Media Release

09 July 2009

New Chancellor for Queen’s

Queen’s University Belfast’s new Chancellor is to be the international statesman Kamalesh Sharma. He succeeds Senator George Mitchell who stepped down in March following his appointment to head up the United States’ peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.

His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma is currently Commonwealth Secretary General and former Indian High Commissioner in London.

Pro-Chancellor Sir David Fell, chair of the University’s governing body which made the appointment, said: “Kamalesh Sharma is a worthy successor to Senator Mitchell. He is an exceptional figure who has served his country at the highest level and whose leadership skills have been recognized by the 53 member states which make up the Commonwealth.

As High Commissioner in London, he cemented close links between Northern Ireland and India - it is a relationship which has resulted in India becoming the second largest inward investor in the Northern Ireland economy.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "Building global networks is central to economic regeneration in Northern Ireland and expansion of its academic horizons, and, rightly, that is a primary objective of the Programme for Government.

The wealth of experience and the diverse interests which Kamalesh Sharma brings to the role of Chancellor will resonate with many areas of the University.

As an acknowledged world leader in crucial areas of research, and with an international staff and student base, Queen’s is an important international hub for the region. Kamalesh Sharma’s appointment, in his personal capacity, will help Queen’s and the region establish deeper and richer international relationships which bring real benefits to Northern Ireland."

Mr Sharma retired from the Indian Foreign Service in 2001, serving as India’s permanent representative to the United Nations. From 2002 to 2004 he was the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to East Timor. He was appointed India’s High Commissioner in London in 2004 before his election as Secretary General of the Commonwealth in 2007.

Speaking after his appointment, the Chancellor-designate said: "I am enormously proud to be invited to serve Queen’s University and look forward to contributing towards strengthening its internationalist outlook.

Queen’s is a forward-looking institution which recognizes that in today’s world there are no borders; rather we are all part of a common humanity. The University’s research has made a dramatic impact on the world. I hope that I will be able to help the University, its staff and students, and the wider community it serves, become even better connected to the world in which we live."

The new Chancellor will be installed at a special ceremony.


Notes to editors

1. Kamalesh Sharma is an alumnus of Modern School, New Delhi, St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and King’s College Cambridge. He taught English before joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1965. He was elected Commonwealth Secretary General during the biennial Commonwealth summit in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2007, succeeding Sir Donald McKinnon in April 2008.

2.The Chancellor is the titular head of the University, presiding over congregations for the conferment of degrees and leading other ceremonial occasions. He can also be called on to provide advice to the Vice-Chancellor and other senior officers, on occasion. Although entitled to preside at meetings of the University’s governing body, Senate, the chair is normally taken by one of the University’s Pro-Chancellors.

3. Kamalesh Sharma succeeds a number of distinguished Chancellors including: Field Marshall Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke; Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the distinguished theatre director; Lord Ashby of Brandon, the educationalist and former Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s; industrialists Sir Rowland Wright and Sir David Orr; and, most recently, Senator George Mitchell.

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