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The Chancellor is the ceremonial and honorary figurehead of the University. She plays an important ambassadorial role for York as a university for public good.

Our Chancellor is Dr Heather Melville.

Role of the Chancellor

The Chancellor is a champion and advocate for the University.

Key responsibilities:

  • To preside and confer degrees at the University’s graduation ceremonies
  • To promote the University, its achievements and interests, regionally, nationally and globally
  • To convene, participate in, or facilitate public engagements in relation to the work of the University, including alumni relations, fundraising and development activities
  • To collaborate with other senior officers and colleagues in furthering the vision and strategy of the University.

The Chancellor is appointed by Council. They hold the post for a period of five years, renewable for one further term, up to a maximum of ten years. 

The Chancellor does not hold any other office within the University. The post is unpaid and not subject to any other benefits, other than reasonable subsistence or expenses associated with the role.

About Dr Heather Melville OBE

For over 40 years, Dr Heather Melville OBE, has harnessed change to advance inclusive cultures for the public good in the challenging, and often traditional and resistant, settings of corporate and international banking, technology and professional services.

Heather is a champion for the advancement of women in these sectors; she has been a judge at the National Diversity Awards which honours positive role models, entrepreneurs and community organisations across several different strands within the equality and diversity sector.

Watch on YouTube

She is an Advisor to the global CEO advisory firm, Teneo, where she supports businesses to build more sustainable, diverse and inclusive practices, and leads the UK arm of its Diversity, Equality and Inclusion practice.

She also holds a number of trustee positions: she is on the Board of the Chair of Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and of its Women’s Advisory Committee, Enfield Enterprise; she is a Patron of Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF); and was a member of the PwC Colour Brave Charity Committee.

In 2017, she was awarded an OBE for her services to female entrepreneurs, diversity in business and gender equality.

In July 2019, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Portsmouth for her contribution to Diversity in Business. In the same year, she secured a place on The Financial Times prestigious EMpower Top 100 Minority Leaders list, which showcases 100 carefully chosen BAME professionals from the UK and US.

Prior to her appointment as Chancellor, she was an active supporter of the University of York for many years, having presented at the 2019 York Festival of Ideas, built strong connections with our Staff Racial Equality Forum (SREF), and worked closely with the University to help promote doctoral study for graduates from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, as part of the UKRI-funded Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (YCEDE). She spoke at YCEDE's launch event in York in May 2022, and is currently a key external stakeholder.  

She was appointed as the seventh Chancellor of the University in October 2022, on a decision of the Court, following a rigorous and inclusive nominations process, overseen by a Search Committee, reporting into the University's Constitution and Nominations Committee of Council.

The role of Chancellor is for a period of five years, and therefore her appointment will be until 31 August 2027.

Chancellor Declaration of Interests 2023_24 (PDF , 71kb)

Inauguration Day

On Wednesday 18 January 2023, we celebrated an important milestone as we formally welcomed our seventh Chancellor, Dr Heather Melville OBE, to the University of York community.

Watch the ceremony