Sir John Kingman

April 7, 2000

Sir John Kingman, 60, Bristol University's long-standing vice-chancellor, is said to have quietly campaigned for a statistics commission during his tenure as president of the Royal Statistical Society in the late 1980s.

Now, as chair of the commission he has championed for so long, it is widely hoped that he will act as a guardian of public interest in national statistics, after years of concern over their integrity.

A quick glance down the list of awards and commendations on Sir John's CV proves that he is suitably qualified for the challenges of the job. He may have to decide what these challenges are for himself, however, as the Treasury has not yet announced what the commission's role will be, other than to rebuild the nation's trust in official statistics.

Sir John was a fellow of Pembroke College at 22, professor of mathematics at Sussex University at , and he chaired Oxford University's mathematical institute before becoming vice-chancellor of Bristol University in 1985.

Although "exceptionally private" by nature, he is well remembered for his staunch opposition to state intervention in university affairs during the passing of the Education Reform Act in 1989. According to reports at the time, the government did its best to bully Sir John into a retraction of his outspoken beliefs on university autonomy. He has more recently condemned Britain's quality watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency, for ignoring the views of vice-chancellors.

He was formerly a Tory councillor in Brighton and chairman of the Science and Engineering Research Council between 1981 and 1985. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and serves on a number of Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals boards. He is also a special trustee of the United Bristol Hospitals.

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