Sociologist Professor Surinder Sharma of the University of Leicester has been appointed as the new High Sheriff of Leicestershire; where he will take office on April 8.
Professor Sharma, who moved to Leicester from Kenya in 1965, will take over from the current High Sheriff Gordon Arthur and spend 12 months in the post, before passing the baton to a new appointee.
He is currently a co-director of DICE, a specialised unit based in the Department of Sociology which aims to be at the heart of debates about promoting inclusion and making positive benefits out of diversity. Professor Sharma is also honorary visiting fellow in the Department of Sociology and the historic role will allow him to promote his vision of cultural diversity.
He was formally appointed by the Queen at the Privy Council meeting on 15 March and will take office at the Handover Ceremony on 8 April at Leicester’s Town Hall.
Professor Sharma, a former city councillor expresses his thoughts on his new appointment: “It’s a real honour to nominated and chosen for the position of High Sheriff.
“It’s a role which goes back to Saxon times, so there’s a historical context to the appointment.
“We’ve all seen Robin Hood, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
“That was the original purpose of the job – things like tax collecting, and upholding law and order.
“Now, it’s still to do with those things, so it’s about supporting the police, as well as the prison service and probation, but it’s also about fund-raising and helping charities.”
Professor Sharma is chair of the Leicester Race Equality Council and has been working in the diversity and inclusion field for over 35 years and shares that the new role will help him deliver his message of fairness and equality of opportunity to a wider audience – something which he said he strives towards in his role with DICE.
“That is one of the benefits of the role; I am able to put my own stamp on it. One of the many things I’ll be working towards will be bringing communities together and greater cohesion within our society.” said Professor Sharma.
Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “I am delighted that Professor Sharma has received this prestigious appointment that further cements the University’s relationship with the city of Leicester and comes so soon after the launch of the DICE Unit.
“Diversity and community cohesion have formed a core part of his work for many years and will contribute greatly to his role as High Sheriff of Leicestershire.”