Dr Anthony Freeling

The acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Dr Anthony Freeling, has been outlining his vision for the next nine months in the traditional Annual Address at the Senate House. Dr Freeling has taken over from Professor Stephen Toope and will lead the University until the new Vice-Chancellor takes office.

Together we form an extraordinary community who come together for the greater benefit of the whole

Dr Anthony Freeling

Professor Deborah Prentice, currently Provost of Princeton in the United States, has been nominated for the role. Dr Freeling, formerly President of Hughes Hall, is the first acting vice-chancellor in the University’s history. In his speech he used the analogy of running a relay race and said it was his role to ensure the baton was passed smoothly to his successor. He paid a heartfelt tribute to Professor Toope for steering Cambridge through some its most challenging times ever and making the University even more open to diverse talent, more financially transparent, and more collegial. He noted that the University “is about to begin an exciting new partnership to bring more than 1,000 young African scholars to Cambridge.”   

Dr Freeling also stressed the importance of the University’s mission, describing academic excellence as the touchstone: “Whether addressing climate change, the cost of living or student wellbeing, the central University, the academic departments, and the colleges must work more closely than ever, and we must collaborate more effectively than ever. In short, working collaboratively to enhance Cambridge’s academic excellence will be the guiding principle of my time in office, and my unrelenting focus, before handing over the baton to my successor.”

He acknowledged that the months ahead will be challenging, “not least as we make the necessary adjustments to help our communities cope with the country’s cost of living crisis”, but vowed to “work across collegiate Cambridge to help us pull together and achieve this shared purpose.”

The University, he said, could only achieve its aims by working together: “We are united in our aspirations, and in our collective enterprise. Together, we form an extraordinary community who come together for the greater benefit of the whole.”

Dr Freeling emphasised the University’s commitment to freedom of speech: “We take great pride in being a self-governing community of scholars. We place great stock in protecting academic freedom. And we make great efforts to embed freedom of expression.” “The University’s governance”, he added, “relies ultimately on members of its Regent House engaging, discussing and voting on the issues that matter most to them.”

He ended his Address by urging members of the Regent House – the University’s governing body – to fully participate in the decision-making processes of the University saying it was “a democratic right, and democratic duty”.

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