Photograph of Dr Catherine BaxterOne of the West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association’s (RFCA) Board Members and former Harper Adams University Secretary, Dr Catherine Baxter, will be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to higher education, as announced in the New Year’s Honours List.

Dr Baxter’s honour marks a career working across a diverse range of educational institutions, including Harper Adams, where she served as University Secretary from 2009 until her retirement in September 2023.

Dr Baxter said: “It was a complete surprise.  I felt very touched and honoured – and most of all, extremely humbled and grateful.

“The award recognises that Harper Adams offers a wonderful opportunity for its staff to make a real difference to the expertise we can offer to our students and stakeholders.

“The work of the University, its staff, students, partners and alumni makes an important contribution to current and future sustainable food production.

“It’s a team effort and I was delighted to have had an opportunity to make a contribution.”

This led to a career of three decades in higher education administration and management, which saw Dr Baxter working at four universities in two different countries. As well as her time at Aberystwyth, she also served at the then Wrexham Glyndwr University, Nottingham University and eventually Harper Adams.

Dr Baxter took up her role at Harper Adams in the autumn of 2009, serving the University for the next 14 years to ensure the institution met all requirements of good governance. Her role included the management of teams including Estates, Catering, Human Resources, and the University’s Legal team.

She added: “It has been wonderful working with such committed colleagues and students in a community that is genuinely passionate about its work and making a positive difference.

“The best things about Harper in my view are the University’s positive staff, governors, students and alumni, the beautiful campus, the positive “can-do” approach, and its great food!”

As University Secretary, Dr Baxter was also at the heart of the University’s fundraising efforts, working closely with the Trustees and staff of the Harper Adams Development Trust to secure scholarship funds for students and funds for key capital projects.

Organising regular Royal Visits and other key events such as Graduation, her role involved working with all kinds of people – including industry CEOs, visiting politicians from the Parish Council to the House of Lords, and Palace officials and senior members of the Royal Family.

Outside of work, she has served as a volunteer in a number of roles, for over 25 years, all supporting the Reserve and Cadet Forces. Dr Baxter first volunteered in 1997 for East Midlands RFCA as an Advisory Group member and also the co-ordinator/Secretary to West Midlands Military Education Committee and Defence Studies Lectures

In 2001 she moved to Wales and supported their RFCA as a Board member and Chair of North Wales Group. She was also a member of the Wales Military Education Committee, which was involved in setting up a new Officer Training Corps unit based in Wrexham.

Then in 2009 Dr Baxter joined the West Midland RFCA as a Board member, a role she still holds. She is also a member of the University of Birmingham Military Education Committee and was involved in securing a new opportunity for Harper Adams University students to apply to join the University of Birmingham Air Squadron at RAF Cosford, in addition to the University’s students being able to apply to Birmingham University Officer Training Corps.

Major General John Crackett, Chair of West Midland RFCA, commented: “Dr Baxter has made a significant contribution to a number of RFCAs over many years, and we greatly value her experience and insight as one of our Board Members.  We add our warm congratulations to her on this well-deserved appointment as a MBE.”


Published 11/01/2024