Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Rod Hill

Oration

Presented by Sir Malcolm Thornton

Rod Hill

Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to present Rod Hill for the award of Ambassador Fellow.

Rod has lived a life in public service alongside a hugely successful corporate career during which, as Managing Director for Liverpool Airport for ten years, he was responsible for the successful redevelopment of the city’s airport and was instrumental in the first ‘naming’ of an airport in the UK – so we now have the John Lennon Airport as our gateway to the world.

Rod Hill has spent all of his working life on Merseyside, working in both public and private sectors, and holding senior positions in local government and industry. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and past National President, he is he also a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

His training in accountancy has given him a forensic attention to detail that has made him such a trusted leader as well as such an asset to the range of organisations he has supported over the years.

With a particular interest in the welfare of young people, he has been a Board member of organisations as diverse as St Helens College, St Helens NHS Trust, Villages Housing Group, Mersey Tourism and Carmel College in St Helens.

His presence as a Board member has been truly galvanising for those enterprises, using his skills and judgement to drive progress and sustained success for a variety of notable agencies particularly in Merseyside. He is shortly to take up further position in the aviation industry in support of another airport endeavour.

But it is for his service to this university that we gather to pay tribute today. Rod joined the Board of Governors of Liverpool John Moores University in 2001. He chaired the Finance Committee for many years and became Chairman of the Board in 2013. He stood down as Chairman last year after serving an unprecedented 17 years on the Board – a record of service and commitment unlikely to be surpassed. In all this, he has had Linda alongside him with her love and support. I know how much she will share in this celebration today.

To most people present today, the Governing Body of the university is a hidden, somewhat remote, presence. The Board oversees the workings of the university and is charged with providing reassurance on the direction and operation of the institution to ensure that Liverpool John Moores University is constitutionally sound and financially stable in its mission to provide the best possible student experience. It is a significant responsibility and requires a genuine and deep commitment.

All of us who have had the privilege of serving as Governors have an added dimension to our roles that comes with the territory of being involved with a university. And the mark of a good Governor is the time that we are able to spend in the university, meeting and understanding our staff and student community – to be and feel a part of their lives, their dreams and their achievements – to tap into the University’s heartbeat.

This is an extraordinary life-affirming community. You are an inspirational group of people and it’s such a pleasure for all Governors to participate fully in the life of the university.

I knew Rod for many years before we both joined the Board in 2001. I had developed a strong admiration for him during this time and was delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with him at LJMU. A sense of shared values carried us through some challenging times, particularly as Higher Education faced some significant changes. Standing with Rod today is Professor Michael Brown, the university’s Vice-Chancellor from 2000 to 2011. Together we made a formidable trio and, with the support of a strong, knowledgeable governing body and a dedicated team of officers of the university, we made real progress during our various terms of office.

It had always been my hope that Rod would succeed me as Chairman. As Finance Chairman, he had been my strong right arm, my confidante and my friend. When I stood down as Chairman, Rod did succeed me and proved to be the right man to lead the Board and steer the university through its next phase of development, particularly regarding the re-vamping of its campus. As always, Rod’s qualities of personal integrity, impressive knowledge and mastery of detail, and his ability to work closely with and involve his Board colleagues, ensured that the multiplicity of Board decisions were handled effectively, efficiently and transparently – the very essence of good leadership.

Alongside the role as Chairman, we have both experienced the ceremonial side of the job as Pro-Chancellor – in ceremonies at graduation being here as proxy for the Chancellor.

Rod and I have both presided over many graduations. To see the joy and emotion – and sometimes the terror! – on the faces of students crossing the stage is a fantastic experience and not something that an average Board member in a corporate setting would understand.

This, above all else, is a people organisation. It thrives on the energy and enthusiasm of its staff, its students and its supporters. Members of the Board are, and should be, the finest advocates of this remarkable university and so it gives me great personal pleasure to present one of the university’s greatest supporters, Rod Hill, for the award of an Ambassador Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sustained success of the university.