At a service held in the University’s Edinburgh Campus last Friday, Sir Geoff, was installed into his role in front of a congregation of around 180 invited guests. As part of his responsibilities as the new Chancellor, Sir Geoff will preside over graduation ceremonies as well as oversee academic awards and honorary degrees, and represent the University at events.
Sir Geoff said: “To be named as Heriot-Watt’s new Chancellor with my family by my side, is one of my proudest memories.
“I have, for around five decades now, had an extremely close affiliation with Heriot-Watt. It is a distinctive multi-national and diverse university with campus bases in Dubai, Malaysia and Scotland, with just a third of students based from Scotland, a third from the Dubai and Malaysia and a final third learning online studying the world over.
“Throughout my tenure as Chancellor, I will continue to promote the heritage and values of this great institution and do everything in my power to ensure we continue to deliver the very best learning and teaching environment for our students.”
In 1989, Sir Geoff became Scotland’s first black professor and has had a long association with the University. This began when he completed his PhD in grain science and technology jointly with Heriot-Watt College and the University of Edinburgh in the 1960s.
Sir Geoff was knighted in the 2014 New Year’s Honours for services to human rights, science and charity. In 2018, he was appointed Jamaica's first Honorary Consul in Scotland and is the 2020 recipient of the Jamaican national honour, the Order of Distinction .
Principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, Professor Richard A. Williams, said: “Anyone who knows Sir Geoff understands how much he cares for this University, its values and its people. As Chancellor, he has a critical role in elevating Heriot-Watt’s reputation across the globe and I can think of no-one better to lead us in this endeavour.”
Sir Geoff takes over from Dr Robert M. Buchan, a mining entrepreneur and philanthropist, who stood down after almost eight years in the role.