Leading children’s author Professor Dame Jacqueline Wilson has been confirmed as the new Chancellor of the University of Roehampton, a ceremonial role she said she was ‘honoured’ to accept.
Posted: 29 October 2014
Professor Wilson has had a long association with the University, and teaches masterclasses in children’s literature. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007, a year later she was appointed as a professorial fellow and she has been one of four pro-chancellors since 2011.
During the hour-long installation ceremony, West End stars Luke Potter and Alex Hearne, who are performing in an adaptation of Dame Jacqueline’s book Hetty Feather, at the Vaudeville Theatre, gave a surprise musical performance of a song written for JWubbs, as they called her.
Local children from the Sacred Heart primary school in Roehampton Lane welcomed Dame Jacqueline on behalf of the community, and sang Over the Rainbow. Students and alumni read from Professor Wilson’s children’s books, and a performance created especially for the event was performed by the University’s dance graduates.
Professor Wilson, a former children’s laureate who created characters including Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and most recently Opal Plumstead, said: “I’m so honoured to serve as Chancellor at Roehampton, it is so special for me, because the University is such a warm and welcoming place. Over the Rainbow is one of my favourite songs and I am very pleased to have the children from Sacred Heart here. I’ve been to several other universities to collect awards, but Roehampton has always been my favourite.
"I particularly like that it is such a relaxed place, even though it achieves such good academic results. It is a very special university, and it has been doing so well, with the best ever National Student Survey results, and being described by the Sunday Times as the Best new university in London."
She replaces veteran BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, who stepped down from the Chancellorship after nine years, following the University’s graduation ceremonies in July.
More than 300 students, staff and civic dignitaries including Cllr Stuart Thom, the Mayor of Wandsworth, took part in the hour-long ceremony, at the University’s Digby Stuart College chapel.
Professor Paul O’Prey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Roehampton, described Dame Jacqueline as a ‘brilliant teacher’ and said: “I’m absolutely delighted Dame Jacqueline has become our Chancellor; she has brought a real sense of enthusiasm to Roehampton, and has helped establish us as one of the leading universities for children’s literature. Many of our students will have grown up with her characters Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather, so I am in no doubt that they will be equally delighted at having a Chancellor who they must feel is a childhood friend.”
Dame Jacqueline OBE, DBE, has published 100 children’s books, which have sold more than 35 million copies. Her most recent book, Opal Plumstead was published by Random House on 9 October.
The ceremonial role at Roehampton will include promoting the University at home and abroad and through the media, greeting official guests, and officiating at graduation ceremonies.
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