Former student takes top uni role

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The third Chancellor of Lancaster University was officially ‘installed’ at a special ceremony on campus on Wednesday.

Lancaster University graduate Alan Milburn succeeds mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, who was also at Wednesday’s event.

The installation ceremony in the Great Hall saw Vice-Chancellor Prof Mark E. Smith make the official appointment of the university’s new ceremonial head in front of an audience of invited guests.

After a lunch for 190 guests to mark the occasion, the newly appointed Chancellor opened the university’s new, multi million pound engineering building. Later in the day he attended an afternoon tea to meet university staff before giving an evening public lecture at The Dukes.

Mr Milburn, the Labour MP for Darlington (1992 to 2010), served 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.

He is now the chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and runs his own consultancy, advising governments and corporations worldwide. He is also involved in a variety of charitable projects.

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.

Speaking at his installation Mr Milburn, a former Pendle College student, said he was honoured to accept the role of Chancellor.

He said: “From its humble beginnings in 1964, Lancaster has gone on to have a profound impact not just on this lovely city and the wider region but across our country and far beyond. “Lancaster is punching far above its weight – on virtually any measure - in its research capabilities, in its teaching standards, in its student experience and employability scores, in its national and global league tale rankings – and it is doing so without compromise to the essence and ethos of its founding principles – that this should be a university open to all with talent and potential.

“The engagement of local schools, councils, colleges, employers and benefactors – alongside the support of our alumni, our students and their families – is the foundation on which the university can fulfil our ambition to be more than a top 10 UK university but to be in the top 100 worldwide.”

Mr Milburn is Lancaster’s third Chancellor, following founding Princess Alexandra and Sir Chris Bonington.