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Observatory announces next Presidential Team

The Magna Charta Observatory is pleased to announce the names of the President and Vice-President of the Governing Council who will take over in June 2021 when the mandates of the present office holders end. Dr Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Canada will become President and Dr Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Vice-Chancellor of Stockholm University, Sweden, will become Vice-President.


Dr Patrick Deane was an undergraduate in Johannesburg during the period of the Soweto Riots and the apartheid system. He vividly remembers his Vice-Chancellor for his determination to uphold the fundamental values of that particular institution and of universities generally. This was in the face of the government’s intention to curb freedom of expression and stifle dissent. He also admired his Vice-Chancellor’s eloquence on the critical role universities must play in advancing social justice and, more broadly, human and societal good. During his career in Higher Education he has served as both an academic and an administrator and has been Vice-Chancellor of 3 Universities, Winnipeg, McMaster and from 2019 Queen’s University. He was appointed to the MCO’s Governing Council in 2019 and was a member of the group which produced the Magna Charta Universitatum 2020.


Dr Astrid Söderbergh Widding has been the Vice Chancellor of Stockholm University since 2013. She was appointed Professor in Cinema Studies in 2000 and has held positions as Head of Department, Deputy Dean and Deputy President. She is a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Chair of the Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions and member of the EUA Council. She led the Stockholm University’s involvement in the first wave of the MCO’s Living Values project and is actively engaged in issues of autonomy and academic freedom, both in Swedish public debate and through Scholars at Risk.

Of his appointment Dr Deane said; ‘I am delighted and honoured to be appointed to serve the Magna Charta Observatory as President of its Governing Council. While the Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988 beautifully articulated the fundamental values of universities, the Observatory has this year published an update to that document—one that recognizes the changed and continually changing circumstances within which universities around the world do their critically important work. It has never been more important to strengthen and celebrate university values, as well as the diversity of the global academy, and I look forward to working with colleagues at the Observatory and around the world to do that over the next four years.


Professor Söderbergh Widding said; ‘Academic core values are absolutely crucial for the future of our universities. I am honoured and proud to be able to contribute to promoting them through the Magna Charta Observatory in the years to come.’


David Lock, Secretary General of the Magna Charta Observatory, said that the Observatory was very pleased to have such an experienced and high calibre team taking over. The appointments reflect the global strategy of the Observatory. Both appointees will bring to their offices deep experience of key MCO projects and a passion for universities to play their full part in society based on their fundamental values.

Note to Editors

The Magna Charta Observatory

The Magna Charta Observatory is the global guardian and representative of ethics and morals of the University. It was formed in 2000 and based on the fundamental values and principles of the University, as set out in the Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988, revised in 2020, it promotes the fulfilment and the defence of institutional autonomy and academic freedom in each university.


It is a signatories’ association, independent from political organisations or interest groups. The signatory universities – through their rectors, presidents and vice-chancellors, who act on behalf of their institutions – are connected to the organization by their commitment, present and future, to comply with the principles of the Magna Charta Universitatum.


The Observatory undertakes its work to ensure the integrity of intellectual and scientific work in Institutions and society, thus reinforcing trust in relationships between universities and their communities, be they local, regional, national or global.


More information about the MCO can be found at



MCU 2020

The original Magna Charta Universitatum, drafted in 1988, served universities and society well. Since it was drafted the world and the situation faced by universities has changed greatly and hence the MCO prepared a new version of the Magna Charta Universitatum: the MCU 2020. The text (in English) has been adopted by the MCO's Governing Council. Translations are being prepared.


The new MCU removes nothing from the original fundamental values to which universities signed up. It strives to be responsive to and resonate with contemporary challenges and concerns. Its tone recognises that the pursuit of the fundamental values has worth along with their actual attainment, which, in practice, is a constant quest. It recognises the more global nature of what universities do and the wider range of local responsibilities which they have.


The text of the MCU 2020 can be found at Its formal launch has been delayed by the Covid 19 emergency but it will be launched globally as and when circumstances permit.


Living Values Project

The Living Values Project is designed to enable universities to reflect on their values, review whether they are the right values for this time, establish the extent to which staff are aware of and committed to them and they are being put into practices and identify what action can be taken to remedy any difference between the desired and actual situations.


The Magna Charta Observatory, working with senior experts and very different universities in nine countries, developed and piloted guidelines and resources to enable universities across the world to define, achieve engagement with and live effectively in accordance with their values.


The guidelines and resources are freely available for universities to use. Evidence and successful practice from the experience of the pilot universities is included to provide support and challenge. MCO Ambassadors can assist individual universities. Regional workshops are to be planned.


More details can be found at



For Further information contact


The Administrator
Carla Pazzaglia





Published on 9 December 2020