Aston appoints new chancellor

18 October 2004

Aston appoints new chancellor

SIR MICHAEL BETT, CBE, is officially appointed as Chancellor of Aston University at an installation ceremony held at the University, Thursday 21 October.

Sir Michael takes over the roles and responsibilities of Sir Adrian Cadbury who stands down after 25 years' distinguished service at Aston.

The installation ceremony itself is an occasion that has happened just twice before. In addition to the University's own students and staff it will be attended by academics from the region's other higher education institutions and a wide range of friends from industry, business and commerce and public sector organisations.

Demonstrating its accessible approach the University is also engaging the wider community by arranging for the official ceremony to be broadcast live from 10.30am on the BBC's big screen in Victoria Square in Birmingham city centre. Uniquely, this is the first time that a British university has involved its community in this way.

On his appointment, Sir Michael said: 'First, I pay tribute to Sir Adrian Cadbury who has served Aston University with great distinction as Chancellor for a quarter of a century; he has set the highest standards which I hope to maintain.

'For my part I am looking forward immensely to meeting the challenges which will face Aston in particular - and universities in general - during the next few years of significant change in higher education,' he added.

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For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Notes for editors

Sir Michael Bett graduated from Pembroke College, Cambridge with a BA in History in 1958; he became an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke in 2004.

In 1958 he embarked upon a 40 year career in industry and commerce, starting as a trainee at the Engineering Employers' Federation, and rising to become Director of Industrial Relations of GEC (group), 1972-77, Director of Personnel for the BBC, 1977-81, and Board Member for Personnel at BT, 1981-85.

He was appointed Managing Director, BT Operating Division (latterly called BTUK), 1985-91, becoming Deputy Chairman of (then) BT, 1991-94 and a non-executive Director of BT until 1996.

Following his retirement from BT, Sir Michael became First Commissioner for the Civil Service for five years until 2000. More recently, he has been asked to take on a number of non-executive directorships.

He has chaired and been a member of many government committees and enquiries covering, inter alia, the fields of health, the armed services and education. He was Chairman of the Social Security Advisory Committee, 1993-95, Chairman of the Nurses Pay Review Body, 1990-95, Chairman of the Armed Forces Independent Review on Manpower, 1994-95, and Chairman of the Independent Review of Pay and Conditions in Higher Education, 1997-99.

In the fields of culture and the arts, community, industry and education, as well as for charitable organisations, Sir Michael has occupied numerous roles. He was Director of the English Shakespeare Company, 1988-95, Chairman, One World Broadcasting Trust, 1996-2002, President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 1992-98, and Chairman of the Save the Children Fund, 1992-97.

Prior to his appointment as chancellor of Aston University, 1 September 2004, Sir Michael was Pro-chancellor of Aston and Chairman of the University's Council from 1993-2003.

In 1990, Sir Michael was appointed CBE for his services to telecommunications and received his knighthood in 1995 for his services to training and personnel.

He has been married to his wife Lady Christine since 1959; they have three children and are now grandparents. Apart from his extensive charitable activities, Sir Michael is interested in the theatre and music and is a keen gardener.

Aston University

Aston University began as the Birmingham Municipal Technical School in 1895, where local people from the Gosta Green area and inner city could go to take evening classes in subjects such as chemistry, physics and engineering.

In the 1930s the popularity of the courses and the opportunities that were offered to the local people, gifted with engineering abilities, meant that the technical school had to relocate.

It was renamed to become the Birmingham Technical College before moving to the Gosta Green site, where Aston University is now situated.

Aston gained its university charter in 1966, and the first Chancellor, Lord Nelson of Stafford, took office. After Lord Nelson, the University appointed Sir Adrian Cadbury to oversee the next 25 years of activity and development.

With roots that go back generations the University retains very strong links with the city of Birmingham. Aston encourages local students from all kinds of backgrounds to gain a great opportunity to learn, but also to teach others through its mentoring scheme.

Students are encouraged to work with local schools and colleges, opening up the idea that high quality university education is accessible to a diverse student population and demonstrating that academic excellence and social inclusiveness can be recognised in parallel.

The installation of the Chancellor will see members of Senate and the University Council, retired professors and junior lecturers processing together, representing the four schools of academic study: Aston Business School, the School of Languages & Social Sciences, the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the School of Life & Health Sciences.

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