Brian May is New JMU Chancellor


A far cry from visual art I suppose but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph Brian May and Cherie Blair as the latter handed over the John Moores University Chancellorship to the former yesterday.

I dislike all the pomp and formality that accompanies these events, its all very silly but we stuck around for a while to take a few pictures and I liked the occasional short fanfare from high above the stage.

Here’s the full story…
Brian May – musician, songwriter and astronomer – was today installed as the fourth Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

The installation ceremony took place in Liverpool’s St George’s Hall in front of an audience of some 500 staff, students and alumni of the University as well as the Lord Lieutenant of Liverpool, mayors and other dignitaries.

Two former LJMU Chancellors were also in attendance – Cherie Booth QC, who served as Chancellor between 1999 and 2006, and John Moores CBE, her predecessor, who served from 1994 to 1999.


Professor Michael Brown CBE, LJMU’s Vice-Chancellor, said:
“The ethos of this University is summed up in three simple words: Dream, Plan, Achieve. No one embodies this more perfectly than our new Chancellor, Dr Brian May. While gaining global recognition as a musician, and supporter of the performing arts, he never lost sight of his dream, his passion for astronomy and science. Thirty years after starting his PhD, he achieved his doctorate, proving himself a true polymath and exemplifying the power of lifelong learning.

Chancellor Dr Brian May responded, saying:
“I am very proud to be the new Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, and I am particularly touched that so many staff and students are able to be here today. I am passionate about education and lifelong learning. It really doesn’t matter how old you are or what stage of your life you are in, it is never, ever too late to start learning. I proved that by completing my PhD, 30 years after I started it. As Chancellor, I hope that my personal experiences will act as an inspiration for others.”

Brian May’s involvement with the University began in 2007 when he was awarded an Honorary Fellow in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts, but more significantly for encouraging the public understanding of science following publication of his renowned book Bang! The Complete History of the Universe. Dr May co-authored the book with Chris Lintott and Sir Patrick Moore, who is also a Fellow of LJMU.

Brian studied Astrophysics at Imperial College, London and gained his BSc before progressing to a PhD. He put his academic career on hold to concentrate on his musical ambitions, founding the rock group Queen, which has since enjoyed world-wide success selling 400 million records and touring the world many times. In October 2007, he finally completed his PhD thesis and was awarded his doctorate.

Dr May has already established links with scientists in the University’s internationally acclaimed Astrophysics Research Institute, whose world-class research, work with schoolchildren, and development of robotic telescopes earned them a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2005.

Fittingly, the University-owned Liverpool Telescope – one of the world’s largest robotic telescopes, designed and built by LJMU experts – is located in La Palma, Canaries, the location of Dr May’s original observations when a PhD student at Imperial.