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26th October 2015

Lemn Sissay installed as Chancellor

Lancashire-born poet Lemn Sissay has been officially inaugurated into his position as figurehead of the university

On Wednesday the 14th of October, local poet Lemn Sissay was inaugurated as Chancellor of the University of Manchester.

Sissay, who was elected by university alumni, staff, and members of the General Secretary in June, took over from property developer Tom Bloxham, founder of urban development company Urban Splash.

Sissay received 7,131 votes, beating the other candidates for the role—Labour politician Peter Mandelson, who gained 5,483, and Music Director at the Hallé Orchestra Sir Mark Elder.

He officially started as Chancellor on the 1st of August, but received formal inauguration at the Foundation Day celebrations last week, in which he also received an honorary doctorate, alongside journalist and presenter Baroness Joan Bakewell; physicist Professor Dame Athene Donald; theatre and film director Sir Nicholas Hytner; and judge Dame Janet Smith.

Sissay said: “My primary aim is to inspire and be inspired. Reach for the top of the tree and you may get to the first branch, but reach for the stars and you’ll get to the top of the tree.”

He starred in two university-produced promotional videos—one of which featured a poem, ‘Inspire and Be Inspired’, which he wrote especially for the inauguration. He also took a selfie with Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell during the proceedings.

“Foundation day is over but the journey has just begun” tweeted Sissay after the event.

For the next seven years, Sissay will act as a figurehead for the university, representing it to the world and promoting its work. He will also attend each graduation to shake the hand of every single graduate.

Photo: @lemnsissay @Flickr

“When you leave somewhere you take it with you,” he said. “I would not want everyone who has studied at this great institution to stay here. I want them to go out and experience the world and come back.

“We are a migratory species. We are, by nature, migrants.”

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