The leading entrepreneur Lord Gulam Noon was appointed as the new Chancellor of the University of East London (UEL) in a ceremony at the House of Lords last night.
Lord Noon developed his business from a sweet shop in Mumbai to a multimillion pound food empire employing thousands of people in the UK. He replaces Lord Brian Rix, the actor and charity campaigner, as the figurehead of London’s leading modern research university. Lord Rix was UEL’s first Chancellor and is stepping down as the longest-serving university Chancellor in England.
Lord Noon said: “I am both proud and excited to be taking on this role at UEL. This is a great institution, with a strong record of providing opportunities for all to improve and develop. I am looking forward to helping them continue their good work, encouraging diversity and developing entrepreneurship alongside academic excellence.”
Lord Noon – who is credited with introducing the British palate to Indian food on a large scale through his business supplying supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose – has a long-standing relationship with UEL. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the university in 2009, in recognition of his achievements as an entrepreneur, and has helped the university create and run a centre for diversity in business.
Mark Stephens CBE, chair of UEL’s Board of Governors, said “We’re delighted Lord Noon has agreed to be our new Chancellor. He brings exceptional ability and achievement, and his successful career will be an inspiration to our students. Lord Noon is also renowned for his love of cricket and he recognises our ambition to be the leading university for sport in London”.
Many UEL students – including Olympic silver-medallist Gemma Gibbons and Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad – were involved in last year’s London games, and UEL hosted Olympic teams from the USA and Singapore.
His appointment was welcomed by two other honorary graduates of UEL. The former Attorney-General Baroness Patricia Scotland said: “UEL couldn’t have picked a better person to be their new chancellor. Lord Noon is a brilliant entrepreneur who shares UEL’s values and cares deeply about education. He will be a great success, an exemplar for young people to follow.”
Political philosopher and academic Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh said: “Lord Noon is a remarkable man who has risen from humble origins to become one of the most respected and admired individuals in Britain and India. His courage, determination, and integrity and moral transparency are clearly evident and he will, I have no doubt, contribute immensely to the university.”
The Chancellor is the formal head of UEL, and acts as an ambassador for the university, its staff and students. As well as playing a key role in graduation ceremonies, Lord Noon will help to raise the profile of UEL and ensure that the talent and ability of our students and graduates are recognised.
Lord Noon is also a fellow of Birkbeck, University of London, with whom UEL are currently developing a new and exciting shared campus in Stratford, opening in September 2013.
The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with over 28,000 students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.