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WATCH: Foundation Day celebrations 2022

13 Oct 2022

This year, Nazir Afzal OBE was installed as our new Chancellor and three honorary degrees were presented during our Foundation Day celebrations

University of Manchester

This year’s Foundation Day centred around the installation of our new Chancellor and Former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England, Nazir Afzal OBE.

After taking up the role earlier this year, Nazir will act as ceremonial head and one of the University’s most prominent ambassadors for the next seven years.

During the event, the University also bestowed honorary degrees on our outgoing Chair of the Board of Governors Edward Astle, alumna and African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, and actor, writer, theatre producer and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh. 

Foundation Day

Responding on behalf of all the three, Edward Astle said they had all been surprised to be asked and, “are immensely proud and very grateful to the University in honouring us in this way.”

You can watch the full proceedings and speeches below:

President and Vice-Chancellor, Dame Professor Nancy Rothwell opened the proceedings by paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died last month, and to her successor, King Charles III.

She also paid tribute to our staff whose work over the last few years had led to “exceptional” REF results, as our University continues to be the most popular with prospective students and most targeted by employers. Whilst offering these thanks, she also reassured the congregation that staff and student wellbeing – particularly during the ongoing cost of living crisis – would continue to be a priority. 

Nazir Afzal installed as Chancellor 

As the event moved toward the installation of our new Chancellor, Nancy cited his “truly outstanding contribution to public service over many years.”

Nazir responded that it was “an immense privilege” to be installed as Chancellor, commenting that: “When I was asked, it took me as long as it took Rutherford to split the atom to agree. It is an extraordinary honour.”

To find out more about Nazir and his hopes for the future you can watch a video with Student content creator, Aidan Rhode. 

This year’s honorary doctorates were awarded to: 

Edward Astle

Edward Astle, former Chair of the Board of Governors from September 2016 to August 2022. Nancy explained as she awarded his honorary doctorate that Edward had been an “exemplary” Chair over his term, helping the University to navigate extraordinary external challenges. She added: “Edward has consistently provided robust challenge, wise counsel and supportive, critical friendship to me in my role as President and Vice-Chancellor and my fellow members of SLT.”

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid 

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, who has a PhD in Socio-Economic Development from The University of Manchester and is now the twice-elected African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation.

For more than 35 years, Amani has served in international organisations, leading and implementing national, regional and cross-continental infrastructure projects in Africa and both launching and integrating transformative initiatives, such as the Single African Air Transport Market, Africa’s Single Electricity Market and the Digital Transformation Strategy. 

Decorated with the Wissam Alaouite of Morocco and selected as ‘Most Influential Woman in Africa’, she previously received an Outstanding Alumni Award from our University. 

Julie Hesmondhalgh 

Julie Hesmondhalgh, whose many acting credits include Coronation Street, Dr Who, Broadchurch and The Greatest Play in the History of the World, trained at LAMDA and set up Arts Threshold Theatre in the early 90s. She co-runs Take Back, a political theatre collective, and the fundraising group 500 Acts of Kindness.  

Her awards include Best Female Performer 2017 MTAs, Best Studio Performance 2012 MTAs, Royal Television Society Best Actress 2014, National TV Award 2014 and Royal Television Society Award 2013. Her Working Diary was published in 2019 and her second book, An A-Z for Actors (Stuff I’ve Learnt, Stuff I’m Still Learning) will be published this year.   

She is also a patron and supporter of many organisations including the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Reuben’s Retreat and Arts Emergency.

You can watch a film created to celebrate Foundation Day 2022: