Shami Chakrabarti is now Chancellor

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The respected human rights campaigner has been formally made Chancellor of the University.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and respected human rights campaigner, has been installed as Chancellor of the University.

The role is ceremonial, and the new Chancellor will give an annual lecture, preside over certain ceremonies, and act as an inspiration and ambassador for the University.

'The greatest accolade I've ever been given', was how Brookes' outgoing Chancellor Jon Snow described his role, as he handed over to his successor. Jon has been Chancellor for the last seven years.

In a ceremony in front of a packed lecture theatre, both Jon Snow and Shami Chakrabarti gave powerful, touching and self-deprecating speeches.

Reflecting on his time at Brookes, and promising to 'stay part of the family', Jon said that it had been 'seven years of genuine joy,' and that he had 'laughed a lot, learnt a lot, and loved every minute.' He said that 'in 35 years the whole experience of being at University has changed beyond recognition, and Brookes has been at the forefront of this change. There's no hierarchical snobbery here - everyone has a value.' He particularly praised the links Brookes has to the community, the city and the region.

In handing over his medal of office, Jon told the audience that they would now witness first hand the 'extra-ordinary human dynamo that is Shami Chakrabarti'.

As a lawyer and director of the campaigning organization Liberty, Shami said that she had admired Helena Kennedy all her adult life, and that both she and Jon would be impossible yet inspirational acts to follow.

The new Chancellor spoke movingly about universities as places of learning but also of freedom, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt's belief that 'human rights begin in small places close to home.' She said that as a 'scruffy campaigner' she couldn't begin to feel qualified enough to take on her new role, but that part of the reason we need universities is to 'give people opportunities and hope they live up to them.'