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The University of Southampton

Jon Sopel appointed as Pro-Chancellor

Published: 1 September 2016
Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel

The University of Southampton has announced the appointment of journalist and broadcaster Jon Sopel as Pro-Chancellor.

Sopel, a graduate of the University in 1981 with a BSc in Politics and Sociology, has enjoyed a distinguished career with the BBC and currently serves as North America Editor based in Washington, DC.

As Pro-Chancellor, he will deputise for Southampton’s Chancellor, Dame Helen Alexander, presiding over graduation ceremonies and playing an active role in the future development of the University. Sopel will also play a key ambassadorial role for Southampton through activities linked to the University’s strategy. His role as Pro-Chancellor will take immediate effect.

“I’m very pleased to have been invited by the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Southampton, Sir Christopher Snowden, to become Pro-Chancellor,” said Sopel. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student at Southampton and continue to engage regularly with the University so I’m very excited by the prospect of representing this world-leading institution more formally as I carry out my duties in the years to come.”

Dr Gill Rider, Chair of the University’s Council, said: “We’re delighted that Jon Sopel has accepted our invitation to become Pro-Chancellor and we look forward to his engagement with the University’s leadership team and wider community as we extend our reputation both nationally and internationally.”

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor and President, said: “Having a recognised Pro-Chancellor of Jon Sopel’s calibre makes a bold statement about the strength of Southampton’s alumni community and sends a clear signal of the University’s intentions to build on those strengths as we progress our plans for the future. We look forward to working closely with Jon as his role develops in the years to come.”

Following his graduation from Southampton in 1981, Sopel remained at the University as Students’ Union President. In 1983, he joined BBC Radio Solent in Southampton as a reporter and producer. He later went on to become the chief political correspondent for BBC News 24 and 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 and more recently has been engaged as a member of the Advisory Committee to Public Policy@Southampton, an Institute within the University of Southampton that supports researchers during the science-to-policy process.

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