Former city student and Labour MP takes top uni role

Alan Milburn.
Alan Milburn.

The third Chancellor of Lancaster University will be officially ‘installed’ at a special ceremony on campus on Wednesday March 4.

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn actually became Chancellor of Lancaster University on January 1, when he succeeded the university’s second Chancellor, mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington.

Wednesday’s Installation Ceremony in the Great Hall will see Vice-Chancellor Prof Mark E. Smith make the official appointment of the new ceremonial head of the University in front of an audience of invited guests.

There will then be a special lunch on campus before the newly appointed Chancellor opens the university’s new, multi million pound Engineering Building.

Later in the day he will attend an afternoon tea to meet university staff before giving a public lecture that evening at The Dukes in Lancaster.

Mr Milburn, the chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and former Health Secretary, was Labour MP for Darlington (1992 to 2010) and now runs his own consultancy, advising governments and corporations worldwide.

He is also involved in a variety of charitable projects as diverse as working with Tony Blair in Africa, to acting as a trustee for Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

He credits the skills he learned at Lancaster, where he graduated in history in 1979, as a foundation for the whole of his working life and career.

He was later awarded an honorary degree in 2000.

He went on to serve within the UK Government as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Health (1999 and 2003) and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, before his resignation from party politics in 2010.

Former Pendle College student Mr Milburn said: “It is a privilege to become Chancellor of the university that gave me such strong foundations for my life and career. 

“Now, as then, Lancaster is leading the way in creating opportunities for young people to realise their aspirations in life. 

“I look forward to working with students and staff in making Lancaster University even more successful in future.” 

He will be Lancaster’s third Chancellor, the first being the founding Chancellor Princess Alexandra who served from 1964 to 2004 and was one of the longest serving university chancellors in the UK. Sir Chris Bonington was Chancellor of Lancaster University for a decade from 2005, and continues his involvement with the university in the new role of Chancellor’s Ambassador.

Prof Mark E. Smith said: “We are delighted to welcome Alan as Chancellor, especially as an alumnus.

“The university, like him, is committed to making sure that higher education is open to all young people to develop their talents, whatever their social or economic background.”