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Trustee Role Description - President

Role title: President
Accountable to: Board of trustees
Responsible for: Leadership and Support of the Board
Term of office: Four years

The BSI is one of the oldest immunology societies in the world and the largest in Europe.  Our membership is global but the majority of our 3,500 members are based in the UK.  The Society’s objective is to promote excellence in research, scholarship and clinical practice in immunology in order to improve human and animal health.

Scope and purpose

The President of the British Society for Immunology is elected by the membership.  He or she holds the most senior position within the Society, is responsible for providing strategic leadership and works with the Board and senior officers to establish long-term goals, plans and policies. 

The President plays a pivotal role in representing UK immunology’s interests to a range of external bodies in science and healthcare and is the spokesperson and chief ambassador for the Society.  In this four-year role, the President is charged with leading the development of the Society in close collaboration with the other trustees to meet its purpose and uphold its values. A broad biomedical and scientific vision is essential to the role.   

The President must be resident in the UK and a member of the Society. This is an unremunerated role but travel and other expenses are paid as per the expenses guidelines policy.

Specific responsibilities

The President is expected to:

  • To lead on the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer, monitoring their performance regularly and leading on the annual appraisal and performance management.
  • To work closely with the rest of the Board, CEO and the senior management team on strategy development, leading on the development of the plan, ensuring that is credible, can be implemented and will improve the overall effectiveness of the Society.
  • Develop Board oversight of the two journals, ensuring that there is regular discussion with Editors in Chief about their work.
  • Undertake training for the role as required e.g. on conduct of committees, equality and diversity, charity law, governance, compliance, fraud, probity etc.
  • To network actively and at a high level in order to represent and enhance the influence of the Society and the wider immunology community in the UK. The President represents the BSI in external meetings both at home and abroad.
  • To work closely with the trustees, and in particular, the Treasurer and Chair of Forum, in order to ensure that approach, activities and budgets are closely aligned and meet charitable purpose and that charitable resources are effectively used and managed.
  • To represent the organisation on an international level, attending meetings and Congress of the European Federation of Immunological Societies (Efis) when possible, to liaise with their president and with the president of the international body, IUIS.
  • To contribute to developing, to approve the agenda and chair the four Board meetings a year; to attend other meetings as necessary.
  • To attend the BSI Congress and give an opening address, chair the AGM and attend other events which are important for the BSI’s profile and reputation e.g. the launch of BSI reports.
  • To lead on public affairs for the BSI, working with staff and BSI policy committee, Forum, on policy and approach, and to attend meetings and host occasional events with MPs, government officials, funding bodies, heads of medical research charities and other senior external partners to ensure good representation and authority.
  • To sign off public statements for the BSI, on policy issues of high importance and relevance (for example, JCVI recommendations, immunisation uptake and parliamentary agenda items e.g. Brexit).
  • To write articles for the BSI with support from staff, for the publications such as the members’ magazines, the Annual Review and to correspond with senior partners as necessary.  
  • To work with the Board, staff and members to manage risks as they arise, discuss as part of the risk register and to ensure that the membership understands and is kept abreast of important developments.
  • To ensure that good governance arrangements are in place across the Board and committees, working with the CEO to make changes as charity law changes. To address any potential conflicts of interest on the Board as they may arise.
  • To approve with the Treasurer the Trustees Report and Financial Statements.

Time commitment

The role involves attending Board meetings four times a year in person, attending Congress and other important events in the year.

The President meets regularly with the CEO, other Trustees and members of staff.

The commitment is generally 2-4 days a month. 

General responsibilities for Trustee

Trustees serve for a four-year term, renewable once. They are responsible for ensuring that the Society complies with its governing document, charity law, company law, and any other relevant legislation or regulation. They must ensure that the Society applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its stated objects.  

They are expected to attend the BSI Board of Trustees meetings (four per annum).

Trustees should understand and accept the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship and adhere to Nolan's seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

Person specification

  • A demonstrable commitment to the Society and to immunology
  • Able and willing to devote the necessary time and energy to the BSI
  • To be well connected in science in the UK and internationally
  • A track-record of developing strategy and thinking creatively
  • Fair, independent judgment and a willingness to both listen and to speak their mind
  • An ability to work collaboratively and collectively, accepting consensus
  • Membership of the Society is required under the rules
  • Excellent overview of key areas of and developments in immunology
  • Previous experience of chairing senior committees
  • An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship.
  • Very high level of authority and credibility within the academic community



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