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Our 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 our short video of the ceremony highlights:

During the ceremony our new Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and new honorary graduates reflected on the importance of learning, nurturing inclusive cultures, and their inspiring journeys to this point.

It's not just what we do but how we do it that will make the difference. - Dr Melville OBE



To commemorate this milestone occasion, we worked with Professor Helen Smith and Dr J T Welsh in our Department of English and Related Studies to commission two poems celebrating Heather's career and achievements.

Chloe Turner and Emily Thorington are two poets inspired by two journeys which now align: Heather's personal journey that led her to the role of our Chancellor and our institutional journey as a University for the public good.

Chloe's poem Your Odyssey is a mythical representation of Heather's career leading her to our University. Emily's poem For the Public Good is focused on Heather's destination here at York and what we can accomplish together on the basis of our shared values.

Watch the performances below or read the poems.

Honorary graduates

As is the York tradition, Heather took the opportunity to confer degrees on two exemplars who engender curiosity, champion diversity and nurture talent through the work they do. They are individuals who Heather has long admired and supported through her career, and they are inspirational role models for all.

Dame Alison Rose

"Diversity is a business imperative. It is absolutely vital we have diversity of thought."

Dame Alison Rose is Chief Executive of NatWest Group plc, having joined as a graduate 30 years ago. Alison sits on the Board of Directors for the Institute of International Finance, and is a member of the International Business Council for the World Economic Forum. She is Vice-Chair of Business in the Community (BITC) and is Non-Executive Director of Great Portland Estates plc, as well as being on the board of the Coutts Charitable Foundation.

Alison received a damehood in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to the financial sector.

Colin Salmon

"Diversity for me was just a way of life; I don't understand any other way. I think there's more of us out there than we realise. People care deeply."

Colin Salmon has become one of Britain's most renowned actors, having appeared in numerous films and TV productions across a 30-year career. He is perhaps best known for his role as Charles Robinson, M's Chief of Staff, in the Pierce Brosnan era James Bond films. Colin is also a highly regarded and accomplished musician. He is patron of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust and the Richard House Children's Hospice, and an ambassador for The Prince's Trust.

Watch the full ceremony

The ceremony celebrated diversity and inclusivity, and featured entertainment in the form of magnificent musical performances by The 24 and the University Jazz Orchestra.

The Chancellor acts as a champion and advocate for the University of York as a community of shared purpose, regionally, nationally and globally.