LONDON The University of West London has installed alumnus Laurence Geller, president and CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, as its new chancellor.
Chancellor is a mostly ceremonial title, usually given to a distinguished individual whose role is to advance its interests in his or her field of relevance. The vice chancellor is the chief executive of a UK university. Geller succeeds Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, CEO of Cobra Beer, as the university’s chancellor.
The university bestows the title of chancellor on Geller for the distinguished role he has played in advancing excellence in hospitality and tourism worldwide. Besides leading the Chicago-based hotel owner and asset management firm, Geller is a published author of more 50 professional articles, a regular lecturer at universities throughout the world and a pioneer in specialist educational programs. In 2009, he received the university’s Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, and a year later received an honorary doctorate in philosophy.
“Words are inadequate to express both the honor and my delight at returning home after some 40-plus years since my graduation,” Geller says. “Our university has achieved so very much and has a shining future ahead of it. I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to contribute to the terrific work being done by the vice chancellor and board of governors and their undoubted success as it enters the next stage of its inevitable growth. I hope I can give back just a fraction of what the university has given me.”
The inauguration ceremony, which took place at the university’s Ealing campus, coincided with a celebration marking the school’s new name. It had previously been known as Thames Valley University and, before that, as Ealing Technical College.
With more than 45 years in the hospitality industry, the Middlesex native has served as senior vice president of Holiday Inn and as director of London’s Grand Metropolitan Hotels, and he cofounded the Industry Real Estate Financing Advisory Council in 1997. He is an American ambassador and fellow of the UK-based Institute of Hospitality.