Karen Blackett OBE

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Karen Blackett OBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth

Our Chancellor, Karen Blackett OBE, is a former University of Portsmouth student

Karen Blackett is a proven leader with a track record of creating greater opportunities for all.

During her career, Karen has made workplaces in many industries more inclusive.

She’s created apprenticeship schemes to help 18 to 24-year-olds from all backgrounds into the media, and championed projects to support new mums returning to work. As chairwoman of MediaCom, one of the world's largest media agencies, she pioneered programmes to help women reach more senior roles. In 2020, Karen became CEO of GroupM UK – the world's leading media investment company. 

For her work in the media industry, Karen received an OBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours, and in 2018 she was appointed as a Race Equality Business Champion by the Prime Minister Theresa May.

As one of our most successful and respected alumni, we’re delighted to welcome Karen back to Portsmouth as the ceremonial figurehead of the University.

The Chancellor's role

The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of the University. This is an honorary and unpaid role. The purpose of the role of the Chancellor is to help to raise the profile and prestige of the University by representing us – and our mission, aims and objectives – in the world beyond academia.

The Chancellor's Dinner

Our annual Chancellor's Dinner is a prestigious black-tie event where our alumni and students hear from the Chancellor and leading figures in industry. 

The event in 2020 was held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Karen welcomed British television broadcaster June Sarpong OBE, actor Colin Salmon and business woman Baroness Margaret McDonagh. 

Highlights from the Chancellor's Dinner 2019

At the ceremony in 2019, Chancellor Karen Blackett OBE invited three special guests to Portsmouth – comedian and co-founder of Comic Relief, Sir Lenny Henry CBE, founder of the MOBO Awards, Kanya King CBE, and technology entrepreneur, Tom Ilube CBE.

In a series of inspiring conversations with Karen on-stage at the Portsmouth Guildhall, Sir Lenny, Kanya and Tom discussed their journeys to the peak of their professions – and the lessons our students and alumni can take with them into the future.

Highlights from the 2019 Chancellor’s Dinner