The Chancellor is the University’s ceremonial head and one of its most prominent ambassadors. Our current Chancellor is Lemn Sissay OBE.

The Chancellor is involved in activities which promote the University to the wider community and plays a key part in some of the University’s important business. These duties include presiding over meetings of the General Assembly and over congregations of the University for the conferment of degrees, but do not involve day-to-day executive management or the running of the University.

At Manchester, the post is held for seven years. The Chancellor is elected by members of the General Assembly and the Alumni Association, together with all University staff eligible to hold superannuable appointments.

The role is an honorary position and cannot, therefore, be held by anyone in paid employment of the University.

Lemn Sissay, Chancellor

Lemn Sissay

Since taking up the Chancellorship in 2015, Lemn Sissay OBE has contributed to the University significantly on a local, national and international scale. His poem ‘Making a Difference’, written for the University’s Making a Difference Awards, celebrated our commitment to social responsibility, which is one of our three core goals.

In 2017 he launched the Lemn Sissay Law Bursaries, which aims to address underrepresentation of black males in the legal profession. Further afield, Lemn has helped the University expand our Equity and Merit Scholarships for funded master’s degrees to include prospective Ethiopian students. 

Lemn is trustee of The Manchester International Festival, patron of the Letterbox Club. He is a fellow and trustee of the Foundling Museum and was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London.

He has authored books of poetry alongside articles, records, radio documentaries, public art and plays. The BBC documentaries Internal Flight and Child of the State were both broadcast about his life, and his TED talk about childhood has three-quarters of a million views. Lemn was the first Black Writers Development Worker in the north of England.

In 2019, he released his memoir My Name Is Why, which focuses on the hurt and institutional neglect of his time in care. In 2022 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature and charity. 

The Sissay PhD Scholarship for Care Leavers, the first of its kind, has been running for six years. The Lemn Sissay Foundation, established in Manchester, organises Christmas dinners for care leavers in locations across the UK, including here in Manchester, Stockport and Wigan.

Tel: +44 (0) 161 306 6010

His Chancellorship ends on 1 August, but he’ll be remaining within our community and taking up an Honorary Chair in Creative Writing. Nazir Afzal OBE is announced as the new University Chancellor to succeed Lemn in August. 

Lemn Sissay's thoughts

Watch a video below of Lemn Sissay's thoughts on being appointed as the University's Chancellor.