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The University of Southampton

Chancellor Dame Helen Alexander

Published: 7 August 2017
Dame Helen Alexander
Dame Helen Alexander was appointed Chancellor of the University of Southampton in 2011

University of Southampton President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, has paid tribute to Dame Helen Alexander following the announcement of her death. Dame Helen, who was 60, had been Chancellor of the University since 2011.

Sir Christopher Snowden said, “It is with deep regret and sadness that I have let members of our University community know that our Chancellor, Dame Helen Alexander, passed away peacefully on Saturday night. She had been battling cancer for some time and succumbed to a final aggressive stage.

“Dame Helen was very popular across the University, especially at graduations, where her friendly and caring character was most evident,” he continued. “She was always keen to help the University and its members and would regularly ask me about news of our successes. We will all miss her enthusiasm and personal warmth, and our thoughts are with her family at this very sad time.”

Dr Gill Rider, Chair of the University of Southampton Council said, "Helen was a wonderful role model to a generation of men and women who followed her career and was always approachable, happily offering her support and mentoring.  It was a delight and privilege to know her." 

As Chancellor of Southampton, Dame Helen played a leading ambassadorial role on behalf of the University, presiding over degree ceremonies at graduation. Her strengths and leadership across a range of business sectors led to her appointment as Chancellor in 2011.

Well-known for her leadership and successful career in business, Dame Helen continued to fulfil her role as Chair of UBM plc until her death. She also held a number of non-executive directorships, including Huawei Technologies (UK), Rolls Royce, esure Group Holdings, Incisive Media, Thomson-Reuters, and more recently Bain Capital and UBM.

Dame Helen also sat on the board of Said Business School at the University of Oxford, was a Trustee of Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation and formerly served as Chair of the Port of London Authority between 2010 and 2015.

Her career began with the publishing company Faber and Faber and she went on to spend 11 years as Chief Executive of the Economist Group until 2008. In 2004, she received a CBE for services to publishing. In 2011 she became the first female President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and was awarded a DBE for services to business the same year.

Dame Helen received an MA from Oxford, an MBA from INSEAD and in 2015 was awarded the French Legion d'honneur.

Dame Helen’s family have expressed their wish for friends and colleagues to donate to the Centre for Cancer Immunology in Dame Helen’s memory via JustGiving.


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