29 June 2012
Professor Muhammad Yunus
The world thought leader in social business and international anti-poverty campaigner, Professor Muhammad Yunus, is to be the new Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University. The Nobel Peace Prize winner succeeds Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, who has completed a distinguished five-year term of office.
Professor Yunus is the founder of the Grameen Bank, a global movement dedicated to alleviating poverty through micro-lending to those with the very least in society. His work has inspired young people around the world to devote themselves to social causes.
University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pamela Gillies said: “The University is truly honoured and delighted that Professor Muhammad Yunus has accepted our invitation to become Chancellor.
“Professor Yunus and the University have a shared commitment to promoting educational opportunities for talented young people from the most difficult of circumstances. He has pledged his inspirational leadership in support of the University’s undertaking to harness our intellectual, social and emotional capital and collaborate with others to find solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges. The whole University community warmly welcomes our new Chancellor, one of the world’s outstanding thought leaders.”
In accepting the invitation to take on the role of Chancellor, Professor Yunus said: “I would like to thank Glasgow Caledonian University for inviting me to accept this prestigious position. I look forward to building on the fruitful relationship that has already been established and has produced benefits which are helping to improve the quality of life for people in both our countries.”
Chair of Court, Tony Brian, said: “This is a wonderful appointment and testimony to the strength of our working relationship with Professor Yunus. He will be an excellent successor to Lord Macdonald of Tradeston who has held the office with such distinction.”
Professor Yunus already has a well-established working partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University. In March he announced at the University details of a new charity, the Grameen Scotland Foundation. The Foundation, supported by the Scottish Government, is the cornerstone of a microfinance bank branch in Glasgow designed to alleviate the economic, health and social inequalities in some of Scotland’s poorest communities. It will be precisely modelled on the Grameen Bank, which was founded in 1976 by Professor Yunus in Bangladesh and now operates in 100 countries, including the USA.
The announcement of the Foundation is the latest collaboration between GCU and Professor Yunus. In 2010, GCU opened the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Bangladesh to help bring nurse and midwifery training to an international standard in a country which is desperately short of nurses. GCU set up the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health the same year, which researches the impact of microcredit on the health and wellbeing of communities in Scotland and overseas.
Professor Yunus, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters of the University in 2008, delivered the inaugural Magnusson Fellowship Lecture, an annual event which was established in memory of GCU’s late Chancellor Magnus Magnusson, who was succeeded by Lord Macdonald in 2007.
Offering his best wishes to Professor Yunus, outgoing Chancellor Lord Macdonald said: “May his tenure be as enjoyable as mine.”
On Thursday Lord Macdonald presided over his final GCU graduation ceremony at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. The eminent journalist, broadcaster and politician said it had been a “great privilege to be Chancellor of such a flourishing University”.
Lord Macdonald enjoyed an award-winning career in television and newspapers before being elevated to the House of Lords in 1998. He served for five years as a government minister and now sits on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.
Reflecting on his term of office, Lord Macdonald hailed as the highlights of his tenure the launch of GCU London, GCU’s international achievements, and the work of the award-winning Caledonian Club to raise aspirations and support ambition in disadvantaged communities.
He said: “It has been a great privilege to be Chancellor of such a dynamic university. Presiding over graduation ceremonies was always a particular pleasure – welcoming thousands of happy students and proud families from all over the world to Glasgow. GCU is the only Scottish university which also has a campus in England, and I was delighted last week to take part in the graduation ceremony in London.
“Impressive international initiatives include a partnership campus in Oman, activity in China and a new nursing college in Bangladesh. The creation of the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health also furthers GCU’s mission to combat poverty and offer opportunities to those most in need.
“Another highlight is the success of our award-winning Caledonian Club which encourages schoolchildren and their families to become part of our GCU community from an early age, building confidence and encouraging their ambition.
“With my background in media, I am delighted that GCU has pioneered a Masters degree in Television Fiction Writing. My former colleagues at STV, Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus of Shed Warner Productions, have ensured widespread support for this ground breaking initiative across the TV industry.
“The last five years have been challenging for the higher education sector, but GCU has flourished under the dynamic leadership of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies and her executive team. I shall greatly miss the vitality of our students, the talent of our academic staff and the friendliness of all those whose efforts have made the University such a welcoming place to work.”