Dame Katherine Grainger to be next Chancellor of the University

Published: 9 March 2020

Britain's most decorated female Olympian will succeed Professor Sir Kenneth Calman in June

Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, is to be the next Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.

In June Dame Katherine will succeed Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, who has held the prestigious post since his election in 2006. She will be the first woman Chancellor of the University. She is the sole nominee for the post which means that there is no requirement to hold an election. Dame Katherine is currently Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, a post she will relinquish when she takes up her new position at Glasgow.Dame Katherine Grainger

The Chancellor is the titular head of the University and is elected to the post by the General Council – all graduates and established academic staff. The Chancellor confers degrees upon those who are presented to them by the Senate but appoints a Vice-Chancellor to do this in his or her absence: this is currently the Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli.

Dame Katherine won a gold and four silver medals for rowing at five successive Olympic Games – the only woman ever to achieve the latter. In her rowing career, she also won eight medals at the World Championships, including six golds.

This outstanding sporting success has been twinned with high-level academic achievement. Glasgow-born, she is a graduate of the University, obtaining an MPhil from Glasgow as well as an LL.B from Edinburgh and a PhD from King’s College London. The last of these was, remarkably, achieved in the same year as she won her gold medal at the London Olympics. Dame Katherine’s sporting achievement has also been marked by a growing contribution to social development through sport. She is a board member of International Inspiration, a charity that promotes sport and play for children from low-income families across the world, and has worked with the British Olympic Association; in 2017 she was appointed Chair of UK Sport.Katherine Grainger Hon Grad 650

She has also received public recognition for her many achievements, with appointment as MBE, CBE and, in 2017, DBE for services to sport and charity. In Scotland alone she has received honorary degrees from the Robert Gordon, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities, as well as Glasgow, where she was also Young Alumnus of the Year in 2012. She has emphasised that one of her priorities upon taking up the post will be to work closely with the University’s student body.

Sir Anton said: “I am delighted to welcome Dame Katherine as the next Chancellor of this University and know she will bring to the post a strong social conscience, dedication to our cherished principles of inclusivity and real enthusiasm for our vision for the future. I should like to express my gratitude to Sir Kenneth for the wonderful support he has given to this University over the past 14 years. His contribution has been truly outstanding and I doubt if we could have achieved as much as we have without his wise counsel and support. We shall miss him greatly.”

Dame Katherine said: “I feel a wonderful mixture of excitement, joy, anticipation and enthusiasm at the prospect of becoming Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. More than those feelings, however, I feel immensely honoured and privileged to have been given the opportunity to fill such a role.

"Glasgow is where I was born and went to school. It will always hold a very special place in my heart. The years I spent at the University gaining a Master of Philosophy were happy and rewarding years. During that time, as I learned more about the University and its standards, values and strengths, I increasingly admired it. I have absolutely no doubt that as I get to know the University even better, my respect will continue to grow.

"I look forward immensely to getting to know the staff and the students and will work hard to repay the chance given to me to take up such a fantastic role at my highly revered alma mater.”

Scott Kirby, President of the Students’ Representative Council, added: “I am absolutely thrilled at Dame Katherine’s appointment as Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. As an awe-inspiring role model and one of our prestigious alumni, we truly are welcoming a world-changer back to this University. Dame Katherine is an outstanding figure in the world of sport, and to have her back as a key part of this University is incredibly exciting. Not only that, but the appointment of a female to the position of Chancellor for the first time since 1451 has been long overdue, and I wholeheartedly welcome this. I sincerely look forward to Dame Katherine’s contribution to the University and to the lives of our students.”

Dr David Duncan, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Glasgow, added: “Dame Katherine’s appointment is an excellent one for the University. Not only is she the University’s first female Chancellor, she is one of the most talented people in the UK in many walks of life. She will be a tremendous ambassador for the University of Glasgow, and we look forward to welcoming her back to one of her alma maters.”


First published: 9 March 2020