University’s new Chancellor to be Gyles Brandreth.

Posted on 8th December 2016

The University of Chester has announced that one of the staunchest supporters of the benefits of higher education for the city of Chester is to be its incoming Chancellor.

Former Chester MP, Gyles Brandreth, was a campaigner for the institution to be granted university status in the 1990s, 150 years after its foundation by the Church of England as the country’s first purpose-built teacher training college. This ambition was eventually realised in 2005, and he has followed the University’s progress since with keen interest.

He said: “I am hugely honoured by this appointment and looking forward to serving a university whose heritage I admire, whose growth and achievement have been extraordinary and whose future is so exciting.

“In a rapidly changing world, nothing is more important than education and the range and quality of what the University of Chester has to offer at undergraduate and post-graduate level is remarkable.

“Chester is a university of achievement and ambition and it's a great privilege to be invited to play a part in its ongoing story.”

Perhaps now best known for his BBC broadcasting career, with regular appearances on The One Show and Just a Minute, the Oxford graduate is also: a prolific author of both fictional, biographical and autobiographical works; an accomplished classical actor and musical performer; and a witty journalist and political diarist.

In public life, he was a Whip and Lord Commissioner of the Treasury in John Major’s Government. The ability to hold civil weddings at venues other than registry offices is thanks to Gyles Brandreth’s Private Member’s Bill (subsequently the 1994 Marriage Act).

As former Chairman and latterly Vice-President of Fields in Trust (formerly the National Playing Fields Association) he is a champion of open spaces. The many causes he endorses range from Third World, medical and homeless charities, to those benefiting pets and wildlife, and he is patron of a number of cultural activities and organisations.

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University in 2014, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts and to acknowledge his time as Chester’s elected representative.

The University’s first Chancellor was the late Duke of Westminster, who had served more than two five-year terms. His Grace had advised the University of his intention to stand down at the end of the current academic year.

Professor Tim Wheeler, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “We have been in the fortunate position of having two outstanding individuals, both absolutely passionate about their responsibilities towards society, as ambassadors for the University of Chester.

“Dr Brandreth is something of a Renaissance man, whose thirst for knowledge, abiding love of the English language, literature and history are matched by a sense of enthusiasm and fun and an understanding of the value of volunteering, which is very much in the spirit of the University and should appeal to our students and staff alike.

“We are proud and privileged that he has agreed to reinforce his connections with the University of Chester.”

Cherelle Mitchell, Chester Students’ Union President, added: “Chester Students’ Union would like to congratulate Gyles Brandreth on being appointed the University’s new Chancellor and we are looking forward to working with him.

“With his achievements and awards and experience of many different areas of professional life, we hope that Gyles Brandreth will be a positive role model for our students.”

The University’s students and staff were informed today of the appointment of Dr Brandreth to the honorary position of Chancellor. His formal consent to accept this office will take place at an official ‘installation’ ceremony at Graduation on March 17, 2017, after which he will assume his responsibilities.

The decision to approach Dr Brandreth was taken at the University’s Governance and Nominations Review Committee, and approved by its governors (University Council) on November 22.

The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, Lord Bishop of Chester, Lord President of the University Council and Pro-Chancellor, said: “Gyles Brandreth was an excellent MP for Chester and his varied interests and career and natural youthfulness, will enable him to relate well across the whole University.”

The voluntary role of Chancellor is primarily ceremonial, officiating at Graduation ceremonies and representing the University at other formal occasions. Chancellors can advise universities objectively, in the capacity of a ‘critical friend, drawing on their own professional experience.’ They are usually also chosen for their association with an institution, its work and its surrounding communities and have often held public office.