Belfast Telegraph

QUB's Hillary Clinton appointment met with praise and criticism

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
With husband Bill
Clinton received an honorary degree from Queen's in 2018
With Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Hillary Clinton has been described as an "inspirational role model" for students after being appointed as the new chancellor of Queen's University.

The former US Secretary of State and First Lady will take up the largely ceremonial role immediately and serve for five years.

She succeeds Dr Tom Moran, who passed away in August 2018, and becomes the first woman to hold the post.

South Belfast MP Claire Hanna described the appointment as a "positive reflection on Queen's University and Northern Ireland".

But it also provoked anger among some students and the Belfast Feminist Network, who criticised the move.

Accepting the position, Mrs Clinton said it is a "great privilege" to be named chancellor of Queen's, a place she has "great fondness" for.

"The university is making waves internationally for its research and impact and I am proud to be an ambassador and help grow its reputation for excellence," she added.

Mrs Clinton has a long history with Northern Ireland, first visiting in November 1995 with husband President Bill Clinton.

In 2018 she received an honorary degree from Queen's (inset right) and a new scholarship was set up in her name for postgraduate study in politics, human rights and peace-building.

Welcoming the appointment, Ms Hanna said: "Secretary Clinton has made a considerable contribution to Northern Ireland and as an internationally recognised leader will be a very fine advocate for Queen's and an inspirational role model for the student and alumni community.

"Secretary Clinton has a long-standing relationship with Belfast, spanning decades.

"This new role is an extension of her long-standing commitment to people in Belfast and across the north. As local MP, I look forward to supporting Chancellor Clinton, Professor Ian Greer and their colleagues across QUB."

Lisburn and Castlereagh Green Party councillor Simon Lee believes that Queen's will benefit hugely from the status of the Clinton name.

"Regardless of how one feels about her record, looking at it objectively, the appointment of Hillary Clinton is a big coup for Queen's University and will greatly enhance its reputation globally," he said.

"As a graduate of Queen's myself, I feel it's a good thing to have such a high-profile person as a former US Secretary of State in this role and it will open doors for the university.

"The Clintons have long been big supporters of Northern Ireland through their role in the peace process so I feel her appointment is entirely appropriate."

However, the move also sparked controversy, with Socialist Youth NI reacting angrily.

The group held a protest outside Queen's in October 2018 when Mrs Clinton was presented with her honorary degree.

Members have criticised how, when US Secretary of State, she handled the 2012 attacks on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead. Queen's student and Socialist Youth member Lucy Marron told the Belfast Telegraph that a trail of death and destruction was left during Mrs Clinton's term as Secretary of State.

She cited US-orchestrated bombing campaigns in Libya and across the Middle East and coups against democratically elected governments in Latin America.

She added: "I, like many students, would refuse to shake her hand when receiving my degree."

Hamsavani Rajeswaren, vice-president for equality and diversity at Queen's, also criticised the decision, tweeting: "While I'd like to be delighted to think of the Chancellor of QUB finally being held by a woman, the fact that it'll be Hillary Clinton comes to me as deeply unsettling news.

"I don't need to explain why - Hillary's politics demonstrably prove she shouldn't be in this position."

Kellie Turtle, one of the founders of the Belfast Feminist Network, also expressed concerns over the appointment.

She said: "Her political influence over the years has at times been beneficial to progressing women's rights and equality but in many other ways has done huge damage to the rights of women, particularly those in other countries who have been subject to US foreign policy."

As chancellor, Mrs Clinton will preside over graduation ceremonies and act as an ambassador for Queen's abroad. She will also act as an adviser to Professor Greer, who is vice-chancellor, and senior management.

Stephen Prenter, pro-chancellor and chair of senate of the university's governing body, said he was delighted that Mrs Clinton was the new chancellor.

"Secretary Clinton has made a considerable contribution to Northern Ireland and as an internationally recognised leader will be an incredible advocate for Queen's and an inspirational role model for the Queen's community," he said.

Mrs Clinton was US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

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