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University of Essex announces new Chancellor

The RtHon John Bercow MP will take on the role as sixth Chancellor of the university, succeeding Shami Chakrabarti

Posted by Charley Rogers | July 28, 2017 | People

The University of Essex is delighted to announce the appointment of Speaker of the House of Commons, The RtHon John Bercow MP, as our new Chancellor.

Grandson of Romanian immigrants, the son of a mini cab driver, the first in his family to go to university, and a Member of Parliament, John Bercow as Speaker has been a champion of equality and diversity in the House of Commons, for Parliamentary democracy and making the work of Parliament more accessible.

John graduated from Essex with a First Class Honours degree in Politics and is one of the University of Essex’s most well-known graduates.

His own experience has led him to be a passionate advocate for the transformational power of education, which he says helped him develop the skills and knowledge he needed to pursue his political career.

Appointed by the University’s Senate and Council, John will succeed Shami Chakrabarti who steps down from her role after the July 2017 graduation ceremonies following her appointment to the Shadow Cabinet.  

Although elected as a Conservative MP, as the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the Speaker is required to be non-partisan and to set aside their party affiliation. John was recently re-elected as Speaker for a third successive term of office.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “John exemplifies the Essex spirit and he has been a passionate supporter of our university for many years.

As a graduate of the university, I have always had a special place in my heart for Essex. Whenever I visit, I feel a surge of excitement and I am reminded of my fond memories of the place, which, more than any other place, changed my life.

“He brings to the role of Chancellor tremendous experience and a knowledge of what it is really like to be the first in your family to go to university and how higher education can inspire you, unlock your potential and help you fulfill your ambitions.”

John said: “I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be appointed Chancellor of the University of Essex.

“As a graduate of the university, I have always had a special place in my heart for Essex. Whenever I visit, I feel a surge of excitement and I am reminded of my fond memories of the place, which, more than any other place, changed my life. 

“The University of Essex has a proud record of excellence in research and teaching alike. As someone who shares its hunger to innovate, improve and include more people of all backgrounds and nationalities, I am delighted to take up this role at such an exciting time for the university.”

Nominations for Chancellor were sought from across the university community including staff, students and alumni with the shortlist containing leading figures from the UK’s cultural and political life.

Chair of the university’s council David Currie said: “Council members were unanimous in their support of John Bercow’s appointment as our next Chancellor. He is a leading figure in the UK’s public life and he will be a great champion of the university in the years ahead.”

John has been an advocate for the University of Essex for many years. He was one of the signatories of the Commons motion to commemorate the University's 40th Anniversary, and the original launch for the University’s 50th Anniversary took place at the Speaker's House.

He has remained very engaged with the work of the university, most recently sharing his enthusiasm for tennis by officially opening the new tennis courts on the Colchester Campus. He also hosted a memorial event for the life of Professor Tony King in Parliament in June 2017. He received an Honorary Degree from the University in 2010.

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