YolanDa Brown appointed new Chancellor

Gary Hughes

YolandDa Brown

We are delighted to announce that double-MOBO winning musician and broadcaster YolanDa Brown OBE DL has been appointed to the role of Chancellor, succeeding Gavin Esler who has retired from the position after almost 10 years.  

Having graduated with a first-class undergraduate masters degree in European Management Science with Spanish from Kent Business School, before going on to achieve her second masters degree and undertake a PhD, YolanDa will be installed as Chancellor during one of the University’s graduation ceremonies in July.  

YolanDa’s commitment to music and education has been synonymous throughout her career. As well as releasing critically acclaimed albums and touring with the likes of The Temptations, Jools Holland, Billy Ocean, Dave Stewart and more, YolanDa was Chair of Youth Music for six years and is currently a sitting member of the Arts Council, Chair of the BPI - the representative voice for record labels in the UK – and an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, among other positions. She was also recently appointed a member of the Arts and Media Honours committee by Prime Minster Rishi Sunak.  

In her role as Chancellor, YolanDa’s duties will include conferring degrees, chairing the University’s Court and representing the University on special occasions. She takes up the role at a time when the University is preparing to celebrate its 60th Anniversary. 

The University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Karen Cox, said: ‘I am delighted that YolanDa Brown is to become the University’s seventh Chancellor. Her passion for, commitment to and experience in education make her perfect for the role, with her tireless and innovative support for young people also making her an outstanding and inspirational role model.

‘I have no doubt she will be incredibly popular with our students, staff and alumni, all of whom will make her feel very welcome when she returns to the University in July.’

Speaking about her new role, YolanDa Brown said: ‘My time at the University was character building, life affirming, and a bucket full of emotions. Every single time I am on campus a new memory returns, so you can imagine my joy accepting this role as Chancellor. The University has always been at the forefront of fostering a diverse, inclusive, and vibrant community. Its dedication to providing outstanding education, promoting research that makes a real-world difference, and its unwavering support for students from all walks of life resonate deeply with my own values.

‘I am excited to work alongside the talented staff and students to build on this foundation as the University strives towards new heights of achievement.’

Zaid Mahmood, Kent (Students’) Union President, added: ‘I’m delighted YolanDa has been appointed Chancellor and I know students across the University are going to love getting to know her in the years ahead. As a former student she knows what life at Kent is all about and her journey from here to the top of the music business is a total inspiration. She is truly an Icon!

‘It’s great to have such a generous and passionate champion for education in the role. She is an advocate for equal opportunities especially for students from marginalised backgrounds. She is a changemaker to the core and I can’t wait to see all the amazing opportunities students get through her appointment. On behalf of everyone at Kent Students’ Union, we welcome YolanDa Brown to her Chancellorship at Kent and we can’t wait to work with her for the growth of our University.’

YolanDa’s connection with Kent goes beyond her studies, as she played for the University netball team, taught undergraduate business on the Medway campus and, since graduating, has played at Gulbenkian Arts Centre on numerous occasions, and even represented the University on the BBC’s Celebrity University Challenge. 

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