Community Officer Ellen McLaughlin at University of Manchester Students Union requested I run for Chancellor. A door opens. The voting begins on 26th May and the ballot takes place for two weeks. It feels right. On May 5th and 12th “Lemn Sissay’s Homecoming” broadcast to the nation on BBC Radio 4. Manchester features heavily in episode 2. I proclaim “Manchester is the greatest place on earth”. Here is Episode one and here is Episode two.
Inside University of Manchester my poem “Let There be Peace” stands high on the walls at University Place on Oxford Road. Thousands of citizens in Manchester read my landmark poems every day. In February I gave the keynote speech to one thousand educationalists (most were lecturers) at The Manchester College Conference in Manchester Town Hall. In October I’ll receive an honorary doctorate from Manchester University for services to the arts.
I’m most proud of The Christmas Dinner for care leavers. I brought a team together and we gathered support of people and organisations like Key 103 , Booths Food Hall and Manchester University Chancellor Tom Bloxham. We put on a great Christmas dinner with some amazing presents for Care Leavers. It’s been a success for two years running.
None of these events were designed to connect with the candidacy but they do. They connect to the time and the place. But it’s also worth knowing I am invited around the world and will carry the vision of the university throughout the world. In March at The Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai I met with executive director of global health of University of Manchester Mukesh Kapila CBE. Whether it’s the World Economic Forum (2011), The Olympics (2013) , or The Organisation of Africa Unity 50th Anniversary in Ethiopia (2014) or The FA Cup Final (2015) I will carry the vision of University of Manchester with me with great pride. My “story” can be seen at my ted talk in The Houses of Parliament.
With Whitworth Art Gallery expansion and Home Manchester will become the heart of the arts in Britain. See Richard Leese in todays guardiian. In the past few days my friend and colleague John McGrath was appointed Head of Manchester International Festival By 2020 the university will become one of the top 25 research universities in the world. I support the university of Manchester’s dedication to diversity and accessibility and its honest belief in education for all.
I have had some practise: In 2013 I stood-in for Chancellor Sir Patrick Stewart at University of Huddersfield as Chair of graduation ceremonies for a day. My smile and comments to each graduate were genuine and heartfelt. University of Huddersfield also run the Lemn Sissay PHD Scholarship. This has encouraged Leeds Trinity to do the same. Who would you like to shake your hand as you walk onto stage at your graduation ceremony? I would like to shake yours. My job here above all is to inspire and be inspired.
The Picture below is The Manchester College conference brochure February 2015.