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Cardinal Vincent Nichols has been appointed the first chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, the largest Catholic higher-education college in England and Wales.
The appointment marks a continued rise in the fortunes of St Mary’s, in south-west London, which was upgraded from a college to a university in January. St Mary’s former principal, Professor Philip Esler, resigned in January 2013 following acrimonious divisions over his plans to merge the school of theology, philosophy and history with the school of communication, culture and creative art. Professor Esler was succeeded by Francis Campbell, the former British ambassador to the Holy See, who is now the university’s vice chancellor.
St Mary's Chairman of Governors, Bishop Richard Moth, said, “We are honoured that Cardinal Nichols has agreed to become the first ever Chancellor of our university … The governing body looks forward to working closely with Cardinal Nichols in the months and years ahead to prepare our students for successful, fulfilling lives based on the highest teaching standards in a supportive community of mutual respect underpinned by our Catholic ethos and identity.”
Cardinal Nichols, who is archbishop of Westminster, noted that among the “many generations of Catholic teachers [who] have received the foundations of their service” at the 164-year-old institution was his father, Henry Nichols.
The cardinal will be installed as chancellor of the 6,000-student university at a ceremony later this year and his appointment will take effect from 1 September.
Pope Benedict XVI travelled to St Mary’s to meet Catholic school pupils and leaders of different faith communities during his 2010 visit to Britain. Among St Mary’s alumni is the Somali-born Olympic and World champion runner Mo Farah.
St Mary’s, Twickenham, awarded university status 31 January 2014