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USS makes swift appointment in chairman replacement

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The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has appointed a chairman after the retirement of Sir Martin Harris last week.

Sir David Eastwood will now move from being a director on the trustee board of one of the UK’s largest defined benefit (DB) schemes to chairman.

Harris stepped down at the end of March after nine years as chairman and 14 years on the board.

Eastwood, vice-chancellor at the University of Birmingham, joined the USS board in 2007 and will now be replaced by Anton Muscatelli of the University of Glasgow.

Eastwood became vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham in April 2009.

Former posts include chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia (UEA) and chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Board.

He was originally appointed by the Universities UK organisation, the representative group for USS sponsoring employers.

Retired Harris joined the UK’s largest scheme as a director in April 1991, when he served as vice-chancellor of the University of Essex.

He became deputy-chair of the £41.6bn (€57bn) pension fund in 2004, taking over as chairman two years later.

In his final months as chair of the scheme, Harris oversaw a debate between the employers group and trade unions over the future of the scheme.

The current proposals, set to be implemented by the USS board, include fully closing the final salary section of the DB fund and moving all members’ future accrual to career-average benefits.

USS opened a career-average section for new employees in 2011, accounting for one-third of the scheme’s members.

In addition to dropping final salary benefits for academics, the fund will become a hybrid scheme with defined contribution accrual for all entitlements above a £55,000 earnings cap.

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