A day to remember at Oxford Brookes

Oxford Brookes will host a series of special events on Friday 20 March to celebrate the inauguration of Dr Katherine Grainger CBE as Chancellor of the University.


Dr Katherine Grainger’s three predecessors will join students, staff and specially invited guests at the ceremony.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow and Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti CBE will also join Dr Katherine Grainger in officially opening the award winning John Henry Brookes Building.

Since opening in February 2014, the building has won a number of awards including a national award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). RIBA considered it to be one of the top 15 buildings in making the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year.

Following these two momentous ceremonies, Oxford Brookes’ three previous Chancellors will be speaking as part of the University’s 150th Anniversary Lecture Series for a sold out debate entitled On Liberty, Magna Carta and our future. 

In a wide ranging discussion, the three ex-Chancellors will speak on our fundamental rights and freedoms and the unprecedented pressures they currently face.

Speaking ahead of the special day, Dr Katherine Grainger CBE commented: “It is a tremendous honour to become the Chancellor for a University which has an international reputation for its teaching excellence and innovation.

“It will be particularly special for my inauguration to be in the company of my three predecessors who played a key role in the ongoing success of the University and continue to be inspirational figures. The official opening of the John Henry Brookes Building is another significant moment for the University and I know that it has already had a hugely positive impact on students, staff and the wider community.

“I can’t wait to get started as Chancellor in this momentous 150th anniversary year for Oxford Brookes and being a part of the future of this fantastic institution.”

Shami Chakrabarti CBE said: “It has been a pleasure to serve as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes for the past seven years. This special day for the University is the perfect opportunity to pass on the baton for what is an extraordinary and inspiring role. Katherine is the perfect choice as the next Chancellor of Oxford Brookes, epitomising excellence, endeavour and the positive values that are so important to the University’s tradition and future.”

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice Chancellor, said: “We are very blessed to have an illustrious history of distinguished Chancellors who have inspired our students, staff and graduates. It is an honour and a privilege to add Katherine to this list. Students, staff and partners of the University are thrilled by the appointment and I personally look forward to working with Katherine in the years ahead.”


For further information and to confirm attendance at the event, please contact Matthew Butler, Senior Media and Communications Manager for Oxford Brookes University, on 01865 484630 or m.butler@brookes.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

Dr Katherine Grainger CBE

Katherine is best known for her significant sporting achievements. Having won three Olympic silver rowing medals in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, she fulfilled her ultimate ambition of winning Olympic gold at London 2012. This makes Katherine the only British female athlete from any sport to win medals in four consecutive Olympic Games. Her services to rowing were recognised in the 2013 New Year’s Honours when she was awarded a CBE.

Already a dedicated supporter of the Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneur Awards, Katherine received an honorary degree from the University in 2014. Katherine follows in the tradition of Brookes Chancellors by being passionate about human rights and, in particular, those of offenders. She recently completed her PhD at King’s College London, which focused on the implications of whole-life prison sentences. Katherine will become Chancellor of Oxford Brookes on 20 March 2015.

Screenshot 2015-03-20 09.58.31

Shami Chakrabarti CBE

Shami has been Director of Liberty – the National Council for Civil Liberties – since September 2003. A Barrister by background, she was called to the Bar in 1994 and worked as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 until 2001 for Governments of both persuasions. Shami was Chancellor of Oxford Brookes from 2008 until 20 March 2015.

Jon Snow

Jon Snow is an award-winning journalist, currently working for ITN News and is best known as the longest-serving presenter of Channel 4 News. Jon has reported on world-changing events from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the release of Nelson Mandela and the inauguration of President Obamaa. Jon was Chancellor of Oxford Brookes from 2001-2008.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

One of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers, Baroness Kennedy spent her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights. Helen was Chancellor of Oxford Brookes from 1994-2001.

Professor Alistair Fitt,

Professor Fitt became the Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in February 2015. Alistair was previously Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange and joined Oxford Brookes in March 2011 from the University of Southampton where he worked for 22 years, latterly as the Head of the School of Mathematics and then Pro Vice-Chancellor for International.

Set in a historic student city, Oxford Brookes is one of the UK’s leading universities and enjoys an international reputation for teaching excellence and innovation as well as strong links with business and industry. More information is available on the Oxford Brookes website at www.brookes.ac.uk

Further information on Oxford Brookes’ 150th Anniversary, and what is happening in 2015, can be found on the University’s website.

Further information on the award-winning John Henry Brookes Building, based on the University’s Headington Campus, can be found on the Space to Think webpages.

 John Henry Brookes Building Exterior web image