New Chancellor calls for Higher Education to lead the way on sustainability

Posted on 08 February 2012
Universities are not just big businesses that should be making their estate more sustainable, but are in the unique position of being able to educate future generations and drive research into the sustainability and environmental agenda."

Jonathon Porritt, the eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development, is being officially installed as the new Chancellor at Keele University on Thursday 9th February.

He will be the University’s fourth Chancellor and succeeds Professor Sir David Weatherall, who has retired after nine years. His installation as Chancellor is the first official event in Keele’s 50th Anniversary year.

Jonathon Porritt said:"I am hugely honoured to have been asked to become the next Chancellor of Keele University. 
I have enjoyed many contacts with the University over the last 15 years, and have been very impressed at the commitment shown by the Vice-Chancellor and many other members of staff in demonstrating real leadership on sustainability issues. 

 “Now is a very interesting time to be getting involved in the Higher Education sector and it’s important that my role as Chancellor at Keele is not just about challenging the university, but about challenging the sector as a whole, particular in regards to sustainability.

“Universities are not just big businesses that should be making their estate more sustainable, but are in the unique position of being able to educate future generations and drive research into the sustainability and environmental agenda.

“Universities are meant to be the thought leaders of society and if they don’t lead the way, there is a risk that less independent voices fill the vacuum with their own agenda on the subject of sustainability, rather than insight based on robust research.

“With the financial future set to remain bleak for some time, this is a gritty and challenging context that we are faced with, but it is essential that universities like Keele stay focused and thrive through these difficult times.”

Professor Nick Foskett, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, said: “We welcome Jonathon Porritt as our new Chancellor. He is an internationally renowned environmentalist, author and commentator on sustainability who will be an inspiration to our students and staff alike.

“Jonathon is hugely respected globally for his work on sustainable development, I know his influence and guidance will cross all disciplines at Keele.

“Our students are encouraged to challenge convention and with Jonathon we will have a Chancellor who is not only widely respected for his views but is prepared to be outspoken on issues about which he is passionate.

“The challenging context of HE at present is ensuring that all universities look closely at their plans for the future. At Keele we feel confident that the high quality of our education and research will enable us to fulfil our strategy of being one of the UK’s leading campus-based university communities and as our Chancellor, Jonathon Porritt will advise, support and motivate us in the difficult  and uncertain times ahead.”

Rosie Weatherley, President of Keele University’s Student Union, adds: “Jonathon Porritt's distinguished career and strong advocacy of environmental and sustainability issues mean that he is a fantastic asset to the University.  Keele students have for generations stood up for what they believe to be right and Jonathon’s uncompromising commitment to this idea makes him a worthy new figurehead for the institution and a great ambassador for Keele. We welcome him to our community and believe that his integrity and values will make him an inspiring role model for our students.”

Jonathon Porritt is the Co-Founder of Forum for the Future.  Established in 1996, Forum for the Future is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, with 70 staff and over 100 partner organisations, including some of the world’s leading companies.

In addition, he is Co-Director of The Prince of Wales's Business and Sustainability Programme which runs seminars for senior executives around the world.  He is a Non-Executive Director of Wessex Water, and of Willmott Dixon Holdings.  He is a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, and is involved in the work of many NGOs and charities as Patron, Chair or Special Adviser.

He was formerly Director of Friends of the Earth (1984-90); co-chair of the Green Party (1980-83) of which he is still a member; chairman of UNED-UK (1993-96); chairman of Sustainability South West, the South West Round Table for Sustainable Development (1999-2001); a Trustee of WWF UK (1991-2005), a member of the Board of the South West Regional Development Agency (1999-2008).

He stood down as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission in July 2009 after nine years providing high-level advice to Government Ministers. Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.

His latest books are Capitalism As If The World Matters (Earthscan, revised 2007), Globalism & Regionalism (Black Dog 2008) and Living Within Our Means (Forum for the Future 2009).

Installation of Jonathon Porritt, CBE as Chancellor of Keele University February 2012 - Images by Keele University

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