Ex-archbishop Rowan Williams to head University of South Wales

Rowan Williams
Image caption Rowan Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury for a decade

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is to become chancellor of Wales' largest university.

He will succeed Lord Morris of Aberavon, who retires later this year, at the University of South Wales (USW).

Now Lord Williams of Oystermouth, he grew up in the Swansea Valley and was archbishop for 10 years until last December.

He said he felt "quiet pride" at the appointment and the new university was "a major force for positive change".

Lord Williams, currently master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, said: "It gives me both personal pleasure and a sense of quiet pride to become the formal head of the University of South Wales.

"This is a vigorous academic community of many nations and beliefs brought together by a shared commitment to the transformation of lives through knowledge and education.

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Media captionLord Williams will succeed Lord Morris of Aberavon who retires later this year

"The University of South Wales is both a substantial presence in Britain and in the global higher education community, and a major force for positive change in Wales."

He said that his role was not just ceremonial and that he would be trying to conserve the "ethos and traditional spirit" of the university.

"I think people need to be told from very early on in their educational lives that it's possible for them to think about a university education and I think if they've got a first-class institution on their doorstep that's even more likely," he added.

USW was formed by the merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, in April, and has more than 33,000 students and 3,500 staff.

Outgoing chancellor Lord Morris said Lord Williams was a "most distinguished person" and a "son of Glamorgan".

He said the university's main challenge was to "provide the kind of education required for the changing needs of today's society".

The appointment was announced at the Wales Office, where the minister Baroness Randerson said: "His drive and expertise will be a real boost for the university and I cannot think of anyone better to fulfil this role and take the university forward on its path to becoming recognised as a global presence in the higher education community."

Lord Williams was given a life peerage after retiring as archbishop, and his title comes from the village of Oystermouth in Mumbles, near Swansea.

Born in 1950, he grew up in Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley and was educated at Swansea's Dynefor grammar school before going on to Christ's College, Cambridge.

He was granted the freedom of Swansea in 2010.

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