The commitment and passion of Sheila Hancock, Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth for the past five years, has been honoured by the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor John Craven.
Presiding at her final graduation ceremony this week, Sheila was overcome when Professor Craven surprised her with a public and warm farewell speech which was streamed live on the BBC big screen and across the internet thanks to the CCi TV Team, staff and students in the School of Creative Technologies.
Professor Craven told the audience Sheila had attended every one of the 70 graduation ceremonies since she was installed as Chancellor, an achievement and commitment that was unequalled.
He said: “We are very, very grateful to Sheila for what she has done. Sheila has become truly a part of Portsmouth – not just of the University, but of the city and the community.
“About 25,000 students have crossed the stage and met Sheila here at graduation ceremonies. A whole Olympic stadium full of families have been here to watch and be proud. Sheila has spoken to you all, to everyone at those 70 graduation ceremonies, and I know, because I receive letters about this, that many people have been truly grateful for what Sheila says both as they come across the stage and particularly in her speech at the end of the ceremony, and that has been a hugely important part of the lives of many, many students.
“But as Chancellor Sheila has done a great deal more than that. She has visited every part of the University and a visit from the Chancellor can be a huge boost to the morale of the University and I’m particularly grateful to her for that too.”
Professor Craven went on to discuss her involvement with groups across the city.
“Sheila has also been at many city events over the last five years, many of the city’s museums and institutions, she has visited all the schools and many other places. She has also represented the University nationally, talking to ministers of government telling them in ways they don’t forget that they must care too and that what matters is making sure the people who come from backgrounds where life is hard have an opportunity for education and for enjoying all the other experiences that you, our students, have had at Portsmouth.”
Professor Craven’s tribute and farewell met with much applause and a standing ovation.
Sheila responded by thanking Professor Craven and she said to the students: “Thank you so much, I wasn’t expecting this. This is your day, not mine. It’s been wonderful to work with these amazing people. It’s been an inspirational time for me and a wonderful experience. Thank you all.”