Outgoing Chancellor Professor Sir David King feels “greatly honoured” by his University of Liverpool role, as he leaves to address the “biggest diplomatic challenge of this century”.
Sir David took up his position in 2009, to continue a long association with the University stretching back to his teaching and academic days in the 1970s.
In an interview prior to opening the new Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, his last act as Chancellor, he said: “I have been greatly honoured by serving as Chancellor and to be able to look back on that period, coming full circle from my initial career here, is truly wonderful. I’m sad to be leaving, but I am going into a post that is 24/7.”
Sir David, who became the University’s Brunner Professor of Physical Chemistry in 1974, is rejoining government to become Foreign Secretary William Hague’s new special representative for climate change. He will take charge of an extensive network of climate diplomats, and lead the UK’s overseas work on promoting low carbon growth.
Sir David said: “I see an institution that’s managing to stay at a very strong level of research, while at the same time becoming more external facing. We have a very strong history of being outward looking and we are picking up on that with development of XJTLU in China and through distance learning measures. It’s so important the University understands the need to be both trans-disciplinary and global in approach, so this is a very welcome development.”
Sir David was Chief Scientific Advisor under the previous Labour Government, from 2000 to 2007, and is credited with raising awareness of the threat posed by climate change during his tenure. It is an issue he has always been passionate about, praising the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and criticising sceptics.
He added: “I have an enormous task ahead of me, which is managing the biggest diplomatic challenge of this century, and quite possibly any century. When I say managing, I mean from a British point of view, but because Britain is playing such a lead role that’s put me in a very important position.
“I don’t at all underestimate the nature of that challenge and it’s something I will now spend the whole of my life trying to achieve.”
Nominations have been invited to succeed Sir David as Chancellor, with an announcement expected in the New Year.