University’s Vice-Chancellor receives Honorary Freeman title

Stephen Marston, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Gloucestershire, has been made an Honorary Freeman in recognition of his services to the city of Gloucester. He was made an Honorary Freeman at a special meeting of Gloucester City Council on Thursday, July 13.

Since becoming Vice-Chancellor in 2011, he has been part of the success of bringing a new Sports Arena to the university, benefitting the city and students, as well as a new Performing Arts Hub.

He took the lead on the development of the new student accommodation at Blackfriars, along with the expansion of the Oxstalls Campus, helping to bring many more students to Gloucester. He has overseen exponential growth in Health and Social Care and the University’s apprenticeships portfolio and international student community.

Most recently, the Vice-Chancellor has led the university’s most significant development project to date, with the purchase of the former Debenhams building, to create a campus right in the heart of the city’s Kings Quarter.

The new city campus is a key part of the £200million city centre regeneration by the University, Gloucester City Council and its partners Reef Group, which includes the development of The Forum, the refurbishment of Kings Walk shopping centre and recent Kings Square revamp.

Other notable successes that Stephen has been part of, include the creation of Gloucestershire Business School and Growth Hub to support local businesses, as well as making voluntary contributions to the cultural life of the city through his role of Non-Executive Director of the Gloucester Culture Trust.

Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “Stephen has made a huge contribution to our city and I think this is the perfect recognition for all he has done. The council warmly thanks Stephen Marston for his exemplary service to Gloucester and we are very pleased to award him the title of Honorary Freeman.”

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, group leader for the Liberal Democrats at Gloucester City Council, said: “This is well deserved. Stephen Marston has had a positive impact on the life of the city of Gloucester since his arrival. Most importantly he is the person who is responsible for saving the former Debenhams building from the bulldozers. This iconic building will remain in the city centre, repurposed as a key facility of the University of Gloucestershire. I wish him well in the future."

Councillor Tree Chambers-Dubus, acting leader for the Labour Party at Gloucester City Council, said: “It is always good to be able to celebrate people who have made such a positive impact on our city. In the 12 years that Stephen Marston has been the Vice Chancellor, he has worked hard to cement the links between the university community and the City of Gloucester, culminating in the work to create a new campus in the heart of our city. These links have helped bring more students into Gloucester, many of whom will remain in our city and become part of the wider community. It has also helped to nurture local talent who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to develop their skills.”

Councillor Kathy Williams, Mayor of Gloucester, said: “I’d like to congratulate Stephen Marston and I’m delighted that we are giving him this award. His dedication to the University makes me very proud of our city and the fantastic people that we have here.”

Stephen Marston said: “I am deeply grateful and honoured to receive this award. Having worked and lived in Gloucester for 12 years, I have developed a great affection for the city. It is a very special place. I particularly value this award as a reflection of the close partnership we have built between the University and the city, working together for the common good. It is central to the University’s mission to be a force for good in our community, supporting educational, economic, cultural and social wellbeing. It has been hugely rewarding for me to have had the opportunity to act on that mission, seeing through several projects which I believe will benefit the city and its people for many years to come.”