As we enter the festive season we have another reason to celebrate; the installation of our first ever Chancellor, Lord Kestenbaum.
When I first joined the University, I asked to meet our Chancellor and was surprised to hear that we didn’t have one and indeed had never had one! That’s quite unusual – typically the post-‘92s adopted a Chancellor as they secured university title. So, given our Chancellor would be our first Chancellor and someone who would define the role with us, we have taken our time to elaborate our thinking. We wanted to find a special person – the right person, and someone who shares our values and sense of purpose. We also wanted to stay true to our pioneering spirit and not look at the ‘typical’ suspects. We wanted our new Chancellor to embody our enterprise mission and connect with our social purpose to advance knowledge and transform lives through education and research. So, the hunt was on!
So, you might ask – how did we arrive at Lord Kestenbaum? Well, our relationship with Jonathan Kestenbaum has in fact developed over many years and was initially recognised by us through the award of an Honorary Doctorate in Technology back in 2010. Since then he has continued to acquaint himself with our University and our students and staff and has become deeply involved with our care leavers programme. His interests in the transformational nature of education and experience in promoting innovation across many areas in different fields align with our enterprise vision and sense of being connected to the communities we serve. Jonathan shares our strong sense of ambition and believes that what we do here matters – in fact he shared with me that our University has touched his heart.
This year – a year when we were ranked in the World’s Top 300 universities and confirmed as a top performing ‘green’ university, and some 21 years since gaining university title, it feels like we are ‘coming of age’. And so the time feels right to move to appoint our first Chancellor.
Jonathan will be a passionate and influential Chancellor who will help us on our journey from being a good university to becoming a great one, telling our story and sharing all the amazing things our students and staff do that change lives for the better through his networks in the UK and overseas. He will help us draw together key influencers and networks in government and industry, championing our enterprise agenda while also supporting our philanthropy efforts and international programmes.
Jonathan has his own business interests, along with supporting his family and honouring his Arsenal season ticket! So we will see Jonathan during the year and at our graduation ceremonies – but perhaps not on match day! But I think it is quite telling that after his installation as our Chancellor he spent the following day meeting staff and students, visiting some of our specialist facilities and generally immersing himself in what we do. That’s a good sign and tells me we made the right choice.
I am delighted to welcome Jonathan as Plymouth University’s first Chancellor and I know you will extend to him the friendly welcome we are known for and support him in his ambassadorial and ceremonial duties on our behalf.