Welcome back, Professor Dame Jane Francis

Former Dean of the Faculty of Environment, and Director of British Antarctic Survey, Professor Dame Jane Francis, has been announced as the University's new Chancellor.

Professor Dame Jane Francis with penguins

A prominent polar scientist, Jane has conducted pioneering research – with numerous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic – and has undertaken a wide range of international roles to promote the UK’s polar interests.

Distinguished honours

Appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 2017 New Year Honours for her distinguished contributions to polar science and diplomacy, Jane is also a recipient of the Polar Medal, presented for outstanding polar research.

She has strong ties with the University, with a 22 year career at Leeds. She became Professor of Palaeoclimatology, Head of the School of Earth and Environment, and from 2008 – 2013, was Dean of the Faculty of Environment.

In 2014, the University awarded Jane an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

Professor Dame Jane Francis awarded as Honorary Doctorate of Science 2014

The role of Chancellor

The Chancellor acts as a figurehead and advocate for the University. Jane will preside over degree ceremonies and confer degrees, chair meetings of the University Court and support profile-raising events.

Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands says: “My warmest congratulations to Jane on becoming Chancellor. She will be an inspiration to students and staff, both as an academic with an exceptional track record in education and research, and as someone who has pushed the boundaries of human endeavour.

“Jane’s concern for the beauty and fragility of the Polar Regions and her commitment to addressing issues of global importance will inspire our students. She is the perfect ambassador for our achievements and aspirations, and we look forward to welcoming her back to Leeds.

Professor Jane Francis on a boatJane says: "I loved my time at Leeds and feel truly honoured to be back as Chancellor. Helping to inspire passion and achievement is what excites me in my work, and in this role I hope to be able to do just that.

"Leeds has grown from strength-to-strength in recent years, and I look forward to being able to give back and support the University in all its endeavours."

Jane succeeds Melvyn Bragg (Lord Bragg of Wigton) who stepped down this year, after 17 years in office.

Sir Alan Langlands continues: “On behalf of the University, I would also like to express sincere thanks to Melvyn Bragg for the energy, commitment and intellectual curiosity that he has brought to the role of Chancellor; helping us to raise our profile and promoting the interests and value of universities in public debate during a critical time for UK higher education.”

Melvyn Bragg added: “I’ve known and admired Jane for years and I am delighted by her appointment. I can’t think of a better choice. She is a top-class scientist; she has a real passion for the transformative power of universities; and she has empathy with students and staff alike. I’m sure Jane will make a great Chancellor.”

Appointing the Chancellor

Jane was appointed by the University’s Court on Friday 8 December, having been nominated by the University’s Council.

Jane will be installed as the Chancellor in a ceremony in 2018.

Further information:

Read more about the British Antarctic Survey.

Earlier this year Jane was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.  The programme is still available to listen to on iPlayer Radio.

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