The University of Oxford announced today that its Chancellor, Christopher Patten, Lord Patten of Barnes, will be retiring at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
The Chancellor is the titular head of the university, presiding over several key ceremonies, alongside chairing the Committee to Elect the Vice-Chancellor. The Chancellor also undertakes advocacy, advisory and fundraising work, and acts as an ambassador of the University at a range of global and national events.
Before becoming Chancellor, Lord Patten was formerly the last British Governor of Hong Kong, and the Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1992. He had studied History at Balliol College in the early 1960s. The OxStu had exclusively interviewed him last February.
Lord Patten said, ‘This year, I will have my 80th birthday in May. I hope that there will be many more birthdays to come. But I am unlikely to have another 21 years in the job as Chancellor of the University.’
‘I think it is in my own interest and that of the University for me to step down at the end of this academic year, giving the University the opportunity to plan a sensible succession which matches the demands of the 2020s. I say this with a heavy heart, trusting that I will still be able to work for Oxford University (which I love) from time to time.’
‘The University of Oxford has been a hugely important part of my life. I think it is true to say that Oxford as a whole made me, not just because of the three happy years I spent there as a student, but because of what Oxford has continued to mean to me over the years right up to the present day.’
The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Irene Tracy, said, ‘Over the past 21 years, Lord Patten has been an extraordinarily active and committed Chancellor, engaging in as many as 60 international events per year on the University’s behalf, tirelessly championing Oxford at home and abroad. While his incomparable dedication will be sorely missed by the University, it is entirely understandable that he should want to take a step back at this time, as he approaches his 80th birthday.’
‘I am personally grateful for his wise and steadfast support to me as I navigated the transition to becoming Vice-Chancellor.’
‘On behalf of thousands of alumni, students and staff and the many people whose lives have been changed by the University’s work, I thank Chris, and also his wife Lavender, for their service and wish them well in a richly deserved retirement.’
The University will announce the process and timetable for the election of the Chancellor by members of the University’s Convocation in due course.