by Megan Thomas
On the 8th of January Swansea University announced that biochemist Dame Jean Thomas would be the new Chancellor. Previously the position was held by ex-First Minister Rhodri Morgan, until his death in 2017.
Born and bred in Swansea, Thomas completed her Bsc in Chemistry at Swansea University (then named University of Wales University College Swansea) in 1964. She later went on to complete her Phd in 1967, choosing to stay in Cambridge.
Since then her numerous achievements have included being the first female Master of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge; being elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, becoming a member of the Academia Europaea, being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, serving as a trustee of the British museum, becoming a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, becoming President of the Royal Society of Biology at the University of Manchester and of course, achieving a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) and later a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to biochemistry.She has become an honorary fellow of University of Wales Swansea, Cardiff University and of Aberystwyth University. She retains honorary doctorates from the University of Wales and the University of East Anglia. Much of her research has focused on Chromatin structure and gene activity.
In a statement to Swansea University Vice Chancellor Richard B. Davies has said:
“We are extremely honoured to welcome Professor Dame Jean Thomas as our new Chancellor. Professor Thomas’ academic reputation precedes her; her career has been exemplary, and inspiring. Swansea University continues to grow and develop, in terms of its high-quality facilities and in terms of its reputation as an internationally-renowned research-led university.
As we approach our centenary, in 2020m and commence the next stage of the University’s development, Professor Thomas is ideally placed to reflect our values of academic excellence, innovation, and great ambition”.
Her predecessor Sir Rhodri Morgan was First Minister from 2000 to 2009 (succeeded by Carwyn Jones). Morgan is seen by many to have used his time to cement the unique role of the Welsh Assembly and distance the Welsh Labour party from National Labour, most famously in his “Clear Red Water Speech”, given in Swansea. He became Chancellor of Swansea University in 2011.
In a statement to Swansea University Dame Jean Thomas
“When I first graduated from Swansea University many years ago, I could not have imagined that one day I would have the honour of serving as its Chancellor. The University continues to achieve and expand, am I am very much looking forward to being part of this exciting ambition as we move towards the Centenary in 2020”.
Everyone at Waterfront wishes the new Chancellor well, we’re all extremely excited to see what she has planned for our University!