ONE of the country's top businesswomen has been appointed as the new chancellor for the University of Bradford.

Kate Swann, an alumnus of the university and former CEO of WH Smith and managing director for Argos, was yesterday revealed as the successor to sportsman and politician Imran Khan.

Mr Khan stepped down from the role in November, leaving Mrs Swann as only the second female chancellor in the university's history.

The University’s Court has formally approved her appointment and she will be installed by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Cantor at a future date.

The role makes her the formal Head of the University, whose official duties are to confer degrees on graduating students, and to chair the University’s Court. The Chancellor also plays a key role in the University’s life as an ambassador for the institution in the UK and internationally.

Mrs Swann graduated from the university 1986 with a BSc in Business Management. She took up the role of CEO of the SSP group in September 2013, following ten years as CEO of WH Smith. Before that she was Managing Director of Argos. Kate joined Argos in December 2000 from Homebase, where she was promoted to Managing Director from Marketing Director after three years with the company.

She began her career at Tesco in 1989 as a graduate trainee and throughout her career has held senior marketing roles at Homepride Foods, Coca Cola and Dixons Group.

She was awarded an honorary degree from Bradford in 2007, just a few months after being listed in the top 50 most powerful women in business.

Commenting on the appointment, Mrs Swann said, “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Bradford as Chancellor, at such an exciting stage of the university’s development. I enjoyed my time as an undergraduate enormously and look forward to supporting the university as it continues to make a real difference to its students, business and society more widely.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, Professor Brian Cantor, said: “We are very pleased that Kate Swann is now our new Chancellor. Kate is one of the University’s most successful graduates. She is an outstandingly successful businesswoman, and will be a great role model for both our students and graduates. I very much look forward to working with Kate to promote the University of Bradford as one of the world’s leading technology universities.”

Cricketer and politician Imran Khan announced last year that he would be standing down after nine years as chancellor. He said political commitments and fundraising work had made it "challenging to commit the time required for the role of chancellor." Before him the chancellor role was filled by Baroness Betty Lockwood, who served from 1997 to 2005.