Former Cadbury's Chairman is Chancellor

Sir John Sunderland
Sir John Sunderland

29th November, 2010

Sir John Sunderland has been confirmed as the new Chancellor of Aston University, replacing Sir Michael Bett, who is due to retire after more than six years in the role.

Sir John, who will officially take up the position in May 2011, has existing links with Aston, as a Lay Member of the University’s Council. He also has strong ties with the West Midlands region, having held a number of roles at Cadbury and associated companies, over a forty year career.

The Chancellor is the honorary and ceremonial head of the University, presiding at degree ceremonies and conferring degrees.

Sir John commented on his appointment: ‘Having served on the University Council I have come to appreciate the breadth of the Aston community and its stakeholders, and the importance to our graduands of their degrees. It will be a privilege to share their special day at graduation time.’

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor, added, ‘We are delighted that Sir John Sunderland has agreed to be our next Chancellor. In the time he has been on Council, he has demonstrated the insight and personal qualities needed to be an outstanding Chancellor for Aston University. His appointment reflects Aston’s position as a university with strong links to industry and business. We are all looking forward to working with him in the coming years.’

Sir Michael Bett’s retirement marks the end of a long association with Aston University. Between 1993 and 2003, he was Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University Council, before taking over from Sir Adrian Cadbury as Chancellor in 2004. Sir Michael will preside over the University’s postgraduate degree ceremonies in April before handing over to his successor.

Professor King commented, ‘Sir Michael has made a very significant contribution to Aston University over the last seventeen years. His command of degree ceremonies and his welcoming presence at official functions will be missed. We are grateful for all his efforts on our behalf, and we sincerely hope that we will continue to see Sir Michael and his wife Christine at future Aston events.’

Sir John Sunderland will be officially installed as Chancellor in a ceremony taking place at Aston University on Wednesday 4 May 2011.


Notes to editors:

1) Sir John Sunderland joined Cadbury Limited in 1968. He worked on both the confectionery and soft drinks sides of the business, on the Boards of Cadbury Ireland, Cadbury Schweppes South Africa, as a founding Director of the Coca-Cola Schweppes UK joint venture in 1987, and then as Managing Director of Trebor Bassett.

In 1993 he became Managing Director of the Confectionery Stream and a member of the Cadbury Schweppes Board. In September 1996 he was appointed Chief Executive and seven years later, he became Chairman. He retired in July 2008.

He is currently Chairman of Merlin Entertainments Group, a Non-executive Director of Barclays plc, a Director of the Financial Reporting Council, an Adviser to CVC Capital Partners, an Association Member of BUPA, and a member of Council at Aston and Reading Universities.

He has held a number of Presidencies of trade bodies and is a former Non-executive Director of the Rank Group plc.

He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2006 for services to business.

2) Sir Michael Bett is a former Director of Industrial Relations at GEC and Director of Personnel at the BBC. He held a number of senior roles at BT, including Board Member for Personnel, Managing Director of the BT Operating Division, Deputy Chairman and Non-executive Director. Upon retirement from BT, he was asked to become First Commissioner for the Civil Service. He has held a number of Non-Executive Directorships and Chairmanships. He has led or been part of a wide range of Government reviews, including the Independent Review of Higher Education Pay and Conditions 1997-1999

He received a CBE in 1990 for services to telecommunications, and a knighthood in 1995 for services to training and personnel.