Sheffield Hallam University’s new Chancellor has taken the ceremonial helm at the institution after being officially installed.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a leading criminal barrister and human rights champion, took part in the official installation ceremony at Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield city centre.
She takes over from Professor the Lord Robert Winston, who has been Chancellor for 17 years and is retiring this year.
A Labour peer in the House of Lords, Baroness Kennedy has spent much of her career fighting for the underdog and championing women’s rights and civil liberties, firmly believing in the power of education to transform lives.
During an impressive legal career she has acted in many high profile criminal trials including that relating to the Brighton bombing attack on the British cabinet in 1986, the successful Guildford Four appeal in 1989 and the Michael Bettaney espionage case in 1984. She also acted as junior counsel for Moors murderer Myra Hindley at her 1974 trial for plotting to escape from Holloway Prison.
Speaking about her appointment Baroness Kennedy said: “I have always been very interested in widening participation and I have been committed to the business of giving opportunities to people to access higher education who might not have expected it to be in their families. That was my background and higher education changed my life. I love the fact that Sheffield Hallam really does do that in a very serious way.
“Over the last three years I’ve got to know what Sheffield Hallam does and I liked it, so when I was approached about being Chancellor, I was delighted because it really does speak to my heart and the things that I care about.
“I love Sheffield, it’s nice to be here, it’s going to be a wonderful experience.”
Baroness Kennedy QC already has a well-established relationship with Sheffield Hallam University as patron of its Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice. She was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University in 2014.
Welcoming Baroness Kennedy QC to the University, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Chris Husbands said: “Our vision is to become the world’s leading applied university, transforming lives and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds. I am really looking forward to working with Helena to help bring this plan to fruition.
“Her track record and commitment to education speaks for itself. She is a formidable person and her insight and knowledge will be invaluable to Sheffield Hallam and the wider region.
“I would also like to express my thanks, and that of the University, to Professor the Lord Winston. His service as our Chancellor for the past seventeen years has been remarkable, during which time his commitment to Sheffield Hallam, our students and wider community, has been outstanding.”
Professor the Lord Winston said: “It has been an extraordinary honour to serve as the Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University during the last 17 years. During that time, I have seen the university grow in stature and flourish.
“I have been humbled by meeting tens of thousands of our students at their graduation. I have constantly been most proud at their success and have watched their progress with the deepest admiration.
“This university is increasingly influential and I look forward to seeing it continue ever upwards. I am truly delighted that Helena Kennedy is taking on this privileged role as its chancellor. The university could not have chosen a wiser or a better human being.
“It remains to me to thank the excellent staff and the university community for their warmth and massive support during my appointment.”