Press release issued 12 March 2004The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond was officially installed as the University of Bristol's seventh Chancellor at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building today [Friday, March 12]. Lady Hale succeeds Sir Jeremy Morse who retired as Chancellor at the end of 2003.
Lady Hale became one of the UK's 12 Law Lords in January 2004 - the only woman ever to hold such a position.
She studied Law at Cambridge and received a starred First for exceptional distinction in that subject. In 1966 she became an academic at the University of Manchester, eventually specialising in social welfare and family law. She also studied at the Bar, topping the list in the Bar finals in 1968 and then practising part time as a barrister.
In 1984, Brenda Hale became the youngest person and the first woman ever to be appointed to the Law Commission. Over the course of a decade she instigated a number of key reforms. She led the work that produced the Children Act 1989 - a radical re-casting of the relationship between parents, children and the State - and the important domestic violence legislation that formed part of the Family Law Act 1996. She was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1989, a High Court judge in 1994 (the first to be appointed direct from academia) and a Lady Justice of Appeal in 1999 - only the second woman to reach that position.
Lady Hale is a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford and visiting professor at King's College, London, as well as an honorary fellow at Girton, her old Cambridge college. She has worked closely with University of Bristol academics on family law, child protection and other socio-legal matters. The University made her an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2002.
Lady Hale said: "I'm excited to have a regular role at a university once again, albeit very different from the one I had as an academic at Manchester all those years ago. And I'm delighted it's at Bristol, a university with a high reputation."
The University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, said: "The Chancellor plays a crucial role in the life of the University. Bristol is very fortunate that a person as distinguished as Lady Hale is taking over the role and I know that she will be an inspiration to students and staff alike."
The Chancellor of the University is elected by Court on the nomination of Council. He or she is the ceremonial head of the University, confers degrees at graduation events, chairs Court, supports fundraising efforts, serves as the most senior public face of the University and is a source of wise counsel to the institution. The Vice-Chancellor (currently Professor Eric Thomas) is the University's chief executive and academic leader.
The former Chancellors are Henry Overton Wills (1909 to 1911); The Viscount Haldane of Cloan (1912 to 1928); The Right Honourable Sir Winston Churchill (1929 to 1965); His Grace the Duke of Beaufort (1965 to 1970); Professor Dorothy Hodgkin (1970 to 1988); and Sir Jeremy Morse (1989 to 2003).