Our Chancellor

While the coronavirus pandemic may have kept our Chancellor, Dr Annie Lennox, from joining us on campus, a series of personal video messages illustrated that the University’s students and staff were never far from her heart. 

The Royal Academician, singer-songwriter, activist and philanthropist said: "This is such an unprecedented time. We're all sort of on pause for the time being, and perhaps it would be a nice idea to share with you all the things that inspire me."  

Dr Lennox then delivered a spellbinding performance of her song A Thousand Beautiful Things, after which she urged us to “be safe, be well, be strong and be positive”.

Our Chancellor also shared a powerful message to help mark International Women's Day. A clarion voice in global feminism, Dr Lennox called on each of us to work together to promote feminism and make the world a better place.   

She said: “I am proud to be a global feminist and proud to be part of a university recognised as one of the best in the world when it comes to the promotion of gender equality and inclusion. If we work together we can change misogynistic attitudes and behaviour, challenge gender-based violence and empower girls and women at every level. Let’s all work together to promote global feminism and make the world a better place.”  

And, when the pandemic led to the pausing of our graduation celebrations, Dr Lennox reached out again – literally this time – as she virtually ‘doffed’ our students. Leaning into her screen, she urged each of our graduates to “Please bow your head and I will reach out and virtually turn you into a wonderful graduate” in a playful recreation of the time-honoured symbolic capping that transforms our scholars into graduates.  

Chancellor Lennox told them: “This is not the way we would have envisaged your graduation but take a moment to acknowledge your hard work and dedication. Feel proud of yourselves for reaching this memorable milestone. The world is waiting for you – become inspired and be inspirational. Live your life to the best of your abilities.” 

Chancellor Lennox joined the London City Voices choir for an online performance of Purcell’s Dido’s Lament to raise awareness of climate change. 

As well as being a fitting elegy for the uncertain times of 2020, their contemporary version of the powerfully melancholic aria highlighted the work of Greenpeace and other climate change activists including Chancellor Lennox. 

She said: “When it comes to climate catastrophe, we are on the edge of the abyss. I really believe we don’t have much time left to make an effective change. We are looking at a civilisation on the downwards slide. This is the truth of this matter. It’s staring us in the face and we are not paying any significant attention – continuing on as if it doesn’t exist. I see ‘Dido’s Lament’ as a lament for our dying planet.”