Coming down steps landscape

Lord Sainsbury of Turville was installed as the 143rd Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in a special ceremony in the Senate House this morning.

The Chancellor advises, represents, recognises service, and lends authority, as the principal officer of the University of Cambridge.

The Chancellor is elected to office by the Senate – the large body, now over 150,000-strong, of those holding a Cambridge Masters degree or doctorate, and all members of the Regent House.

In addition to presiding at Congregations and admitting candidates to degrees, the Chancellor has the explicit power to ‘see that all officers of the University duly perform their duties’.

The Chancellor’s most visible formal duty nowadays is the annual conferment of Honorary Degrees – and this year the Chancellor also has the duty of leading a deputation from the University to Buckingham Palace, to present a Loyal Address to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Chancellor advises, represents, recognises service, and lends authority, as the principal officer of the University of Cambridge.

David Sainsbury came up to King’s College, Cambridge in 1959 to read History, but  changed after his first year to the Natural Sciences Tripos, to read Psychology.

On graduation, in 1963, he joined J Sainsbury. The company at that time was a regional, family business. His intention was to work in the company for a few months, but he stayed, having developed a fascination for the business.

In 1971 he studied for an MBA at the Columbia Graduate School of Business in New York, and became Finance Director of J Sainsbury in 1973, serving as Chairman from 1992 to 1998.

He became a member of the House of Lords in 1997 as Lord Sainsbury of Turville (his cousin, who preceded him as Chairman of Sainsbury’s, is Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover).

In 1998 he was appointed Minister of State for Science and Innovation, which brought responsibility for the Government Office of Science and Technology, and for policy in Innovation, Space, the Bioscience and Chemical Industries, and the Patent Office. He served in that position for eight years, until 2006; the principles he put in place have continued to underpin UK science and technology policy.

In 2007, no longer a minister, he produced for the Government an influential review of science and innovation policies, The Race to the Top.

In 1967 Lord Sainsbury founded the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which has won praise for its innovative approach. It is very focused, supporting activities such as food security, neuroscience, the arts, and economic and social development in Africa, where private philanthropy can make a particular impact. The Foundation supports work at several UK universities and institutions including Cambridge, where it notably funds the Sainsbury Laboratory for plant development, undergraduate and graduate studentships, and the Institute for Manufacturing.

Lord Sainsbury is an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, and received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law from Cambridge in 1997. He also holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Oxford and Manchester, and from Imperial College London. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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