Students Staff

19 July 2013

Chancellor steps down after 20,000 handshakes

Lord Phillips of Sudbury reflects on his time as Chancellor at the University of Essex from University of Essex on Vimeo.

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Long-serving Chancellor of the University of Essex, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, presided over his eleventh and final Graduation today after congratulating more than 20,000 students over the past ten years.

Lord Phillips, who became Chancellor of the University in April 2003, steps down at the end of the month.

This year he has celebrated the achievements of nearly 3,000 students over the past four days. Describing the celebrations as wonderful, he told the graduates it had been a privilege and his good fortune to serve as Chancellor.

And he urged them to prepare for the challenges they would face in their lives, by knowing their values and living their lives by them. “Unless you know what you stand for and what you live for, you are not going to be able to withstand the temptations which you will surely meet... Unless you shape your lives for yourselves, someone will do it for you."

He added: “You already, no doubt, experience the 24/7 cascade of information, which drowns out time and space for reflection and refreshment. So control that or be controlled. And if you thus regain or retain your liberty – plan to give back. You’ll never regret it.”

Praising Lord Phillips’ incredible energy and commitment, Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Anthony Forster, told graduates and their guests: “Lord Phillips has played a key role in encouraging all at the University to strive for excellence and encouraging them to strive to reach their potential.”

Thanking him for his immense contribution, Professor Forster concluded: “In his period as our Chancellor, Lord Phillips has been a great champion for the University and served it with distinction.”

Lord Phillips has enjoyed a distinguished legal career spanning 54 years, specialising in charity law, and is also a well-known broadcaster. He was made a life peer in 1998 in recognition of his charitable work which has included founding three national charities, including The Citizenship Foundation, of which he remains President. In Parliament, where he remains active, he has championed citizen/state relations and led opposition to the Identity Cards Bill.

Lord Phillips founded law firm Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, London, in 1970 and served as a senior partner until 1998, although he continues as a consultant. From 1976 until 2002, he appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Jimmy Young Show as the “Legal Eagle”, giving advice to the show’s listeners. He also presented current affairs programmes for London Weekend Television and Anglia.

Lord Phillips is the University’s fourth Chancellor. Arrangements will now be put in place to appoint his successor. The Chancellor is the chief officer of the University, with a ceremonial role conferring degrees at University ceremonies, and presiding over the annual meeting of Court.


Notes to editors
1. A photo of Lord Phillips is available from the University’s Flickr account at: For more information, please contact the Communications Office, e-mail: or telephone: 01206 872400.

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