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Geoff Thompson MBE is new Chair of Governors at UEL

Former world champion athlete is a respected sports administrator and youth activist

​Geoff Thompson MBE FRSA DL has been appointed the new Chair of Governors at the University of East London (UEL).

Mr Thompson, a former world champion athlete and one of the country's most respected sports administrators and youth activists, succeeds Mark Stephens CBE, who is stepping down after eight years at the helm.

Raised in Hackney, Mr Thompson has unique connections to east London and is a lifelong advocate of the role that education, sport and culture play in improving the lives of young people.

During a distinguished sporting career, he was the world heavyweight karate champion and world team karate champion between 1982 and 1986 and won more than 50 national and international titles.

Following his retirement from competitive sport, he established himself as an influential sports politician and administrator, taking on numerous public and private sector appointments with the aim of promoting equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels of society.​​

He is the Founder and Executive Chair of the Youth Charter, a UK-based international charity and United Nations Non-Governmental Organisation that uses the ethics of sport and artistic excellence to tackle the problems of educational non-attainment, health inequality, anti-social behaviour and crime in some of the UK's most troubled communities.

His public and private sector appointments include chairing Sport England's Advisory Group on Racial Equality in Sport and serving as a member of its grant assessment panel.

Among other appointments, he has been a director of the Sports Council Trust Company, a board member of the New Opportunities fund, an honorary fellow of the former Institute of Leisure, Amenities and Mangement, fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and independent assessor for the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

In 1995, Mr Thompson was appointed an MBE for his services to sport and last year he was included in the Top 100 BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Leaders in Business list, in association with the Sunday Times.

Mr Thompson said, "It is an immense honour and responsibility to be appointed Chair of Governors at UEL and I look forward to building on the excellent progress the University has made under Mark Stephens' leadership.

"My life has been dedicated to unlocking young people's potential and challenging injustice - values that are central to UEL's mission.

"UEL is such a unique and special place. The majority of students come from within a 10-mile radius of the University and the staff and students reflect the incredible diversity and vibrancy of east London.

"The massive regeneration taking place in the local community presents a huge opportunity and I will be doing my utmost to ensure that our students have the skills and aspirations to take full advantage."

Mr Mark Stephens said, "It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve UEL as Chair of Governors and I would like to thank staff and students for making it such an inspiring place to learn and work.

"Despite the funding challenges faced by universities in recent years, UEL has made excellent progress.

"We have made extensive improvements to our facilities, adding world-class buildings such as SportsDock, University Square Stratford and our Stratford campus library.

"We have also made great strides academically. UEL is now in the top half of all UK higher education institutions for student satisfaction after jumping a remarkable 42 places in the recent National Student Survey league table.

"With his wealth of experience as an advocate for young people, I am sure Geoff will continue that progress and be an inspiration to our students and staff."