Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor
The Chancellor is the University’s most senior officer and its ambassador, presiding over degree ceremonies and attending University events.
Chancellor: Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho was installed as the sixth Chancellor of The Open University at the Milton Keynes degree ceremony on 10th September 2014, succeeding Lord Puttnam who stepped down after seven years in the role.
Martha Lane Fox has built her career around the digital world, making her mark as one of the founders of the internationally recognised leisure and travel website, LastMinute.com.
From 2009 she served as the government’s UK Digital Champion, leading a drive to get more people and services engaged with the online world and in 2012 she launched a charity – Go ON UK – which aims to plug the digital skills gap among British adults.
Martha spoke of her passion for technology and learning during her inaugural speech: “I have tried my whole life to put technology at the heart of what I do – and open it up to as many people as possible. With lastminute.com we were battling to make people believe that the internet was going to exist - we fought to encourage people the internet was here to stay.
"It set me on a journey which I carry on to this minute – trying to encourage people that technology can help them in their daily lives. I’ve seen again and again, the incredible impact that technology can have. That is why this university is so special – right at the heart of it is the idea that technology can help open up the world’s learning; to create a level playing field.”
In addition to her work with the government, Martha is a non-executive board member of television company Channel 4 and retailer Marks & Spencer, as well as a patron for human rights charity Reprieve.
Last year her contribution to charity and furthering technology was recognised with the award of a CBE; she became youngest woman ever to sit in the House of Lords as she was made a life peer.
Focussing on the achievements of other ground-breaking women at the OU she cited Jennie Lee as a heroine, quoting the OU founder: “Oh pioneers, here is a great independent university, which does not insult any man or any woman from any background, by offering them second best. Nothing but the best is good enough; you’re the best, go out and do even better.”
Previous Chancellors of The Open University, with dates of office
- David Puttnam (Baron Puttnam), 2006-2014
- Betty Boothroyd (Baroness Boothroyd), 1994-2006
- Asa Briggs (Baron Briggs), 1978-1994
- Gerald Gardiner (Baron Gardiner), 1973-1978
- Geoffrey Crowther (Baron Crowther). 1969-1972
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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