SIR Lenny Henry is to step down from his role as Chancellor of Birmingham City University at the end of 2024, eight years after becoming the institution’s figurehead.

The actor, comedian, TV presenter and writer, from Dudley, became Chancellor in 2016 with the initial intention of fulfilling a five-year term but found his time at BCU so rewarding that he extended his tenure. 

Sir Lenny, aged 65, said: “It’s been a privilege representing an institution that’s given hope and opportunity to many who have had to overcome financial and social hardship - and I know there are transformative times ahead for a place that has become very special to me.” 

Sir Lenny’s departure from BCU follows his recent decision to stand down from hosting Comic Relief, the BBC fundraising telethon he co-founded and fronted since 1985. His last appearance as host will be next month. 

Among Sir Lenny’s most notable achievements at BCU was the co-founding of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity in 2020.

One of the largest producers of creative professionals outside the South-East of England, the research centre has become increasingly influential within the media industry. It advised Channel 4 on its Black to Front Project, which builds on the broadcaster’s commitment to improve Black representation on screen and more widely in the TV industry. It was also shortlisted for a Times Higher Education award for outstanding contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion in 2021.

Sir Lenny will continue to play an important role in the ongoing development of the centre, which he created with BCU’s professor of broadcast journalism Diane Kemp, Marcus Ryder MBE and former director of undergraduate studies Marverine Duffy.

Professor David Mba, BCU’s vice-chancellor, said: “I’d like to thank Sir Lenny for everything he has done during his eight years as chancellor of the university.

“BCU is committed to the arts and widening participation - and Lenny was a great fit as a strong advocate for Birmingham and the underrepresented.

“I wish him well for what will continue to be a trailblazing career as a one-of-a-kind national treasure."

The search for Sir Lenny’s successor is already underway, with a new chancellor expected to be in place by the end of 2024.