Honorary Fellowship for Dr Stella Clarke
Press release issued: 16 July 2008
Dr Stella Clarke, CBE, has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Bristol University, the highest honour the University can bestow. Dr Clarke received the distinction at Wednesday’s [16 July] degree ceremony in recognition of her sustained and outstanding contribution to the life of the University over many years.
Dr Clarke has been both Vice Lord-Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenant of the City and Council of Bristol, a Justice of the Peace and former Chairman of the Bristol Bench, Chairman of Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Bristol.
Dr Clarke first became involved in the life of the University in 1982 by becoming a member of Council, the executive body of the University which presides over the structure of committees administering the institution. She became involved in many aspects of the governance of the University, being appointed to the chairmanship of Council in 1985 – the first woman to hold the post – and remaining in the position until 1997.
The 1980s saw a series of convulsions in the university world. There was a steady decline, eventually to a total of 40 per cent, in government funding and important constitutional changes were brought about by Acts of Parliament. Dr Clarke was central to the enormous improvement which took place in relationships between the University and the wider community in Bristol and its surrounding region. In 1996, in recognition of the quality of her chairmanship the University conferred on her the Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Dr Clarke stood down in 1997, but did not leave the University. She became, on the nomination of Council, and for ten years, a Pro-Chancellor, one of the small group of experienced lay people who ‘may’, in the words of Statute 4 of the University’s Charter, ‘exercise the functions of the Chancellor’ but whose day-to-day role is much less formal and much more influential than the constitutional wording describing the post conveys. Dr Clarke’s role in the life of the University continued to be immense, greatly to its advantage.