Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor

The Chancellor is the University’s most senior officer and its ambassador, presiding over degree ceremonies and attending University events.

Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho was appointed Chancellor of The Open University in March 2014, and takes up formal duties in September 2014.

Chancellor: Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho

Martha Lane Fox has built her career around the digital world, making her mark as one of the founders of LastMinute.com.

For more than four years she served as the government’s UK Digital Champion, leading a drive to get more people and services engaged with the online world. In 2012 she launched a charity – Go ON UK – which aims to plug the digital skills gap among British adults. Last year she joined the House of Lords and recently led a debate on the 25th anniversary of the world wide web.

In addition to her work with the government, Martha has served on the boards of Channel 4 and Marks & Spencer and is patron of several charities. She is also helping to finance the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Her appointment was approved by a joint meeting of the University’s Council and the Senate on Tuesday 11 March 2014. Martha said: “I have seen how technology can transform the way we do things – from shopping to socialising to studying. The Open University has an astonishing track-record of using of new and emerging technologies to make higher education available to all people around the world. Its ethos of inclusion and access is something I respect hugely. I am extremely excited about this appointment and can’t wait to start meeting students.”

Martha will be formally installed as Chancellor of the OU and take up her formal duties from September 2014.

Previous Chancellors of The Open University, with dates of office

Pro-Chancellor: Baron Haskins of Skidby

The primary role of the Pro-Chancellor is Chair of the OU's Council. The Pro-Chancellor also steps in on occasion as Chief Presiding Officer at degree ceremonies. Our current Pro-Chancellor is Christopher Haskins, Baron Haskins of Skidby, to be replaced by Richard Gillingwater at the end of 2014 after 10 years in the role.

Christopher has had a long and distinguished business career, and was made a peer in 1998. He was Chairman of Northern Foods until 2002, having joined the organisation (then Northern Dairies) in 1962. He also served as Chairman, Better Regulation Task Force 1997-2002; Chairman of Express Dairies plc 1998-2002; Board member of Yorkshire Regional Development Agency 1998-2008; Chairman of European Movement 2003-2005; and Director of Yorkshire Television 2001-2004.

Christopher is currently a member of the Board of the Lawes Agricultural Trust, a Director of Montrose Associates, J.S.R. Farms Ltd and Quarryside Farms Ltd. As the OU’s Pro-Chancellor he is a member of the University’s Finance, Membership, Remuneration, and Strategic Planning and Resources Committees.

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