Tributes to “exceptional “ man who helped shape new university.

Sir Francis Kennedy
Sir Francis Kennedy

Tributes have been paid to the man who helped lead the transformation of the former Preston Polytechnic into a university.

Sir Francis Kennedy, was the first Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire.

His dedication was immense, he was a great people person and he was a fantastic ambassador for UCLan.

Professor Mike Thomas

The Chorley diplomat, who held the titles of KCMG and CBE, joined the Board of Governors in 1989 and was credited with playing a crucial role in the institution’s transition from Preston Polytechnic to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

In 1995 he became the first Chancellor of the new university and until recently was a familiar figure at official events.

He held this position until 2001 and a year later he was recognised for his service with an Honorary Doctorate.

Born and raised in Brinscall, near Chorley, he won a scholarship after passing his 11 plus exam and had a career in the Royal Navy. He served in the Diplomatic Corps where his posts included Africa and the USA.

Sir Francis had a successful career with British Airways, where he was chairman of the board, and other leading companies after retiring from government service.

He lived in Chorley for more than 20 years before moving to Eccleston.

Current vice-chancellor, Professor Mike Thomas,said: “Sir Francis Kennedy was an exceptional first Chancellor of the university and we were very fortunate to have such a caring gentleman in this iconic position.

“He made an outstanding contribution to the university and he was such a keen supporter of the work we do.

“His dedication was immense, he was a great people person and he was a fantastic ambassador for UCLan.”

Prof Thomas added: “His interest in the university was heartfelt and this was witnessed on a regular basis when he attended a wide range of corporate events.

“We would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time.”

A widower, he had four grown-up children and many grandchildren.