The Chancellor was speaking as the University's summer graduation ceremonies began at the Millennium Forum in Londonderry today.
"In 2003 I was deeply honoured to receive a Doctor of Letters on this very stage from the University of Ulster.
"Now, seven years later, as Chancellor of the University I am proud to be standing here, saluting the achievements of students and staff on our Magee campus who are making a major contribution to the academic, cultural and economic Renaissance of this city and the province as a whole.
"This great city is renowned for its warmth, its creativity, its vision and in my view nowhere in this city are these qualities better illustrated than at Magee. You need only go to the Foyle Arts Centre to see these qualities in abundance among our staff and students. It's fantastic to see the next generation of acting, dance, musical and digital media talent being nurtured there."
Turning to emerging issues in higher education, he told his audience of students, their families and academics:
"There is a great hunger in Derry-Londonderry and among the leadership of this university for Magee to grow. Investment in higher education, after all, is an investment in our future.
"In this tight financial climate, it is essential that the city speaks with one voice as we seek to persuade the Executive at Stormont to back the University's expansion plan. In this regard, it is encouraging that business, political and community leaders in this city are talking about the need to expand Magee."
And he called on Government to invest in higher education as a investment in the future:
"At a time when Northern Ireland is looking to forge a bright economic future, the quality of Ulster’s research and innovation, its investment in science, engineering, technology and maths, its provision of professionally accredited degree courses and its commitment to widening access to higher education is inspiring.
"Government, both at Stormont and at Westminster, must know, and if it does not know, it must be told - by you, by me, by the staff and students of Ulster, by its alumni and by those in business, in the arts and in the sciences - that failure to invest in higher education is a failure to invest in all that is good in our society.
"If higher education needs a champion in these times let us all be that champion."