Dawn, who was officially installed in the role during a ceremony to celebrate nursing and midwifery graduates, commended this year’s cohort of students for their steely determination to succeed.
“You’ve really earned your degrees,” she said during her inaugural speech. “Especially as you powered through under lockdown restrictions. That was unbelievably harsh but you persevered and you showed resilience.
“You know that if you put in the hours you will be successful. Character is important too. When I look at you I see character and I see boundless potential. You truly can do anything.
“Make your life add up to something that’s bigger than yourself. I’m truly optimistic that the world is going to be a better place because of you.
“As a world we need compassion, we need kindness and we need smarts. I hope Edge Hill has set you up for the success you want and the world needs.”
Dawn, who was born in Lancashire and has Liverpudlian grandparents, is an internationally well-respected executive in the broadcast and media industries; she has been CEO of Channel 4, Channel 5 and Getty Images and worked at the highest levels within ITV, Sky and Yahoo!
She chairs the national Youth Theatre and the educational platform Digital Theatre+, and she is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Television Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Addressing staff, students and their family and friends at Edge Hill’s Ormskirk campus, Dawn said she was only interested in organisations with “a higher purpose”.
As chair of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and Championship Board, Dawn highlighted how the England women’s national football team, the Lionesses, harnessed the power of women’s football to change educational policy – following their UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 win they lobbied the Government demanding equal access to football in school for girls.
She reflected on the progress she had witnessed during her career and encouraged students not to “be contained by past prejudices”.
“You shine a light on injustice, on prejudice, on equality. You have a global voice, keep using it for good.”
Dawn described the offer to take up the role of Chancellor at Edge Hill as “irresistible”.
“The fact that Edge Hill was the first non-denominational teacher training college for women was really important.
“To be building on the work of pioneers is an absolute privilege. There have been an extraordinary number of pioneers through these doors and, who knows, there may be some in this room. I hope so.
“I love the fact that the University continues to explore themes of social justice in its research and public engagement. And I love the fact that Edge Hill has a higher percentage of first family members coming to the University than the average.
“To help the University and, in turn, to help you – that’s what I’m committed to do.”
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July 18, 2023