British comedy legend Sir Lenny Henry has been appointed as the chancellor of Birmingham City University, a position that will afford him the chance to offer “life-changing opportunities to young people.”

The 57 year old actor and stand-up comic, who was knighted in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours, said that his new role would be a “superb opportunity” for him to indulge three passions in his life: “Birmingham and the West Midlands, the creative arts, and giving life-changing opportunities to young people from a wide range of backgrounds.”

Lenny HenrySir Lenny Henry is the new chancellor of Birmingham City University

Well-known for his roles fronting charitable organisations and efforts for many decades as an aside to his comedy career, Henry has also been vocal in the past about the need for diversity in terms of economic and ethnic background in the performing arts.

Paying a visit to Birmingham City University’s campus already, he intends to use his five-year position to the same ends.

More: Lenny Henry receives knighthood [archive]

Henry continued: “BCU has facilities that rival anything in the television industry, is right in the centre of a city that has changed beyond recognition in recent years, and offers the sort of contemporary education I would have killed for when I was a kid.”

The vice-chancellor, Professor Cliff Allan, said on Thursday (July 21st) that the BCU was “absolutely delighted” to have such a prestigious name acting as its figurehead.

“Sir Lenny not only encapsulates the university’s commitment to both the arts and widening participation, but he is a strong advocate for Birmingham and the region, including his home town of Dudley… He will have his own office and staff to enable him to be a big part of what we do over the next five years.”

More: Lenny Henry highlights inequality in entertainment industry during BAFTA speech [archive]