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The University of Southampton
About us

Our Pro-Chancellors

The Pro-Chancellors deputise for Southampton’s Chancellor, presiding over graduation ceremonies and playing an active role in the future development of the University. They also play a key ambassadorial role for Southampton through activities linked to the University’s strategy.

Read more about how the University is governed and run

Jon Sopel
Our Pro Chancellor

Jon Sopel

Jon Sopel is a journalist, broadcaster and author who has enjoyed a distinguished career with the BBC.

A graduate of the University of Southampton in 1981 with a BSc in Politics and Sociology, he currently serves as North America Editor based in Washington, DC.

Following his graduation, Sopel remained at the University as Students’ Union President. In 1983, he joined BBC Radio Solent in Southampton as a reporter and producer and went on to become the chief political correspondent for BBC News 24. He also spent three years as the BBC’s Paris correspondent during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

In 2005, Sopel fronted The Politics Show on BBC One interviewing key politicians including Prime Minister’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and former US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice. He has also co-presented on the BBC News Channel and fronted a number of radio and television programmes including Newsnight, HARDtalk and The Daily Politics. He wrote an acclaimed biography of Tony Blair and is currently working on a book about his time in America.

Prior to his current role, Sopel was the main presenter on the BBC News Channel programme Global.

In 2007, Sopel was voted Political Journalist of the Year by the Public Affairs Industry. In 2013, he was shortlisted for National Presenter of the Year at the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University in 2011.


Colin Smith

Colin Smith, CBE

Colin Smith is former Director and Group President of Rolls-Royce. He is Chairman of UK Industry Aerospace Growth Partnership and a member of the UK Council for Science and Technology. Colin is also a keen supporter of the University of Southampton’s campaign to establish the UK’s first dedicated Centre for Cancer Immunology.

Colin joined Rolls-Royce in 1974 as an undergraduate apprentice before achieving his degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southampton.

In 2005, Colin became Director – Engineering & Technology when he was also appointed a member of the Board of Rolls-Royce. Prior to this role, he held a number of senior engineering positions including Director of Research & Technology, building on his previous experience as Director of Engineering & Technology for Civil Aerospace. Colin retired as Group President of Rolls-Royce in 2017.

In June 2012, Colin was awarded a CBE for services to UK engineering.  He is a Fellow of The Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Aeronautical Society, and The Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  He was the recipient of a Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal in 2002, which recognises outstanding personal contribution to UK engineering.

Colin has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Derby, Loughborough, Nottingham, Oxford, Southampton and Strathclyde.  


Dame Veronica Sutherland

Dame Veronica Sutherland

Dame Veronica Sutherland studied German at the Universities of London and later Southampton where she gained an MA in 1965.  She then joined the Diplomatic Service, and served overseas in Copenhagen, New Delhi and Paris where she was the British Delegate to UNESCO. 

In 1987 she was appointed Ambassador to the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, becoming the first married woman ambassador in the British Diplomatic Service.  She retired in 1999 after four years as Ambassador in Dublin.

On leaving the Diplomatic Service, Dame Veronica she was appointed Deputy Secretary General (Economic and Social) in the Commonwealth Secretariat.  From 2001 – 2008 she was President of Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. 

She is involved in various charities.

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