Page content

Chair of Ulster University Council Jenny Pyper today announced the appointment of a new Chancellor of Ulster University,

“I am both honoured and delighted to announce that distinguished graduate of the University and globally renowned artist, Dr Colin Davidson will be our next Chancellor.  Colin embodies the creative and contemporary spirit of Ulster University and we are incredibly fortunate to have someone of such character and commitment to help us to guide and inspire the next generation.”

Colin graduated in 1991 from Ulster University with a first-class honours degree and has since become one of the world’s pre-eminent contemporary artists.  He has structured his practice in themes, and since 2010 his focus has been on painting grand scale portraits, which have won widespread recognition and many international awards. As well as numerous commissions, Colin’s portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, Ed Sheeran, Liam Neeson, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Christy Moore, John Hume, Dame Mary Peters, Gary Lightbody, Edna O'Brien, Glen Hansard, Mark Knopfler and Seamus Heaney.

Colin’s exhibition entitled ‘Silent Testimony’, first shown in 2015, reveals the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This critically acclaimed body of work was on show at the Ulster Museum Belfast during 2015, before embarking on a tour which included the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, Dublin Castle and the United Nations NYC.

In December 2015 he was commissioned by TIME Magazine to paint the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for the cover for its ‘Person of the Year’ issue. In 2016 Colin Davidson was invited to paint an official portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, which was unveiled later that year by The Queen in London. In 2019 his official portrait of President Bill Clinton was unveiled by the Past President in New York and in 2020 his portrait of Irish President Michael D Higgins was unveiled in Dublin.

Chancellor Colin Davidson commented,

“It’s almost thirty years to the day since I graduated from Ulster and, whilst I have never lost touch, I am delighted and honoured now to return to this esteemed University as Chancellor. I have always had immense pride in my links with Ulster University and have enjoyed seeing its reach and influence grow globally. Northern Ireland itself has so much to offer the coming generations here at home and in the rest of the world - we punch above our weight in so many ways. Ulster University has a pivotal role in realising the full potential of this place and I look forward to playing my part as an ambassador for the students, staff and alumni of Ulster University.”

Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Bartholomew welcomed Colin to the University;

“This is a very fitting appointment; Colin’s life, work and ethos resonates so strongly with Ulster and he is already an incredibly inspirational figure for many of our students as well as an ambassador for Northern Ireland across the globe. I would like to congratulate Colin on his appointment and I know the wider Ulster University community will join me in welcoming our new Chancellor.”

The role of Chancellor combines ceremonial and ambassadorial duties, including the conferring of degrees at graduation ceremonies.  Chancellor Colin Davidson succeeds Dr James Nesbitt who has served as Chancellor of Ulster University since 2010.