View all news

University of Bristol Chancellor to step down after 13 years

Lady Hale at the graduation celebration in Beijing earlier this year

Press release issued: 30 November 2015

The University of Bristol’s Chancellor, The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond, has announced that she will retire from the role at the end of next year.

Lady Hale, the UK's most senior female judge and the first woman Law Lord, will step down at the end of 2016 after 13 years as ceremonial head of the University.

Having formally advised the University’s Court of her intention, the process to gather nominations for her successor begins today.

Previous Chancellors include Sir Winston Churchill and Nobel Prize-winning scientist Professor Dorothy Hodgkin.

Lady Hale, who was officially installed as the University's seventh Chancellor on 12 March 2004, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chancellor of this great University.

"Everything about it is terrific – the students, whose energy and ability never cease to amaze me; the academic staff, whose scholarship is at the cutting edge of many disciplines; the support staff, many of whom have been with the University for a very long time; the leadership and administration, whose vision and resourcefulness have brought the University to its present world-ranking status; the alumni, who are amongst the most enthusiastic and generous of any in the country; the beautiful historic buildings, in which we take such pride; and the City of Bristol itself, which adds so much to the attractions the University has to offer. I shall miss them all but the time is ripe for me to take on a new challenge.”

During her 12 years as Chancellor to date, Lady Hale has presided over 67 degree ceremonies, and personally spoken to more than 16,500 graduating students. More recently, she’s flown to China to congratulate 350 new graduates in Beijing.

Lady Hale is known for her friendliness at graduations and, when students cross the stage to have their degree formally conferred, she won’t let go of their hand until she’s seen them smile.

On one occasion, a student and their parents arrived so late they had missed the ceremony, prompting Lady Hale to reassemble key ceremonial figures in the empty Great Hall for an impromptu graduation.

Denis Burn, Chair of Council, said: “Lady Hale has shown great commitment to the University during her time as Chancellor, and will be remembered for her warm and welcoming style during graduation ceremonies, managing to make them seem formal and intimate at the same time. Indeed, she’s a popular speaker at all events.

“Above all, we will miss her enthusiasm for the University and her pride in our students and alumni. On behalf of the University community, I wish to extend our thanks and gratitude for the incredible support she’s given over the last 12 years.”

The Chancellor serves as the ceremonial head of the University and plays an important ambassadorial role. They act as an advocate for the University, helping to raise its profile and advance its interests nationally and internationally.

Thanking Lady Hale for her immense contribution, Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol said: “I know that Lady Hale will continue to serve the University of Bristol for her remaining period with the same remarkable energy and commitment that have made her term as Chancellor such a success.  She has been a great champion for our University and when the time comes, she will leave Bristol with our heartfelt thanks.”

The process to find a successor now begins and suggestions are welcome from across the University community – including students, staff and alumni – via an online nomination form. The closing date is 31 January 2016.

A nominations panel, comprising staff and student representatives, will then make a recommendation to the University’s Council next year.

Edit this page