Chancellor of De Montfort University
The Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE is the Chancellor of De Montfort University and she was officially welcomed at an inauguration ceremony on Friday 22 January 2016.
Doreen Lawrence was awarded the OBE for services to community relations in 2013 and since then she has been made a life peer in the House of Lords. She has won praise for her tireless dedication to community, anti-racism and other causes close to her heart and she was recently named the most powerful woman in the country by the BBC. Her spirit and resilience and demand for a better way have genuinely changed an institution at the core of British life.
Baroness Lawrence is the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a teenager murdered in a racist attack in South East London in 1993. Devastated by grief but determined to create hope, Doreen and Stephen’s father, Neville Lawrence, founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in 1998, with the aim of promoting a positive community legacy in their son’s name.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence wanted to ensure that future generations of young people would enjoy the opportunities that were denied to Stephen by his senseless murder. The trust has had a significant impact on criminal justice and social policy, as well as influencing the lives of the young people it has worked with.
In 1999, after years of campaigning by Baroness Lawrence and her family, a wide-ranging judicial inquiry was established to investigate the circumstances of Stephen’s death. It said the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist and that this was the main reason for their failure to solve Stephen’s case.
Her ongoing efforts led to an investigation into claims of police corruption and, for her, the changes in policing remain ‘only partly done’, having revealed something about the wider society.
Baroness Lawrence has continued to campaign for justice for her son and other victims of racist crime and has been selected to sit on panels within the Home Office and the Police Service. She is also a member of Liberty, also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties, and patron of Stop Hate UK, a hate crime charity.
Despite setbacks in her campaign, Baroness Lawrence is able to lead and inspire as a powerhouse of courage, quietly persuading young people to have the confidence to stand against racism. She embodies much of what we at DMU aspire to, with our commitments to public good and our embracing and celebration of cultural diversity.
Baroness Lawrence has succeeded The Lord Ali, who stepped down from the role of Chancellor after nine years in July 2015. She will preside over graduations and other events as the ceremonial head of the university and act as its figurehead and ambassador.
Read more about the Chancellor’s Investiture here.