The first woman to hold the position at Essex, she joins the University in its golden anniversary year, as it celebrates 50 years of being at the forefront of progressive education and research.
Shami became Director of Liberty, the civil liberties and human rights organisation, in 2003, aged 34. She has gained a reputation for her fearless campaigning against increasingly severe anti-terrorist measures and the erosion of civil liberties.
Watch a video about the appointment here: https://vimeo.com/104717532
In 2007 Shami was awarded a CBE. In 2011, she was invited to be one of six independent assessors advising Lord Justice Leveson in his Public Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the UK Press. She was also chosen as one of only eight Olympic Flag carriers at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
In 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and, earlier this year, she was included in The Sunday Times’ 100 Makers of the 21st Century list. She worked as a lawyer in the Home Office before joining Liberty in 2001, and is a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple.
Her book, On Liberty, which explores why our fundamental rights and freedoms are indispensable and highlights current threats to our democratic institutions, will be published next month.
Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “Shami Chakrabarti is a tenacious advocate of civil liberties and promoting human rights, prepared to confront injustice and someone who is making the world a better place.
“I am delighted Shami is our fifth Chancellor – she is a shining example of the values the University of Essex holds dear and she will be an inspiration for all members of our University community.”
Shami Chakrabarti said: ‘The University of Essex has a proud tradition of teaching human rights and respect for the rule of law. I am delighted to be joining this institution that shares so many of the values we hold at Liberty. At a time when our freedoms are under increasing attack, we need our young people to be equipped with the tools to defend them.’
Awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Essex in 2006, Shami returned to the University in 2007 to give the Essex Law Lecture. In 2008 she launched and became Patron of the Essex Law Clinic, which allows law students to gain experience by offering free legal advice to members of the public under the supervision of qualified legal practitioners.
At Essex she succeeds Lord Phillips of Sudbury, who stood down in July 2013, and follows in the footsteps of former Chancellors Lord Rab Butler of Saffron Walden, Sir Patrick Nairne, and Baron Nolan of Brasted.
She joins Essex as its launches its 50th anniversary with a celebration weekend on 12-14 September. Since its foundation in 1964, the University has achieved international recognition, ranking 22nd in the world for universities aged under 50, in the top ten in the UK for research quality and top for social science.
Shami will also continue to serve her term of office as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University for the forthcoming academic year until July 2015.