LONDON (Reuters) - Brian May, lead guitarist from rock band Queen who has just completed a doctorate in astrophysics, was on Monday named as the next chancellor to Liverpool John Moores University.
May, who will take up the role early next year, became an honorary fellow of the university earlier this year in recognition of his contribution to the arts and for encouraging public understanding of science with his book “Bang! The Complete History of the Universe.”
The university said it was a tribute to May, 60, that he had gone back to finish his doctorate after leaving his studies in his mid-20s to pursue a career in rock music.
“Not only is Brian an icon in his own sphere but he is a real academic star as well,” said the chairman of the university’s board, Sir Malcolm Thornton, in a statement.
“He perfectly embodies the ‘can do’ attitude of LJMU; he is going to be a great Chancellor for the students and a wonderful figurehead for the University.”
May said in the statement that it was an honor and a great challenge to take up the new position.
May was studying astrophysics at Imperial College, London, when he formed Queen with singer Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor in 1970. He dropped his doctorate research into interstellar dust as the band met with increasing success.
After Mercury’s AIDS-related death in 1991, May, the writer of such hits as “We Will Rock You” and “Fat Bottomed Girls,” recorded several solo albums and set up the Brian May Band.
But his interest in astronomy continued, and he co-wrote “Bang! The Complete History of the Universe” with Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott which was published last year.
In October this year, May completed his PhD thesis “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.”
“In this age of celebrity culture, it is rare to find someone who has fame, fortune and universal acclaim and yet who remains true to his core values of learning and enlightenment,” said the university’s vice chancellor Michael Brown.
May will be the fourth chancellor of the university and follows Cherie Booth, the wife of the former prime minister Tony Blair, who held the position from 1999 to 2006.
The university said its chancellor plays a vital role in raising the profile of the institution by acting as an ambassador for the university and its staff and students.