will provide information of sufficient detail to enable the Board to assess risk, manage issues; 
  • Will provide visibility of planned key communications and engagement events to ensure they are briefed before wider colleagues and committees are contacted/updated; 
  • Provide visibility of any decisions taken at the relevant programme/project board; and 
  • Provide comprehensive option and proposal papers based on appropriate data and considering impacts to all stakeholder groups. 

  1. Agenda to be agreed in advance with the Portfolio Board chair and circulated to members via email linking to a SharePoint repository. 
  2. All papers are Open as default unless specific justification to be closed, in which case standard exemption rationale will be referred to. 
  3. All subsequent papers or presentations shared during the Portfolio Board meetings will be uploaded to the SharePoint repository in advance or directly following the meeting. 
  4. Sharing of information between Board meetings will be managed via email. 
  5. An action log will be maintained with all members able to view via the SharePoint Repository. 
  6. A third of members are required as quorum for this Board and should include representation from at least one college and one professional services area. 
  7. A summary status report including any risk and/or issue escalation plus proposal and decision requests will be submitted to the University Executive following each meeting. 

  • Involves significant changes to more than one of the following: policy, process, organisation design, technology, data, key value stream, ways of working.
  • Subject to business case approval via the planning round process i.e., Initiative has a clearly defined problem/opportunity statement, outcome, deliverables, scope, start and end rather than an ongoing activity* with associated income and cost. 
  • Identified as strategic investment funding rather than business as usual expenditure.
  • Staff impacted across more than one budget area (or to a significant level where contained within one budget area).
  • Timescale to deliver and embed is greater than six months.
  • Directly aligned to the delivery of one or more strategic objective. 

* Note that identified future revenue cost beyond the timeline of the programme/project will be included in the business case. 

For information - other initiatives 

Aligned to Portfolio for visibility but not governed through the University Initiatives Portfolio Board: 

  • ISG (Information Services Group) technical projects 
  • Estates capital projects 
  • Sustainability projects