|Axeman/astrophysicist May named university chancellor - Donald MacLeod, Monday November 19, 2007, Guardian Unlimited
[Brian May, member of the band Queen, performs during their 'European Tour 2005' at the Palau Sant Jordi Stadium in Barcelona in this April 2, 2005 file photo. (Reuters)]
Rock guitarist Brian May is named today as chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University. The lead guitarist and songwriter for Queen, who recently completed his much-delayed PhD in astrophysics, succeeds Cherie Booth QC as ceremonial head of the institution.
Earlier this year, May was made an honorary fellow of the university for his contribution to the arts and encouraging the public understanding of science through his book Bang! the Complete History of the Universe, co-authored with Chris Lintott and Sir Patrick Moore.
Previous works included We Will Rock You, Fat Bottomed Girls, Tie Your Mother Down, I Want It All and Who Wants To Live Forever. But his website mixes music and astrophysics; May's blog today deals with the hyperbolic orbits of interstellar particles, for instance.
The chairman of the university's board, Sir Malcolm Thornton, said: "Not only is Brian an icon in his own sphere but he is a real academic star, as well. He perfectly embodies the 'can do' attitude of LJMU. He is going to be a great chancellor for the students and a wonderful figurehead for the university."
The rockstar is a long-standing supporter of the university's Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI), whose research, work with schoolchildren and development of robotic telescopes earned a Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2005 (from Her Majesty rather than the group).
A postgraduate student at Imperial College, May put his academic career on hold to pursue musical fame. But more than 30 years later, in July this year, he completed his PhD thesis, A survey of radial velocities in the zodiacal dust cloud, and was awarded his doctorate last month.
Prof Michael Brown, LJMU vice-chancellor, said: "In this age of celebrity culture, it is rare to find someone who has fame, fortune and universal acclaim and yet who remains true to his core values of learning and enlightenment.
"When Brian returned to his studies and completed his PhD this year, he earned the respect of students and academics the world over."
May said: "Of course, I am already familiar with the LJMU astrophysics team and their work with robotic telescopes and I look forward to visiting the LJMU telescope in La Palma very soon.
"I agree wholeheartedly with the LJMU ethos of dream, plan, achieve - such simple words but they summarise perfectly the educational experience that LJMU provides, changing people's lives and helping individuals to reach their goals and realise their dreams."
He follows Booth, the leading Liverpudlian lawyer and wife of the former prime minister Tony Blair, who held the position of chancellor for seven years from 1999 to 2006.
Established in 1999, the ARI was awarded the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education in 2005 for developing the world's largest and most sophisticated ground-based robotic telescopes
Wow, can we imagine this scenario in Malaysia. A rocker as a Chancellor of a University .. there is still hope, I'd say .. No? .. why not .. where are our academically inclined artists?? SHOW YOURSELF !! Precedent has bee set .. by others .. as always. In any case, Your Hon. Chancellor Brian May, my congratulations and salute .. from a rocker, physicist and Professor .. yeehaaa ..